Despite the smiles and positive energy projecting in front of me, I’m definitely feeling outnumbered—even a bit overwhelmed. An army of about 150 RIT students, seated in an auditorium-style lecture hall, is awaiting my message. Keep the nerves in check, I’m thinking, and just do what you do. It’ll be fine.
I start by expressing my sincere gratitude to be in their presence. These students represent the public face of RIT’s New Student Orientation program, and in a matter of days they’ll assume the frontline of a highly coordinated effort to welcome first-year students and their families to campus. As Orientation Assistants, or OAs, they are selected to participate in this back-to-school tradition through a competitive interviewing process. They truly represent the best of the best.
I’d been invited to meet with the OAs to talk a bit about “personal branding.” Greater attention needs to be placed on how individuals project themselves and are perceived publicly, particularly in light of the increasing prominence of social media. Personal choices speak volumes regarding one’s brand, and it can have a tremendous impact on enhancing or sabotaging a person’s overall potential.
To be honest, discussing personal brand with this group seems a bit like preaching to the choir. A desire to serve as an OA is testament to the high caliber of student who is willing to exchange nearly two weeks of summer vacation for the opportunity to ensure that newcomers feel welcome to campus and possess the tools needed to navigate a successful transition.
Nevertheless, the Orientation staff recognizes that it’s important for members of their student team to reflect seriously on their personal brand—and how that might ultimately reflect back on RIT. Although my presentation points out potential pitfalls, my real intent is to emphasize the opportunities that come with strategic consideration to creating one’s brand. I had fun crafting my presentation, and I share some perspective on that in my latest post to Stellavision, my personal blog.
But here I wish to express my admiration to the entire New Student Orientation team. In an effort to build individual brand identities, each one serves as a shining example of loyalty to the overall brand—the RIT brand.
So if you encounter those orange shirts roaming the campus this week, consider offering your thanks to the OAs for all they do to enhance ‘the brand.’