If you are a current student, you probably remember your orientation experience as being overwhelming or exciting, or you may remember it as being boring or silly at times. I had both of these perspectives after experiencing it from a first year student’s standpoint. I also didn’t feel that I had the greatest Orientation experience, and thought that I could do some things to change it. After speaking to some involved upper class men, I decided to go apply to be an Orientation Leader. What started out as hesitant involvement became one of the best experiences of my college career.
During the Orientation leader selection process, you not only present your resume, but also undergo group processing. You work in a team environment, completed tasks while you are assessed on your ability to work with others. Everything from constructing marshmallow pasta towers, to critical thinking team building exercises will make the day go by very quickly. Group process day pulls people out of their shells. I was exposed to an amazing group of people, most of which are still friends of mine two years later.
If you are selected to be an Orientation Leader, you have signed yourself up for a wild 2 weeks preceding the academic school year. One of the perks of the job include moving into RIT housing early (if you’re living on campus) which allows you to beat the chaos of your roommates moving in as well! You move in about 2 weeks before the first day of classes, and begin training. Orientation Leaders form teams which are lead by an Orientation Supervisor (a separate, veteran position of the program) and train together for about 5 days before New Student Orientation begins.
It’s inexplicable, but in these 5 days, you will become incredibly close to those on your team. You learn how to handle new students, are educated about many different programs and services on campus, and learn how to relay these resources to new students. After tons of prep, fun nights with your team, and doing “the wobble” more times that you ever wanted you, you are ready for move in day. Move in day is the most high energy day of orientation. Over 3000 people pour onto campus within 12 hours, making it hectic and exciting. You will meet with your group of students that night, and start their first night on campus off on the right foot. It’s intimidating, but being responsible for around 15 new students will push you and make you grow.
You have the unique opportunity to set the tone for these students’ entire college career. Remember, it’s best to be a friend to these new students, not a camp counselor. This job provides an EXCELLENT way to start your school year. You will be surrounded with an incredible amount of positivity, and fortunately will be situated into your living space far before you have to start your academics. This job is also paid, and you receive around a $300 stipend for your hard work and commitment, on top of a meal plan stipend to pay for your meals on campus during Orientation week.
I would highly recommend applying to be an OL. This job opened up an amazing opportunity for me as a 2nd year student. I went on to return the following year as an Orientation Supervisor. The friends that I made during these years are still some of my closest, and I can’t reiterate enough how this Orientation is a great way to start your year off on the right foot!