Responsible, approachable, team player–these are some adjectives that have been used to describe potential orientation leaders. Recently the Office of Residential Life and Housing Services has begun the search and application process for Orientation Staff for the 2016 year.
According to the coordinators of this year’s orientation, Kyle Hastbacka and Samantha Bisignano, this is the earliest that orientation staff has ever been picked. Compared to previous years, when staff would be chosen in March 3, months before orientation, staff is now being picked in October 8, months prior to orientation.
This isn’t the only change that orientation has received over the past year.
Talking to one of the coordinators, Kyle Hastbacka, there are many changes happening to the Orientation Program this year. Staff being hired early is just a small change.
We can expect to see a January Orientation Program for students transferring between Fall and Spring semesters.
This is the first year that Orientation Program is making a point to help out with mid- year transfer students.
Usually mid-year transfer students would just attend a January orientation information session. This year there will be a January Orientation Program that will closely resemble the June Orientation.
There will be a high demand for Staff in this year’s Orientation Programs. More staff can be expected to be hired this year. According to Kyle Hastbacka, we can expect to see 50 Orientation Leaders hired this year along with five Orientation Assistants and an number of Alternate Orientation Leaders.
Orientation leaders are the foundation for these programs. “Being an Orientation leader is important because it’s the first interaction students have with Keene State College and it can make or break an experience for a college student,” Marissa DePolo, a returning Orientation Leader, said.
DePolo said that this is especially important for students who may feel homesick or nervous. Orientation helps people reach out and connect with other students. Moranda Lanigan, another returning Orientation leader, said that it provides the first student-to-student connection between orientation leaders and incoming first-years or transfers.
Noah Macri, another returning Orientation leader, said he feels that this helps incoming students become more acclimated to Keene State College.
Students agreed with these statements. “My Orientation was super fun and I loved meeting new people. I was nervous at first but I really enjoyed it by the end,” Chloe Melville, a first-year student, said.
Chris Ziegler, also a first-year student, stated that his orientation experience was “Unforgettable. Everything we did was fun and interesting.”
Both Ziegler and Melville said they are applying to be Orientation leaders for 2016 Orientation. Melville stated, “Ever since I met my Orientation leader and went through Orientation, I knew I wanted to be an O-Leader.”
Ziegler agreed with this statement. He said, “My O-Leader made my experience easier and awesome. I want to bring that to Orientation.”
Orientation leaders can expect to see changes within themselves as well as the students they guide throughout orientation.
“It’s really helped me become who I am today,” Macri said, “Before I became an Orientation leader I was really self-conscious and shy.”
“You become a leader,” Macri stated.
According to Lanigan, she learned how to be courageous as she progressed as an Orientation leader.
“I wasn’t as outgoing before. Orientation helped me out a lot. I feel so much more confident about myself,” Lanigan said.
“You go into training knowing no one, and leave knowing all of the O-staff so well,” Lanigan said.
DePolo said that the staff is very supportive and have supported her through some orientation difficulties she faced throughout the progression of June and August Orientation.
“They’re the reason I’m doing it [orientation] again this year,” DePolo said.
The community is something that each Orientation leader said is worth the whole Orientation leader experience.
Lanigan said the community of the staff was what meant the most to her.
“I can honestly say that if I am ever having trouble nowadays, I can text any one of the Orientation leaders and they will be there for me,” Lanigan said.
Hastbacka described the support system that the staff provides for each other throughout the orientation staffing process. He said, “There’s challenges but, as a staff, you work to overcome it.” Hastbacka and Bisignano both discussed how the staff will be supportive through times of trouble. How the staff boosts its members and everyone knows each other so well and will be there to have each others back.
As he discusses how entering orientation training can be daunting because of how close returning staff members are, Hastbacka said that “the staff is a family.”
“But, as returning staff, you already know that you’ll be friends,” Hastbacka continued.
“Its a judgement free zone.” Bisignano said, “We try to make sure people feel welcome.”
This community is what brings back Orientation staff year after year. With the challenges that are faced as an Orientation leader (such as exhausting hours or trouble with group dynamic) many say it is one of the most rewarding parts of being part of the Orientation Staff. Students give back to the community is such a big way.
It is not only for first-year and transfer students, but also for the Orientation staff.
It takes a lot to be an Orientation leader, but, as the saying goes, you give what you get. Being an Orientation leader shows that this College stands for more than just academics.
It cares about its students and wants every moment here to count. Orientation is about community, in every aspect of the program.
Veronica Reeder can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org