This summer, I spent the majority of my Mondays and Thursdays with New Student Orientation (NSO) at multiple orientation sessions, presenting on behalf of the Off-Campus Students’ Association (OCSA) and informing incoming commuter students about the amenities available to them at Rutgers. In the process, I ended up shadowing the orientation leaders (OLs) and NSO staff and learning more about how much effort, and fun, goes into being an orientation leader.
Obviously, an OL’s role is to assimilate incoming students to the University and serve as a peer mentor of sorts to help ease their transition into collegiate life. However, I’ve learned that there is much more to being an OL than that simple job description. I’ve learned that the OLs go through extremely intensive training sessions before the orientation sessions begin for the summer, which I partly expected, but not to the extent they described. Not only were they required to take the Student Leadership Course, they had to endure weeks of training covering all of the responsibilities, duties, and protocols that they needed to be aware of, which is a ridiculous amount of information. More importantly, they had to be able to apply what they learned all throughout the summer, which most of the OLs I “shadowed” did.
When I learned that the OLs rotated positions between regular student OLs, parent OLs, and a behind-the-scenes “special operations” team, it all made sense that all of that training is necessary. This was something I had never known before; that each member had to be able to bounce between roles every session and be responsible for all of that information was very surprising to me. I gained so much respect for them after learning about all of the hard work and dedication involved in being an OL, especially when I noticed them having so much fun performing their duties.
One OL in particular, who I won’t mention by name, was so ecstatic about her about her role, whatever it was, at every session that her enthusiasm was literally infectious. The effect she had on the people around her was unreal. It was like watching a hypnotism take place. During one session, one of her students was sitting alone during the social and too shy to attend the dance party. When she noticed him, she went out of her way to include him in the fun everyone else was having, and that was great. I have a feeling that other OLs would not have acted as she did, and though it seems like something simple, it was those little things she did that made her personality so great. It was actually because of her and her love for NSO that I decided that I want to become a part of the NSO family.
I am very grateful to have experienced NSO as I have this past summer, as not only did I have a ton of fun and meet some great people, but I also grew an appreciation of just how much work and effort goes into each orientation session, and the dedication shown by all members involved that make it all possible.