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Confessions of an Orientation Leader

By Andrea Ordonez, Assistant Editorial Editor

After accepting admission into Hofstra, every first-year student is highly recommended to attend a summer orientation session. Two years ago, I remember meeting some of my closest friends at orientation, and vowed to be an Orientation Leader one day. Free food, my own suite, and a large stipend made the position even more appealing. However, I wanted the job so that I could positively promote Hofstra and all its resources to first-year students.    

Like any summer job, I thought being an Orientation Leader would mean coming in to work for the week and having weekends to myself. Upon receiving the position, I found that a large focus of training pertained to staff bonding. Plenty of opportunities to share personal stories and work ethics were made in hopes that this information would lead to a more unified staff.

With an overall introverted personality, I found it difficult to present my whole life story, pet peeves and pragmatic work ethic to a staff I knew for less than two weeks. The thought of knowing my staff on a deeper level seemed unnecessary to me; I just wanted to be at a place were I could work with them professionally rather than personally.

While I genuinely love my fellow Orientation Leaders, the strong emphasis on staff bonding made me question at times what was being promoted to us as the overall goal of summer orientation. Were we here to just make friends, or to help the first-year students? Strongly believing in the latter, I skipped late night dance parties and hangouts in the courtyard, and spent weekends far away from Hofstra.

Although the structures of the Tuesday-Thursday sessions kept the same schedule, Mondays and Fridays were always guaranteed to be "roll with the punches" days. Many times, we were texted last minute to do tasks that were not even prepared for us to do, and when the complaining began, we were told to keep a smile on.

Being the leader of nearly 100 students over the summer, I learned to become resistant to petty complaints from students who disliked the food or wanted to go home for the night. Despite the occasional complaint, my students taught me everything from how to invest in silver and gold, get cheap concert tickets, and beat all levels of Angry Birds. More importantly, they continued to show me that Hofstra was a place I still loved and where I wanted to be.

During my exit evaluation, the feedback pertained to how I was too quiet and serious, and that the position was suppose to make me come out of that shell. I felt this was contradictory to the many hugs and comments I received from my students and staff about being a hard worker and easily approachable.

Overall, I believe that many undermine the hardships of being an Orientation Leader. We are more than people who like to sing and dance all summer long, and are not, as many assume, people who take the position because we do not have friends to go back to in our hometowns for the summer. We deal with complaints and long hours, scattered schedules and constant criticism. But through it all, we still acknowledge the good that Hofstra has to offer and seek to promote that all summer long.

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