An in-depth look at being an orientation leader

By Abigail Wojcik

Assistant Features Editor

The time is here to apply for a position as an orientation leader for this coming summer. Applications can be done through Handshake and are due on 6 February for returning applicants and on 13 February for new applicants. Being an orientation leader offers many opportunities for any and all Canisius students.

The Assistant Director of New Student Orientation, Phil Ciallela, is passionate about the importance of a diverse group of OLs “that [show] new students and parents what a Canisius student is like.” Ciallela explained that the Griff Center looks for individuals with all types of experiences and academic backgrounds. People who make good decisions, participate in Canisius clubs or did similar things in their high schools, are tour guides, are commuters or transfer students that love Canisius are just the beginning of what makes a great OL.

An experienced OL, sophomore finance and economics major Anna Kubiak, revealed that being an orientation leader is “really intimidating at first, but probably the best experience I’ve had.” Kubiak loved getting to know other students, becoming familiar with the Griff Center, and making a name for herself as a student leader. She also added that the responsibility “is very demanding, very fast-paced, and you are going to be exhausted, but you can’t show it.”

This being said, not all OLs need to have an extroverted type of personality. Ciallela stressed that because many of the new students coming are introverted, it is helpful to have similar people to help them adjust and make the transition to being a college student. OLs are needed to be open and available, as well as encouraging to students about coming to events with methods that seems most appropriate to the individual.

When thinking about one’s own application, Kubiak suggested being very open-minded and reflective about one’s own orientation. It is important to be honest about why you are applying, because it takes more than minimal effort to really get the most out of the position. It can be challenging at times, and “going with the flow of a situation” is the most demanding part of the job, according to Kubiak. She recalled a time when she got stung by a bee during an intensely hot summer day when everyone was sweating and counting down the minutes until they could get a bottle of water and air conditioning. Kubiak had to keep explaining the activity, so she pulled out the stinger and continued talking.

Undoubtedly, if a student needs to take care of a bee sting, or any other extraneous physical ailment, they should do so, as Kubiak’s determination goes above and beyond typical OL expectations. Nonetheless, this is the realm of dedication that the Griff Center looks for in their applicants, and there are even some changes occurring to orientation this year to ensure that the OLs chosen are those who truly want to be there. OL hours are being shortened to use their time more wisely; therefore, there is a need for a greater number of OLs “to make the orientation groups of new students smaller so they have better interactions with the leaders,” Ciallela explained.

Orientation Leaders will still go through a similar interview process and training. Kubiak said that the interviews are very thorough because they group-test with ot

her applicants. An applicant is put through simulations of several situations to see how they react and handle them. These situations also help the Griff Center pair OLs together in order to have contrasting duos that can effectively represent Canisius students to the new orientees. For most incoming freshmen and their parents, orientation leaders are their first interactions with their future classmates. Their experiences, advice, and knowledge are the most valuable things to nervous newcomers.

This coincides with what the most rewarding part of being an OL is to Kubiak. She said, “I had a really good OL group that I still see a lot and talk to about their classes, majors, [and] lives. It’s amazing because they are a bunch of great students that I wouldn’t have gotten to know otherwise.” This type of connection is exactly what Ciallela shared is the focus of New Student Orientation. He explained that the purpose of the icebreakers (that people either love or hate) is to make little connections between people of contrasting majors or distant hometowns. Hopefully, these connections form relationships that continue throughout the semester and throughout people’s college careers.

The overall message of Kubiak’s and Ciallela’s testimonies of New Student Orientation is that if you are thinking about applying to be an OL but are on the fence about it, apply anyway. It can’t hurt, and the experience will be worth it. In addition to the perks of moving in early and making friends and connections, it is also an exceptionally unique opportunity to build a resume and improve your overall time and appreciation for Canisius College.

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