RU GSE Student Blog

A Student Perspective

Keep Calm and Leap On…

As my hall director internship kicks into full gear, classes begin and my “to-do” list lengthens, I’m finding myself appreciating my summer as a NODA (National Orientation Directors Association) intern at Northeastern University even more. This experience was not only a wonderful professional development opportunity; it was a journey in personal development as well. So, let me tell you all about it!

Decisions, Decisions…

Even since I started the College Student Affairs program, I knew I wanted to pursue a summer field experience in between my first and second years. When it came time to deciding what type of internship to apply for, it was orientation all the way. Besides needing a well-deserved break from Residence Life after my first year as a Hall Director, I’ve always LOVED orientation. Call me corny, but the whole concept of first year transition excites me. Plus, my own experience as an Orientation Leader (OL) during my undergraduate years at the University of Virginia was nothing short of life changing and transformative for me.

When I found out that there’s actually a National Orientation Directors Association (NODA) that places graduate students in summer internships with orientation programs nationwide, I was both pleasantly surprised and thrilled. Naturally, I applied. After I was not matched with my first choices in the first round, I was pretty bummed. But, I kept on keepin’ on and went into the second round, where I was matched with the fabulous Northeastern University.

It’s like it was meant to be. I know people always say things happen for a reason, and I sometimes believe them. But, this time I think it was true. Regardless of your personal philosophy, Boston was meant to be for me, and I was heading off to Bean Town!

You cahn’t pahk the cah in Hahvad yawd…

Conveniently enough, I didn’t bring my car to Boston, so I didn’t have to worry about where I could or could not “pahk” my “cah.”  No one needs a car in Boston. You can even take the “T” (that’s “Boston” for subway) to Fenway Park to watch the Red Sawx play. Okay, okay…enough with the Boston-isms. If you’re not sick of them, though, here’s a “Wicked Good Guide To Boston Lingo,” literally…

Just a few days after closing my Residence Hall at Rutgers, I started training for my position at Northeastern. I would be an Orientation Coordinator (OC) with two other graduate students studying higher education and student affairs at Penn State and Northeastern. My core responsibilities involved developing and implementing OL training, supervising the OLs and coordinating various logistical aspects of the summer orientation program for approximately 4,000 new students and their roughly 7,000 guests over the course of eight two-day sessions.

Once the 33 OLs arrived for training, my colleagues and I hit the ground running with intensive leadership training. The entire group was new to the position, with the majority going into just their sophomore year. For many of the students, the OL position was their first true leadership position in college. It was so exciting to be part of that experience for them, and, by the summer’s end, it was clear just how much the position impacted them.

BEFORE

DURING

AFTER

Now that all is said and done…

As a typical student affairs practitioner, I spent most of my summer worrying about what my OLs and incoming students were getting out of their experiences; however, writing this blog post has helped me think more about what I got out of MY experience.

Finally! A forum for me to be totally selfish and self-absorbed. Ready, set, go…

What Did YOU learn Nicole? Well, I’m so glad you asked…

We’ve all heard it a million times: there’s no “I” in team. To take this cliché expression a step further, there’s also no “I” in leadership. We all lead differently, and that can often be challenging. But, it can be rewarding as well.

By collaborating with two other graduate students to train, supervise and coordinate the OLs, I discovered how different leadership styles could be complementary. The three of us were soooooooooooooooo different, but we all brought integral components to the team. While one of my colleagues was super outgoing and motivational, and the other fully understood the “Northeastern way,” I was more task-orientated and always kept the group on track.  The OLs could learn something different from each of us, and observing that process made my experience that much richer.

Beyond learning how to live without my “cah,” I also learned just how important it is to continually take leaps in life. Just as I took leaps to go to college out-of-state and study abroad, I took a leap by interning at an entirely new institution in a new region of the country this summer. All of these leaps helped lead me to a little bit deeper understanding of others and myself.

My motto is: If you’re too comfortable in life, you’re probably doing something wrong.

So, keep calm and leap on… 

And, for your viewing pleasure, here’s a video snapshot of my summer: 

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One thought on “Keep Calm and Leap On…

  1. Great post Nicole! I can’t wait to read more!

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