This summer, I worked a full-time job for Arcadia in the Orientation program. Being an Orientation leader was something that I’ve taken part in the past two years at Arcadia, but this year was different: I had a paid staff position with a lot more responsibilities.
The quarantine due to COVID-19 was a tough restriction on our work. Usually, Orientation thrives because we’re together as a group, building those personal relationships between teammates and first-year students in person. But these challenges opened a lot of creativity among our student leaders, as we had to think quickly and resolve issues while we moved further and further into an online environment.
My role on the team was to run our new Instagram account as the social media manager and help with special projects that didn’t fit under another member’s umbrella. While this job can be done online, being home heavily restricted a lot of the activities I wanted to do. Things like vlogs around campus, interviews with students and staff, as well as short sketches with my team were all limited by us working from home and away from each other.
A big focus that we had as a team was how to interact with the incoming class in a way that kept people connected and engaged through the restriction of being online. One idea that I came up with was a podcast-style Instagram live show where I spoke with other student leaders about what they do on campus so that students could learn about various clubs, organizations, and points of interest that they would want to take part in. I opened up the discussion to students for them to ask questions to the person I was chatting with. This was the post I put the most time into every week, and it was amazing not only for me to connect with other students, but for the first-years to interact with orientation regularly.
We also held game nights for the Orientation leaders so we could get closer as a team, as well as other events that allowed us to meet online. I was proud of how quickly our team adapted to the situation and made the most of it. I believe that we did everything we needed in order to convey all the information students needed to have a successful Orientation, despite the typical, in-person connections usually created suffering.
By the end of Orientation, I usually feel very proud of my performance and fulfilled by all my interactions with the new students. That’s the main thing I admired and loved about being an Orientation leader; you could visibly see the impact of your actions on new students in a positive way. Working online, from home, could be very unfulfilling at times. Without that physical feedback, I was often left wondering if anyone cared about what I was doing on the Instagram page, and if it was worth all the effort and time I was putting into it.
I’m sure many people have grappled with this feeling as our lives are on hold and stagnant while quarantining even with school. But what I realized is that even though it might feel like that, I still need to put my best work forward and that I can still use this time to develop myself personally through my final year of college.