Being an orientation leader isn’t easy. It’s early mornings, late nights, and long days. I know, I was one in college. Despite the massive amount of energy needed to be an OL, OLs should never stop modeling the best type of behavior at any moment throughout orientation and beyond, for several reasons:
1) Freshman are constantly looking towards you, the orientation leader, as to how they should act at any moment.
If they see you on your phone during a talk, they will go on their phone. If they see you talking to a friend during a program, they will talk to their friend. Inversely, if they see you raising your hand, they will raise their hand. If they see you getting into the icebreaker, they will get into the icebreaker. They will follow your lead.
2) You set the level of energy for the group.
If you show up at 50% energy, you only give the first year students the permission to play up to 50%, but if you show up at 100%, you give them permission to play up at 100%.
3) You are an ambassador of the school’s brand.
What you wear, what you say, and what you do, are all a reflection on the school’s brand. This not only includes the moments during orientation when you are wearing your lovely OL shirt, but also in the evening, off-campus, and even throughout the rest of the year. Once you sign up to be an Orientation Leader, you are one for the whole year…even though your job technically ends after orientation.
Once every orientation leader starts to see the bigger purpose, and value, of their role, they can see how every action they take can add to, or take away from a first-year student’s sense of feeling welcomed, connected, and engaged.