UNO Office of New Student Orientation Sees Rush of Applicants Aiming to Be Orientation Leaders

The University of New Orleans’ Office of New Student Orientation is seeing a rush of applicants aiming to be Orientation Leaders for the 2012-2013 academic year.

One week after applications became available, administrators had already dsitrbuted more than 100 applications to hopeful Orientation Leaders and were still distributing. The final deadline for turning in applications stood three weeks away.

“I always tell my returning staff that it’s a huge compliment to them,” said Christy Heaton, associate director for orientation and first year student success. “Either it’s freshmen who went through orientation and then applied to become an OL or it’s something that an OL did that really struck a note with them and made them want to be a part of that.”

The Office of New Student Orientation began accepting applications for new Orientation Leaders on Sept. 21 in the Administration Building, Room 106. Applications are due no later than Oct. 24. Competition is steep: The Office of New Student Orientation expects to hire 35 OL's in total, including some returning leaders. Last year, the office received more than 70 completed applications. 

Orientation Leaders plan and host summer orientation sessions for new freshmen, transfer students and orientation students and assist new students throughout the year with the transition to UNO’s academic and student life, said Heaton. They provide new students opportunity to become familiar with their colleges, introduce them to faculty and administrators and help them register for their first semester of classes. Orientation Leaders also introduce new students to university resources, campus facilities, student services and social and recreational activities.

The job is a year-round job, said Heaton, who said that OL’s often continue to be a resource to new and transfer students even after their tenures are over. OL’s receive a financial stipend for their work and are allowed to live on campus free during the summer. They also receive professional development training attending orientations, meetings and conferences. Beyond the fun, OL’s are building their resumes and future careers, she said.

“Working orientation, their public speaking skills get better,” Heaton said. “Not that they couldn’t do it without being an OL, but…they have to speak in front of 400 parents and students on a regular basis.”

Every year, UNO Orientation Leaders attend the Southern Regional Conference Workshop and for the past four years have won an award, said Heaton. This summer’s cadre of OL’s brought home three awards.

Trenton Thomas, who graduated in May, was selected to be one of four keynote speakers at a National Orientation Directors Association (NODA) conference entitled “Service, spirit, and soul.” An accomplished musician, Thomas spoke to a group of 900 professionals about “soul” then played the violin.

"There's no cookie-cutter," insists Heaton, who said that all types of students thrive as orientation leaders -- the outgoing students and the more mellow, laidback types.

To apply to be an Orientation Leader, visit the Office of New Student Orientation’s website or visit Administration Building, Room 106.