Enthusiasm key to being a Student Orientation Leader

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By Jacob Snyder, Contributor

As a Student Orientation Leader it’s important to be informative and organized about University of Nebraska Omaha’s campus to keep people on task throughout the day. But one other characteristic is just as important: enthusiasm.
Senior Stephanie Pravecek, junior Matt McDonald, junior Sean Robinson and senior Phillip Foster are four SOLs whose job it is to get new students pumped up about coming to UNO and what the school has to offer. They have to be enthusiastic despite what might be going on in their personal lives.
“You have to be peppy and excited to lead a group all day long,” McDonald said. “That can be the hardest part because we do have lives outside of this.
McDonald admits the amount of energy the job requires can be difficult.
“That’s why we drink a lot of coffee,” he said with a laugh.
Even though being “peppy” can be exhausting at times, they all enjoy the job. They each chose to be an SOL for a different reason. Pravecek said while applying for a different position, someone made a suggestion that she should become an orientation leader. Four years later, she calls it “the best job.”
McDonald said, for him, it was a great way to influence freshmen, show them how to get involved on campus and make sure they are getting off on the right foot with classes. As for Robinson, he had friends who were former orientation leaders and said it would be a good job.
“I like to meet new people and have had leadership positions in the past,” Robinson said. “I thought it would be something that would help me get more involved on campus, and it ended up being a lot of fun. So here I am for my second year.”
As for Foster, he just followed his instinct, plain and simple. He was a transfer student and, last year at the transfer session while walking between the Performing Arts Center and the Criss Library, something in his gut told him he was supposed to become a SOL. So he did.
Though the job is fun, it does come with its share of difficulties, like keeping up with the freshmen, McDonald said. Being enthusiastic all the time and walking backwards while giving tours, along with everything else wipes him out by the end of the day.
One difficulty Pravecek runs into is making sure the students are focusing on signing up for classes and not on Facebook, Twitter or any other social media website.
“I think the biggest challenge throughout the day is making sure everyone stays on task,” Pravecek said. “We do have a schedule we have to follow.”
When these and other difficulties arise, the leaders depend on each other for support by feeding off each other’s emotions. If someone is having a bad day, they can talk it out with the other leaders, Pravecek said. She added that the group gets them going again with a pep talk.
Shout-outs are another way the group members support each other. A shout-out occurs when two people are giving separate tours and pass each other somewhere on campus. One will “shout-out” to the other with some type of encouragement.
“Morning routines where we talk about what we are going to do and intros are also a way to get people moving and through the day,” Pravecek said.
For more information on how to join the Student Orientation Leaders Organization, visit orientation.unomaha.edu/become_leader.php.

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