Presenting: A three-part story with a conclusion that is, in fact, the whole point.
I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t busy planning orientation.
In the winter of 2009, I found myself sitting in the office of the Dalhousie Student Union’s Vice-President, Student Life. I was being interviewed- one of those quasi-fake interviews, since they basically take everyone- for a position on the Orientation Committee. When I look back, I’m not even really sure why I had applied- there wasn’t anything particularly great or terrible about my orientation experience. But I was going to be in Halifax that summer, it was a opportunity to be involved, I liked being busy, and it sounded fun. So there I was.
There I was that summer. And the next. And the next. And the next. And the next. Five summers in a row, I spent my free time (emphasis on free) helping plan orientation at Dalhousie. Considering I completed my degree in four years, that was a bit of a double feat.
After that fifth year of orientation planning, I turned into a traitor and began working at Saint Mary’s University. I worked within the Faculty of Science, and my role had absolutely nothing to do with orientation, yet somehow I found myself sitting on their Orientation Steering Committee. Then, all of the sudden, I was no longer working for the Faculty of Science, and was their (paid!) Orientation Coordinator instead.
Fast forward another year, and I was living in Kingston, Ontario, working for Queen’s, and still planning orientation programming.
It’s been almost nine years since I sat in Kris’s office. Nine years. Nine orientation programs.
That’s a lot.
I’ve always been a writer. Even when I didn’t know what ‘k-a-n-g-a-r-o-o” spelled in kindergarten.
Throughout university, almost without even realizing, I kept finding myself in positions where I was responsible for writing and communicating. I was secretary of my residence hall council, where I kept meeting notes, and ensured all members were up-to-date informed. I helped edit an undergraduate science journal. I developed and maintained a blog, as well as a social media presence, for Dal’s Shinerama campaign in order to share the story of our campaign. I redesigned a website, developed informational handouts, after I became frustrated with the lack of information available to students (and the number of questions I was responding to via email).
Since I’ve been at Queen’s, and even before communications was officially a part of my job, I maintained our office social media presence, helped reimagine our monthly newsletter for all students, and created a biweekly newsletter for incoming students. I’ve developed a webinar series, created social media campaigns, and enhanced websites.
Basically, I’ve inserted myself in communications roles whenever possible.
In 2013, I, along with two friends, convinced Dalhousie to send us to the Canadian Conference on Student Leadership in Kelowna, British Columbia, and I fell in love. I loved loved loved the mountains, and I loved the fact that it was the beginning of March, and I could go outside with just a blazer.
Last year, I spent three weeks in B.C. on vacation, fawning over mountains, hiking, and loving life. I almost didn’t come home.
This year, I spent a week in Alberta, and you can bet I made sure some of that time was spent in the mountains.
Mountains are the key theme here.
Sometimes, three things that seem unrelated come together to create one magical, wonderous thing. This is one of those times.
In January, I’m moving to B.C. to develop an online orientation program for the University of Victoria, and I couldn’t be more excited.
I’ve always said I don’t really know what I want to do with my life, while continuing to take on roles and responsibilities that, at the core, are very similar. And while I still say I don’t really know what I want to do with my life, I’m certainly getting closer to figuring it out.
The focus of my job at UVic is still going to be supporting incoming students in making a successful transition to university, the goal that has always been the foundation of what I do.
I still get to be a part of orientation programming, but no longer hold all the responsibility for making the event run smoothly, which will be a welcome break, and very likely reduce the amount of anxiety I feel in any given August.
I still get to write, and in fact will probably be writing so much content that I’ll complain about it later (while also loving it).
And above all, I get to explore how we can use the online world and online tools to teach and educate and inspire. If you haven’t figured out that I’m interested in this yet, then you probably don’t follow me on Twitter.
And finally, I get to do all of this while living in a place where I can see mountains whenever I want.
Have I mentioned I’m really excited?
Welcome to my west coast adventure.