I spent my summer break working for the Office of Orientation Programming as an Orientation Advisor. It was definitely one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever gone through and already miss it!
This summer has been my favorite summer ever. Imagine getting paid to go to camp and talk about USC to a bunch of people who also love USC. That is basically what it is like to be an Orientation Advisor.
I applied in the fall mainly because my friend from high school was applying and I didn’t think too much about it. After getting the position I really had no idea how awesome an experience it was going to be. Over the course of the summer I fell in love all over again with electrical engineering as I talked with incoming students about the department. The hours were a bit unusual because I would work about 3 days a week but from around six to midnight.
In our free time the orientation advisors got incredibly close. I don’t really understand how a group of 35 students from all different places and departments, not to mention different personalities could have gotten so close, but we did. We were this huge family or fOAmily as we like to say. It was this beautifully supportive group, when one of my roommates (shes goes by UMI and you should check her out on Spotify) was having a concert or signing with her agent we were all there cheering her on. Whenever an OA was doing anything, cutting off all their hair, putting together an art show, or just posting on instagram, all the other OAs were encouraging and loving. We had cupcake wars, singing lessons, wedding planning sessions, mario kart nights, Mama Mia dance parties and so much more. Almost every week all of us would pool resources and cook big family dinners and have a huge feast outside. Laughing and hanging out over vegan or gluten free or regular home cooked food had never meant so much to me. We really were this amazing family who was big and diverse and loved USC.
If the job was just getting to meet these awesome people that would have been enough. However there was work involved (like moving stanchions which was definitely the worst part). I got to work with over 150 new students personally and so many more just in passing. Their nervous energy as well as earnestness about doing well at USC kept bringing me back to my first semester. It put everything I do in perspective, I love school but I realized just how MUCH I love USC. This place is so special and talking for hours on end about why it’s important to me made me realize that.
Registration was also humbling because 40 very stressed engineering students in a room made me realize how lucky I was to know how the system works. As I watched (in horror sometimes) students would hit error after error and have class after class close. Some people’s true character was shown as they had to sign up for the last available GE about ancient south asian scripture. It was part of my job to help dissipate that raw fear and despair and sometimes it was not easy.
However nothing made me feel so good as helping a student who had hit rock bottom finally get a completed schedule. I loved being able to share classes that I had enjoyed or my favorite math professors. Just being able to be there for the students who needed it most was probably the highlight of my job (besides all the other awesome stuff and free food). My summer was filled with purpose and joy and love, so yes, it was definitely the best summer ever.