Cole on Being an Orientation Advisor

Cole is currently a junior studying Sociology at the University of Southern California. This past year, he had the opportunity to take on a position as an Orientation Advisor for the USC Orientation Program – a program for newly admitted students and their families. This is his interview on how it was like being an OA for the 2011-2012 school year.

What was it like being an orientation adviser and what was some of your responsibilities?
Being an Orientation Advisor was amazing just in that it afforded me the opportunity to work with an amazing team of people and an amazing incoming class. As an OA, my main responsibility during the summer was to lead small groups of incoming freshmen and transfer students in discussions and activities meant to help with the transition to USC.

What was one thing that you enjoyed the most from being an OA?
The most rewarding aspect of being an OA is all of the appreciation you receive, especially at the end of session days. After the students register for their classes, everyone goes to Cookies and Coffee at the Alumni House and the students and their guests will come up to you and thank you a million times for literally everything. I had a mom thank me for showing her where she could buy a milkshake.

What was it like being out as an LGBTQ-identified person to the other OAs?
The 2012 OAs are a super diverse group of people, and I really think everyone just took my being gay as another part of my identity. There was definitely a sense that everyone’s own identity was valued within the group.

As a prominent leader of the LGBTQ community here at USC, how was it like taking that leadership experience and using it in your OA position?
My past leadership experiences in the community really helped in my position as an OA. Mainly because the LGBTQ community is so diverse– that helped me take a step back and be able process the different styles of leadership among the OAs, as well as differing opinions in general.

What have you gained from this experience that can possibly help you on your future endeavors?
Mainly, I have gained a sense of independence. As an OA you don’t constantly have someone watching over you, and you have to take it upon yourself to do the right thing when no one is watching. For the most part, you decide how to structure your tour, your discussions, manage your time, etc. Going through all of this really solidifies your confidence in your leadership.

Do you have any words of advice for LGBTQ students who may be interested in applying to be an OA?
Go for it! Being an Orientation Advisor is one of the greatest and most rewarding jobs ever, and the experience of working in a program as elaborate as orientation is invaluable.

Aside from Orientation, Cole is also involved with the Queer and Ally Student Assembly as an e-board member and in Building Government. 

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