Firstly, what is Orientation week? “Orientation Week is an opportunity for new international and some home students to find their way around Sheffield, meet new people and settle into University life in a relaxed and supportive environment before the busier Intro Week. As an Orientation Assistant, you will be an ambassador for the University, aiming to welcome, orientate and engage our new students with all the opportunities that are available on our diverse global campus”. Ever seen students walking around in orange t-shirts the week before Intro Week? They were Orientation Assistants…so why would you want to get involved?
I think one of the best things about the role is the friends you make from the people you work with throughout the week. Half a year on from the first Orientation week, the group chat is still very much alive, from spontaneous lunches and free shots from those who work behind the bars to first hand alerts to new opportunities as they’re spotted around the campus. The Orientation team is diverse and features students from all years, subjects and backgrounds with some sort of mysterious common thread joining us all together. It’s a bit cheesy but true when I say that every assistant is like a jigsaw piece, with all the assistants and coordinators fitting together to form the perfect team.
The activities that you’ll be involved in as an Orientation Assistant are diverse and it’s the perfect week to develop existing skills such as teamwork, as well as to learn new ones such as cultural sensitivity and confidentiality. Unforeseen factors such as weather, technology or event popularity will definitely test your adaptability and creative thinking whilst when you’re talking to the students – you’ll be developing your skills in communicating effectively in a friendly and approachable manner. Whether you’re a third year historian or a masters student in dentistry, these transferable skills are definitely helpful and a positive bonus for any student.
- New People
As you lead and assist on activities, you really get the opportunity to engage with the new students and learn all about different cultures from all around the world (and even from the home students!) I never truly appreciated how diverse our global campus was until I worked as an Orientation Assistant and it’s a truly wonderful feeling when you see familiar faces all around the university – especially those of the less confident students during Orientation week that have since gone from strength to strength settling into university life here at Sheffield!
- Give something back
I first heard about “Orientation week” in the summer of 2014. My place at the University of Sheffield had been confirmed through clearing but I didn’t really know what to expect and to be honest, I wasn’t even entirely sure whereabouts Sheffield was in the country… (whoops). The university contacted me if I wanted to be involved with “Orientation week” to help me find my bearings and a rather spontaneous “yes” led me to arrive in Sheffield a few days later to one of the best “yes” decisions I’ve ever made. Although I was only there for two days, those two days made all the difference – I made a circle of close friends who are still some of my best friends today, even if they are now all around the world! If I’ve helped to give someone else an experience anyway near as good as the one I experienced then it would all have been totally worth it.
If you have ever been a paid ambassador for the university then you will know that they pay well for the under 21s. You can earn a fair sum for the work that you do during Orientation week in September but also for ad-hoc positions throughout the year as they become available. Being paid to socialise and ensure that other students have a good time and that events run smoothly, what’s not to love?
- Learn more about Sheffield!
From discovering how cutlery is made in Sheffield (the city of Steel) to learning about the history of the peaks or simply finding out where the dentistry building is… being an ambassador will definitely open your eyes to the university as well as the city. Talking to other assistants and new students you’ll discover new places to eat, new things to try and facts about different courses at university. If you’re lucky, you might even get to go on one of Tim’s famous local history walks and learn the ‘secret’ of how to know when a post box was installed in the street (guaranteed to boost your street cred and impress your friends).
Last but not least, Orientation week is fun! Each day brings new challenges and new activities from facilitating a variety of social events to running an information desk and leading guided walks. There always seems to be some interesting story or fact going round and even when Orientation Assistants weren’t strictly on rota, many often turned up in their free time to join in on the events. Whilst the number one priority is ensuring that the new students enjoy their week and become orientated with the university, it certainly doesn’t stop the Assistants having a good time either!
Working as an Orientation Assistant is pretty much one of the best things you could do at university and whilst I have listed seven reasons, there are so many more! Whether you’re a first year or fourth year student, why not send in application? (http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/recruitment/index)