What Does it Take to be an Orientation Leader?
Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to work as an orientation leader, a job that was both incredibly fulfilling and some of the most fun I’ve had in my years at YU.
Work started Monday morning, Aug. 21, with training for orientation leaders which took the first few hours, and the rest of the day was spent preparing for the arrival of the first time on campus (FTOC) students.
By Tuesday afternoon, move-in was in full swing. Students had the chance to meet their RAs and receive move-in information. It was nice to start meeting people and welcome the new students to campus, including many old friends. At around 9 o'clock we finally closed up for the night, and got ready for the fun to start.
Wednesday was the first day of orientation proper. During breakfast, I walked around the dining room with some other orientation leaders, and we helped the FTOCs plan which sessions to go to. At about 11, we began that day’s sessions, the first of which was about all the different technological platforms at YU. It can be overwhelming as a FTOC to have to learn how to use all the various YU systems; I enjoyed having the opportunity to show the new students all of these systems that I had to figure out on my own.
After lunch we moved into some more optional sessions. For example, I gave a session on clubs with YSU President Zachary Notkin (YC ‘24) and Chief Justice Elishama Marmon (YC ‘24). I’m also running two clubs this semester, so between the three of us, we know a lot about how clubs and student organizations work, and were each able to present our own angles.
Later in the evening, there were five choices for fun night activities — seeing “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” on Broadway, Top Golf, a Yankees game, a trip to American Dream mall, or ax throwing, which is what I did along with another orientation leader and six FTOCS. Since the Office of Student Life (OSL) had expected more people to sign up, they had reserved us a separate room, which allowed us to have several tournaments where we all competed against each other. We were there for a bit over two hours, and everyone had a great time.
Thursday morning was focused on the Undergraduate Torah Studies (UTS) program. We heard introductory speeches from President Ari Berman and UTS Dean Rabbi Yosef Kalinsky, and then everyone broke into pairs for some learning. I spent this time showing a few students how to sign up for their morning programs. After that, the group split up and went to learn with some of the different rabbis. I joined the session that was being given by Rabbi Rofeh to the new IBC students (as an IBC student myself, it felt like the natural decision). This was followed by a session with the Shevet Glaubach Center, then a mandatory session with security. The final session of the day explained the caf and all of the important people at YU.
The day ended off with dinner at the Radio Hotel, which was a really cool experience. As part of the dinner, there was a panel about Jewish influencers and podcasting, featuring Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin, Yaakov Langer and Yair Rosenberg. The panel was moderated by OSL Director Jonathan Schwab and was a great end to the day.
On Friday, I had a quick brunch with other students before heading to the US Open. We had the opportunity to watch Novak Djokovic, the #2 ranked player in the world, while he was practicing, and we also had the chance to watch a few matches, before heading back to YU to prepare for a wonderful first Shabbos of the year.
On Sunday, we continued helping FTOCs settle in before preparing for the annual barbeque in the afternoon, where we were able to just relax, enjoy the barbecue and welcome all our friends as they returned to YU.
Overall, I had a fantastic time at orientation. OSL was really pleasant to work for, the group of orientation leaders was superb, and I really enjoyed meeting all the new students. The sessions genuinely seemed helpful, and we were actually able to teach the FTOCs some important things. The off-campus activities were fun, and spending Shabbos with just the new students felt very special. The barbecue felt like a nice ending to the entire event, especially as I got to see my other friends as they moved in throughout the day.
I guess the best question is “Would I do it again?” Honestly, yes. There is absolutely no question in my mind that I would do it again if given the opportunity, and if all of this sounded fun or meaningful to you, then I would definitely recommend applying to do it next year!
Photo Caption: First Time on Campus (FTOC) students enjoying night activities at orientation
Photo Credit: Yeshiva University