OTeam applications for summer 2019 now open

Sean Yoder
October 01, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Applications are now open for undergraduate students at the University Park campus to join the 2019 Orientation Team and don the pink polo.

OTeamers have the responsibility of serving as group facilitators for New Student Orientation (NSO) and assisting first-year students and their families as they start their journey at Penn State. The OTeam also supports the campus’ transitional programming that serves transfer, commuter, international and change-of-campus students.

Those interested in applying can do so at psu.jobs. Materials must be received by Oct. 31. You can read more about the selection process at oteam.psu.edu.

Like in years past, former OTeamers assist the Student Orientation and Transition Programs office in selecting the next leaders who in summer 2019 will support incoming students and help position them for academic and social success. Former OTeamers Elise Warren and Natalie Ondrey will pare down the applications and help choose the next 24 orientation leaders.

Those who spend a summer assisting and guiding their peers through NSO and other transition programs describe a deep and profound personal growth.

Warren, a sophomore majoring in biobehavioral health, said not many people realize the potential for OTeam to improve leadership skills and personal development.

“The training process of becoming an orientation leader helped me recognize my strengths and accentuate them, while focusing on how to strengthen my weaknesses, and through this I gained confidence,” Warren said. “I knew one of my weaknesses was my introversion — the fear of doing something wrong, or being judged, and it often stopped me from going out of my way to reach out to someone or talk to people outside my comfort zone. Through this summer, I learned how to reach out to people and communicate without that fear of judgement.”

She added that her time on the OTeam allowed her to open up to others, and they in turn opened up to her — sometimes about difficult topics such as sexual assault and relationship violence, and where to turn when those things happen.

“I am no longer silenced by fear of judgement,” Warren said. “I am no longer a student who questioned how I could make an impact on this campus, and in this world, because I know wholeheartedly that I did. Though the summer had its ups and downs, its long hours, and its frustrating moments, I wouldn't change it for the world.”

Ondrey, a sophomore majoring in early childhood education, explained that the OTeam is assembled with people from varying backgrounds and experiences, and that they all learn from and support each other.

While training and preparing for summer 2018, she said she learned a lot about Penn State itself, but also her own strengths and weaknesses.

“All going through this process at the same time, every member of the OTeam can support each other and bond as you develop your strengths and become more skilled and effective leaders,” she said. “I got to spend so much time working and growing close with people whose paths I may have never crossed had I not worked with NSO.”

The bond between the OTeam allowed them to better help incoming students, Ondrey said.

“You grow so close with your teammates as you go through training and the summer together, and all get to experience this rewarding time of transformation and growth together,” she said. “And, most of all, working with new students and families lets you see the impact of your work, on a large scale and in seemingly simple one-on-one interactions, like when you help a lost new student find the HUB. For some incoming students, an orientation leader is the first person they talk to when they get to Penn State.”

OTeamers will take a credit-bearing course and have the opportunity to develop public speaking and group facilitation skills, and receive training on leading conversations on diversity, inclusion and safety.

Students who are interested in joining the 2019 OTeam should visit oteam.psu.edu/become-an-oteamer for a complete overview of the process, including a list of information sessions. All students interested in applying must attend one of the listed info sessions.

OTeamers should plan to be at the University Park campus between May 9 and Aug. 25, with a hiatus from July 20 to Aug. 14, during which there are no work commitments.

Ondrey said the skills she developed are universal, that they made her a better leader and communicator.

“I carried these skills into all other aspects of my life, and that’s one of the reasons why being part of the OTeam is so beneficial regardless of someone's majors or interests. I wouldn’t have traded this summer for the world," she said.

Student Orientation and Transition Programs is part of Penn State Student Affairs and Penn State Undergraduate Education. Penn State Undergraduate Education is the academic administrative unit that provides leadership and coordination for University-wide programs and initiatives in support of undergraduate teaching and learning at Penn State.

Last Updated October 01, 2018