Go Team Changes Bring Increase in Applications

207 — that is the record-breaking number of applications USF’s Get Oriented (GO) Team received this year. According to the Office of New Student & Family Programs, last year they received 107 applications. That is a 93 percent increase in applications for what is expected to be a team of 32.

These orientation leaders are more than their signature green jackets. GO Team is a predominately student-run program which aims to help first-year and transfer students ease into USF during the three-day orientations in the fall and spring.

“I think the reason why a breaking number of applicants applied this year was because of how the team truly transformed last year,” senior Sofia Rucker said, who was an Evening Events Team Lead. “My partner Dominique Dollenmayer and I noticed that the events hadn’t been changed in years, and decided to reimagine this role and reprogram the weekend with new campus traditions. We really had the freedom to make it our own and make the changes we had always dreamed about.”

In past years there have consistently been 32 students in GO Team. Most are Orientation Leaders, but returning applicants also have the opportunity of applying to be one of eight Team Leads, who take on different responsibilities within recruitment, logistics, night events and training. In addition, there are four Returning Orientation Leaders who assist the Team Leaders.

The logistics were part of the reason things worked so well at fall orientation, according to Rucker.

In the past, GO Team has had advisors from the Office of Student Leadership and Engagement help oversee the team, but this changed in fall 2018. Junior Sky Gerdes was a Logistics Team Leaders for the fall 2018 orientation and said that, in the fall, GO Team worked without an advisor (aside from a graduate student intern), for almost four months.

When looking at this large number of new applicants, sophomore Ashley Lardizabal, the current Training & Recruitment Team Leader, said there aren’t specific requirements for Orientation Leaders.

“There [are] a variety of characteristics [that we look for],” Lardizabal said. “It could be anything, from good communication skills to campus involvement, or even knowledge of campus resources.”

Applicants must fill out an initial written application online. They are then moved on to the group interview and individual interview rounds which are conducted by two people on staff (a Team Leader and a graduate student intern).

For many current Team Leaders, the decision to apply for the position had everything to do with their own orientation leaders they had when they first arrived on campus.

“The first day at USF, I connected with my GO Team leader [named] Faustine, and I actually asked her after our first meeting ‘How do I get this job?’” Gerdes said.

This appears to have been the case for many in this year’s pool of applicants. Freshman Mike’l Gregory is a first-time applicant and said he was influenced by how welcome he felt at orientation.

“I decided to apply to GO Team because I felt the impact my GO Team leader had on me,” Gregory said. “She was so brilliant, so vibrant, [and] she embarrassed herself so we would be able to make [a sense of] community.”

“I think with the creation of New Student Programs, GO Team and New Student Orientation can only keep growing, and this year’s record-breaking number of applications is proof of just that,” senior Rommel Ballesteros said, who was Training & Recruitment Team Leader for this academic year. “I’m so proud of where this is all headed, especially knowing how much work we put in to get to this point, and I’m really excited for the future of orientation at USF.”

A previous version of this article miscalculated the increase in GO Team applications.

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