It won’t be long before the academic year is upon us, bringing thousands of students back to campus - and for our newest Cornellians, to campus for the very first time. To help students settle into their residence halls and smooth the transition for their families, hundreds of employee volunteers step away from their day-to-day work, and step up to help with move-in. Current and former move-in volunteers share six reasons you should kick off the new semester with this exciting rite of passage.
6. Meet more Cornell colleagues
For those looking to make new connections, volunteering allows you to branch out beyond your working group and meet Cornell employees in other colleges and units with whom you may never work otherwise. Danielle Cox, a program and administrative coordinator for Facilities and Campus Services, volunteered last year after hearing from colleagues about how fun it was.
“My favorite part of volunteering was getting to meet new Cornell employees,” Cox said.
5. Trial run for parents of soon-to-be college students
Move-in can be a “trial run” for your own child’s college move-in experience, or for someone you know. It's the perfect opportunity to gather tips and tricks so that you can be more supportive for their big day.
“It’s such an exciting time for first-year students coming to Cornell. And it’s great to get a better understanding of the experience,” Denise Hubbard, an inventory coordinator for Student & Campus Life, Facilities Management, said. Hubbard has volunteered every year since 2018, and with kids of her own who she expects to one day send off to college, volunteering gave her an idea of what to expect.
4. Share your expertise
Perhaps you are already a move-in expert! Don’t hesitate to offer up your knowledge of Cornell and ease the worries of students and family members.
“Families are excited and sometimes saddened to say goodbye to their new college students,” Hubbard said. “Having staff to talk to, give feedback and answer questions is a comfort for the parents. Especially if staff have sent their own kids off to college and know what to expect.”
You can even show off your photography skills by stepping in to offer to take a family photo. “Families really appreciate it!” Hubbard said.
Shallena Cunningham, an HR consultant who leads recruitment efforts for staff within Student & Campus Life, remembers how she felt going to college for the first time.
“I thought it might be fun to volunteer and experience that again with the incoming first-year students. It’s an opportunity to help make a student’s first impression of Cornell a positive one,” Cunningham said.
3. Get away from your desk and explore another side of Cornell
For employees whose work consists of a lot of screen time and are itching for opportunities to step away from the office, volunteering is the perfect excuse to (momentarily) ditch some of those day-to-day responsibilities. In the past, volunteers have been tasked with directing traffic, coordinating parking, guiding families to residence halls and gathering carts to help unload belongings. This allows you to get outside and be physically active around campus.
For Julie Connors, volunteering solidified her desire to work with students. At the time, Connors was an administrative assistant with Alumni Affairs and Development and missed interacting with the student population. She signed up to volunteer, hoping to see this side of Cornell. “It was so fun to see families drive in, nervous and confused but smiling. I was part of the excitement for students and families, and it was so nice to see their smiling faces,” Connors, now an undergraduate student services program coordinator at the Nolan School of Hotel Administration, said.
2. Bond with your team
For people leaders and supervisors across campus, move-in offers a fun bonding experience with your working team. Lyndsi Prignon, human resources director for Facilities and Campus Services, thought it would be an excellent way to give back to the university while bonding with her staff.
“I enjoyed the time spent with my team and connecting with students and their families by helping them have a good first experience upon arrival,” Prignon said. “It was a nice break from our usual daily responsibilities and allowed us to do something different together.”
1. Leave a lasting impact on new students
Not all employees at Cornell get to work with students. For some, move-in is one of the few opportunities to tie this purpose to their day-to-day work.
“This is why we are here – for the students,” Careen Arsenault, sustainability administrator at Cornell said. She has volunteered many times over the course of thirty-five years working at the university. “I enjoyed having conversations and finding out where they are from and what their majors are."
Christopher Payne, senior director at Cornell Health, often assists students and their parents when they are experiencing issues or difficulties. Volunteering gave Payne the chance to positively impact students’ in a different way.
“I wanted to insert some fun into my work!” Payne said. “I felt a lot of appreciation from students, parents and my SCL colleagues. It was wonderful to experience the positive energy of move-in and connect with our student population and their families.”
New students are scheduled to move in on Monday, August 14 and Tuesday, August 15, while returning students will move in on Wednesday, August 16 through Saturday, August 19.
Grace DePaull is a writer for the Division of Human Resources.