Another year at Oakland and another year at the Rec are over for me. I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t happy summer vacation is almost here. But being one year closer to the “real world” (whatever that means) is undoubtedly scary. I try not to think about it, but as I start my internship this summer, one of the last steps in completing my education, the fact that I will soon be leaving the safe haven of OU and the Rec Center is in my peripheral, jumping up and down trying to get my attention.
It is this time of year, when spring is in the air and life is full of new beginnings, that I tend to reflect on the years gone by. Looking back, one of my first memories of OU is walking barefoot back to my car after my interview at the Rec. You may be asking: What’s wrong with you? Well, there’s nothing wrong with my except for the fact that I tend to wear shoes that are uncomfortable for the sake of fashion. The story is, after my interview at the Rec, I was feeling pretty confident with myself and decided to save my feet the extra trauma and walk barefoot through campus. Don’t judge.
When that interview took place, I was 18 years old with no job experience and very little people experience. But Marie VanBuskirk and Nick Ladaga (a Membership Program Assistant at the time) took a chance on me – not that I was a loose cannon or anything – and gave me a job as a Welcome Center Attendant. Working on “the front lines,” I learned an incredible amount about interacting with people, customer service, teamwork, problem solving, being proactive, and communication. Maybe that’s why by the end of my first year of school and working at the Rec, I declared my major as just that: communication.
As my sophomore year rolled by, I took a class in Peer Tutoring Composition that inspired me to use my writing abilities to be a tutor at the Oakland University Writing Center. I applied and got the job. But what about the Rec? How was I supposed to leave behind a position at the Rec in which I had grown so confident? When I came to Marie about my dilemma, I was encouraged to follow my pursuits at the Writing Center. Maybe that’s why by the end of my sophomore year, I was a communication major with a writing and rhetoric minor. I became a peer tutor at the Writing Center and left my position as a regular Welcome Center Attendant. But my time at the Rec wasn’t over. I was soon offered a position as Social Media Intern, and jumped at the chance to use my passion for writing to help promote the Rec.
As a Social Media Intern, I was encouraged by Graduate Assistant Sarah Button to choose my own topics for the blog and express my voice in my writing. Positive feedback from people I truly respected like Sarah and Assistant Director of Marketing & Business Operations Maura Selahowski gave me confidence. The familiarity I gained with social media and marketing in my position gave me experience. Maybe that’s why I earned my summer internship position, which I am incredibly excited to start in a few weeks.
I’m trying not to be too cheesy and nostalgic quite yet; after all, I have another year of life to live at OU and the Rec before my time is officially up. As I wrap up this year, however, I’m beginning to realize just how much working at the Rec has positively influenced my life as a student, future professional, and as an individual. When I first applied for a position at the Rec, I did so on a whim; I never thought I’d be offered so many amazing opportunities and experiences that will stick with me for the rest of my life. Looking toward the future, I know I will forever be thankful for the professional staff and other student employees who made my experience at the Rec a positive one. And when the time does come for me to leave OU for more than just summer vacation, I will walk away better for having worked at the Rec. And no matter what shoes I choose to step out in, I know I’ll be more comfortable in them.