This summer, more than 4,000 new students will experience their first days at Temple during one of ten Orientation sessions that run from late June into early August. The two-day program offers a chance to shake off first-time jitters, make new friends and learn about the university’s services, programs, resources and opportunities.
Behind each session are 32 bright, energetic and dedicated members of the Owl Team who have been working for months to make Temple students’ first impressions of the university meaningful. The student leaders coordinate Orientation activities as well as Welcome Week events leading up to the start of classes.
Owl Team leaders are sometimes confused with their Undergraduate Admissions Office counterparts, the Owl Ambassadors, who provide tours to prospective students year-round. In fact, the two groups play complementary roles in attracting and transitioning new students to Temple.
Incoming students’ introduction to the Owl Team begins within the first minutes of Orientation, when the group performs its “Fly In, Fly Out” routine. Lined up across the Temple Performing Arts Center stage, team members sound off in succession, sharing their names and quirky personal attributes.
Throughout the remainder of each session, leaders spend much of their time working with small groups of students. They lead ice-breaking sessions, facilitate group discussions and share valuable insights that ease the transition to Temple.
The process for becoming part of the Owl Team is highly competitive, a recognition of the members’ stature as role models among the student body. Team members are screened from a pool of more than 100 initial applicants and must successfully navigate group evaluation sessions and individual interviews before being selected for the role. Because of the time demands of the position, team members agree to forgo spring study abroad, summer classes and certain other campus leadership positions.
“The Owl Team Leaders work closely with incoming students and parents, providing one of the first impressions of the university,” said Rebecca Breuninger, Orientation program director. “Therefore, it’s imperative we hire a diverse group of students who are knowledgeable, involved and who display a sense of pride about their experiences at Temple.”
In the months leading up to summer, Owl Team leaders attend training sessions and an overnight retreat that prepare them for the job. For the duration of the summer program, they receive free housing in Johnson and Hardwick Hall and a summer meal plan, in addition to their compensation. But those perks are only a small part of the incentive to take on what most students consider to be extremely rewarding work.
“I love this job,” said Owl Team leader Grant Lindeman. “It really is the best I’ve ever had.”
Meet some members of the Owl Team
Why I became an Owl Team leader: “I applied because I wanted to help the incoming freshmen learn and get excited about Temple's amazing campus and all of the resources that it has to offer.”
Most rewarding aspect of the job: “My favorite part about this position is interacting with the new students. I like to learn about their background and what they want to do in the future.”
Most memorable day: “The moment I realized the impact that the Owl Team has on the incoming freshmen. During check out, one student came up to us and thanked us, explaining how much she appreciated our enthusiasm and was ecstatic to be a Temple Owl.”
Why I became an Owl Team leader: “Orientation has a big effect on the outlook an incoming class has entering college, so I want to get them excited to experience the best four years of their lives.”
Most rewarding aspect of the job: “It's like being a big brother. I can now share my experiences with the people who are just about to go through the same things.”
Most memorable day: “During the icebreakers, the freshmen put aside any timidness they have and come out of their comfort zones.”
Major: Music Therapy
Why I became an Owl Team leader: “Coming from Long Island, I didn't know anybody at Temple, but during orientation the Owl Team Leaders helped us to create friendships that made the transition into college easier. I knew I wanted be an Owl Team Leader to help those worried freshman and remind them that I am here for them.”
Most rewarding aspect of the job: “I love getting to spread the pride I feel at being a Temple Owl. My goal during orientation is to get them to feel that same excitement. I want to show them that they made the right decision by coming to Temple.”
Most memorable day: “One night, I was walking to 7/11 and I found my group at Alumni Circle creating and singing their own version of "Fly In, Fly Out" at the top of their lungs.”
Major: Human Resource Management
Why I became an Owl Team leader: “I discovered that I really enjoy talking to prospective students about Temple while giving campus tours as an Owl Ambassador. Becoming an Owl Team leader seemed like a way to get to know students even better and just have a great time.”
Most rewarding aspect of the job: “I love working with and getting to know the other Owl Team Leaders. A lot of us would have never expected to be friends, yet we fit together so well!”
Most memorable day: “One time some of the Owl Team leaders and I organized a game of ultimate frisbee and students from my group came out to play. Working as a team and hanging out outside the students' required events was a great opportunity to get to know my students on a deeper level, so that by the end of the session we had inside jokes and I was so excited to see them on campus next year!”
Why I became an Owl Team leader: “Along with my love for taking on leadership roles and respect for the Owl Team, I had heard from previous Owl Team leaders that not only was it a great job, but it was an amazing experience to work and live with other Owl Team leaders for three months.”
Most rewarding aspect of the job: “I love the people I work with; they are some of the most inspiring, enthusiastic and just amazing people I've ever met.”
Most memorable day: “I don't have a most memorable day, but at each orientation there is one moment when I know I'm doing my job well — whether it is students texting me after their orientations to thank me or simply playing a game of pool with a student. Those moments make it worth it.”
Major: Public Relations
Why I wanted to be an Owl Team leader: Along with gaining leadership experience with big groups of people, I like the fact that I can serve as a role model for the incoming freshmen.”
Most rewarding aspect of the job: “The excitement about college — picking your classes and interacting with new people — is so amazing to watch.”
Most memorable day: “One day, a few students in my group gave me a hug and thanked me for all I had done. It made me feel like I had a positive impact on their experience at orientation.”