So, I'm finally done in my position as OTM at UTD. The job may or may not be "officially" over, but I've gotten my paycheck and there are no more things that we are required to do, so... that's it. I'm not returning and I didn't try out for Continuing Orientation Team Mentor (COTM), so I don't ever have to deal with that stuff again.

Funny to see myself write and hear myself say these things... I never thought that OTM would be a job that I would get tired of. I thought I would be an OTM for as long as I could. But this year... Was rough.

I guess I'll try to start at the beginning and get my thoughts in order since we have "exit interviews" coming up where the SOTMs and Dan (our boss) are going to ask us about how we feel now that everything's over, and to find out how we can improve things.

So... at first... I knew this team was going to be awesome. We had our first meeting and, while some of those people ended up not making the team because their GPA was too low, most of them stayed, and I knew that the team would be my favorite team. Our team this year was very young, mostly sophomores and juniors, with only a few seniors. We weren't as professional as we were last year, at least in my opinion, but we were definitely more spirited and energized.

Last year, we were expected to always be energized and happy and never look like we were "laying down on the job" and such. I know that Val would have yelled at us (Well, told us to not look like we were tired) had she seen us this year. I guess I feel that the expectations of ourselves were lowered because Dan didn't seem to care as much about how energized we appeared. But we did make up for that in our pure spirit and enthusiasm. We would take breaks and lounge around sometimes, but when it came time to do stuff, we would do it.

And the orientations went well. (Almost) everyone worked together and helped each other and we made it through and made tons of new freshmen friends in the process. But I guess things really came to a peak during the 10-day week-of-hell. 10 straight days of being with each other and around each other and working near and with each other... it would drive anyone nuts, but... it wasn't helped at ALL by our superiors.

Jen and Uzoma were great SOTMs (Senior OTMs), but... they didn't communicate well with us over how things were supposed to run DURING events. We knew what time to start things and where to be, but where to go during a transition or where we would possibly be needed to do stuff... that wasn't clearly communicated. They took on so much responsibility and never really let the others do what they were trying to do, and I think it burned both of them out by the time that week-of-hell was coming to a close.

And I think that Dan should have noticed that we were going to have that much time together and done something about it. Two work days and then two orientation days. Another work day, then three days and two nights at Comet Camp. We get back, get off the bus, sleep, and then go run Success Camp.

That's INSANE.

Without a break in there, it's a miracle that we all survived. And then... the confusion over some of Comet Camp and most of Success Camp was insane... Fortunately, all I've heard from freshmen has been good, so thankfully none of the crap we were dealing with was evident to them.

Comet Camp. The first days were good. We had some trouble with the buses, because they sent us four normal sized charter buses and three short buses, and we were supposed to have five and two instead... but we dealt with that. We worked it out, and got on the road. The first day was fine, though I still think it was really odd to leave at 2pm rather than 10am, and I think that might have added to the problem, seeing as we had to cram together a lot of the things that were normally more spread out.

The second day went well, and was mostly structured, and we just made sure people were where they needed to be when they needed to be there, and I think everyone had a good time - at least until the Galaxy Bash, our Comet Camp dance.

Drama broke out amongst the OTMs, but I kept out of it, and, from what I've heard, the freshmen didn't realize that anything was wrong. Some of them may have witnessed the argument that went on, but I think that generally everyone was having a good time and was dancing, and so didn't notice the crazy crap that was happening backstage.

But the last day... the last day is when I had issues. We never really went over how some parts of the schedule were supposed to work, and I had double duty as both a cabin leader and a bus leader. I made sure I had all my girls in my cabin, and then I let them go outside since I had to go claim my bus, and others were already outside anyways. I went over and found out about the potential bus issues (possible flat tire x_x) and tried to do what I could to make sure that every student would get a seat and could get back to UTD without us having to call for another bus.

About then Jen, Uzoma, and Dan show up, and suddenly Jen is asking me why I let the people out of my cabin and why everyone's standing around. I told her that I didn't know that we weren't supposed to let people out, and she said that they had given that instruction repeatedly.

Bullcrap. I didn't hear it at least. Never at any point did anyone explain to me how things were supposed to run when it came to managing both a bus and a cabin. Sorry Jen, but I did what I thought was right.

I mean, really... we were both on the team last year. Jen, Uzoma, Ricky, Sally, and I were all just regular OTMs last year. We've done this before! I feel like Jen and Uzoma didn't trust me or Ricky or Sally to know what we were doing. Just because you have an S in front of your title, your name it on the plaque outside the office, and you get paid hourly versus with a stipend doesn't mean that you are suddenly that much better than us.

But we got everyone back and fixed the bus issues, and I nursed my pride and slept on the bus. We got back, saw everyone either back to their apartments or suites, into cars, or whatever, and then we unloaded the van and were dismissed to get some sleep before Success Camp the next day.

Success Camp. Oh. My. God. It was in the School of Management, which, unfortunately, is almost the farthest building on campus, and they had recently taken down the walkway between the SoM and the Activity Center, so the path to get to Success Camp was really long, and I think that may have deterred some students. (It nearly deterred me!)

But when we started checking people in, we put them in one room to start assigning them to sessions and stuff, and I ended up passing out the plastic covers for their nametags. Well, we ended up with 100+ more people than we were expecting, and we started filling up multiple rooms. We had four rooms with about 100 each, and once I finished passing out the covers, I figured I could move on to another room, since the room I was in was already filled.

Well, when I got to another room, Uzoma was in there, trying to do more assigning of interest sessions (stickers on the nametags) and I asked her if I should start passing out the covers, just to speed up things.

She told me no.

I don't understand why. I know we were trying to put the stickers on the nametags, but... to not pass out the covers when someone has the time to do so, just slows down everything else in the end. I don't get it.

And later that day, when Jen, Uzoma, and Dan said "Goodbye duty roster. Hello improv." my first reaction was "Oh shit." To say goodbye to a structured way of running the event and to then make it up as we go along... that just stupid and a sign that your planning was awful. I mean, sure, most of the time we don't have that many people as SC, but... our numbers for EVERYTHING have been HUGE this year. We filled FOUR orientations and broke the record for the most people with the fifth one, we had more people at Comet Camp than we normally do... so... you should expect a lot more people at Success Camp too! This only makes sense.

I just don't get it. I feel like the last two days of my OTM time were spent with me being yelled at or in the wrong, people not communicating and expecting those uncommunicated things to be followed, and any and all plans being thrown out the window. This shouldn't happen! To be half-assing stuff at the last minute... it shows that the leadership isn't doing what they were supposed to.

And the team is split into smaller teams for a reason. There's a group of people who are meant to work on ELP, Road Warriors, Comet Camp, and Success Camp for a reason! So that the SOTMs don't have to do everything! According to Sally, who was on the SC team (I was media, so my job was over in June for small team stuff), said that Jen and Uzoma basically took over all the planning and organizing, and never let her or her team know about what they were doing. They would always say that they had it or were handling it, but... apparently they didn't.

Delegation is not a bad thing, seriously.

I personally have a bad independent streak. I have to do it myself. But with something like that... even I would delegate. Comet Camp and Success Camp one right after the other is too much of a job for two college seniors to deal with. Seriously.

I guess that, all-in-all, I feel that our leadership took on too much responsibility, refused to delegate, refused to trust the returners, and failed to communicate well. I personally feel that, during these last few days, I could never do anything right and that I was only ever getting in the way.

I think this could be solved with just passing on the lessons learned, and going back to at least some of our old ways, so that the SOTMs don't feel like they have to do everything.

I hope that Dan has learned stuff from this year as well, and that he will learn to be more open and communicative, and that snapping at people isn't the answer. Telling people that they're doing an "adequate" or "mediocre" job does NOT make people want to work harder. It just makes them want to quit. At least when they KNOW they're doing a good or "fantastic" job.

Dear Dan,

Joking about hating people and never telling the team "good job" does not endear you to us. I personally hate it every time you say that you hate people. Why the hell are you doing this job then? And not telling people that they're doing a good job just makes us wonder if you're even paying attention. You should have expectations of a team, and, when they achieve and meet those expectations, you should tell them that they are making you proud or doing a good job or something.

Stop being a jerk. Thanks.

You're part of the reason I'm not coming back. And a good portion of the reason I didn't try out for COTM.


GRAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!

Okay, I'm gonna go be productive now. Shower and shopping, and I still need to get textbooks and stuff.

*sigh*
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