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Nicolas Lee

Cornell Orientation 2018 NODA Internship verification of hours and site visit summary

Supervisor: Peggy Arcadi

Director, New Student Programs
3338 S. Balch Hall, Tatkon Center
Ithaca, NY 14853

September 5, 2018

Dear Nic,

Thank you for your many contributions to Cornell’s department of New Student Programs
during summer 2018, and for being an excellent professional colleague. I’m happy to provide
this letter of evaluation to sum up your accomplishments and speak to how they may inform your
future goals and plans.

I want to begin by attesting to the fact that you committed to and worked the agreed-upon 400
hours for this internship. Thank you for being a reliable and conscientious staff member.

I enjoyed our site visit meeting with Erin Swezey and found that it provided a good opportunity
to reflect on and articulate some of our work together. In considering your experience here, you
shared that you learned about Cornell’s orientation program, and about student transitions, as
well as engagement by current students in supporting those transitions. You noted that you were
able to support the Orientation Steering Committee, our student leaders for January and August
Orientation, and be present for them without “taking over” their work. I really appreciated your
attention to this distinction, as it can be very challenging to join a group that has worked together
on a major project for many months, and is then coming together after a three months apart with
a significant and very time-dependent project in front of them. To recap: the Orientation Steering
Committee reconvenes a week before our six-day orientation program begins; develops and
implements four days of volunteer training for 40-60 Orientation Supervisors and 275 – 350
Orientation Leaders; finalizes details of major events; and plans for and schedules all volunteers
into move-in day and event shifts occurring over a six-day period. They oversee and manage all
aspects of Orientation, handle crises, and need, from each other and staff, clear and constructive
communications processes and support for managing a very demanding schedule. You were
extremely skilled in the role of offering professional support and leadership to the group. I want
to say that the group expressed strong appreciation for your work with them, your understanding
of their role, and your guidance and insights.

You also discussed the opportunity you had to develop institutional knowledge, and to explore
other Orientation models (and meet other professional staff) over the summer, and to think about
and help plan for assessment of our volunteer training and Orientation programs. You reflected
on the opportunity to develop skills related to developing, implementing, and managing large-
scale events, and, at a different institutional level, to navigate departments and divisions, and to
learn about dynamics with non-campus partners and other campus staff. Some of this was part of
intentional professional development opportunities, some a necessity of our work, and I hope as
well that our conversations may have shed some light on processes within and beyond our

I find that sometimes learning outcomes, institutional values, and mission statements can seem
generic or simply become part of the background of our work. In Campus and Community
Engagement at Cornell, and in New Student Programs, we try to manifest the values that guide
our work, and to infuse professional competencies with meaning. Looking over the learning
outcomes from your program, I think that you have touched on all of them this summer, to
greater and lesser extents, and certainly beyond our expectations for those in this role. You have
fully engaged with higher education as a profession; you demonstrated a solid understanding of
students – not only populations you have past professional experience with, but all students, and
your contributions to training and programming demonstrated a good knowledge of student
development as well as diverse populations; and your sense of ethics and equity is well-
developed. You educated all of us about programs, tools, and communications that would be
effective in training and welcoming new students, and we couldn’t have gotten our new mobile
orientation app off the ground without you! You were attentive to budgets. You were an
excellent colleague and collaborator to your nearest associate, your fellow intern, as well as to
the rest of us in NSP.

I think you will find much of interest to do as a higher ed professional, and I think any
department you work in will be fortunate to have you on staff. I encourage you to continue
seeking opportunities that give you the experiences you are looking for as you enter the field
professionally. Ask questions, introduce yourself to people, and explore the diversity of
campuses and programs out there.

One of the hardest things for me with our summer intern program is that summer staff conclude
their time with us just as the full-tilt Orientation schedule is ending. In that context it’s hard to
get much closure, and even expressing appreciation or having a final breakfast together happens
amidst time constraints. I want to thank you again for your work with NSP. I really enjoyed
working with you, and we all miss you!

Best regards,