This year I found myself with a strange choice. Whether I was going to run for FOC or not do orientation at all. This was a strange choice because I was deciding whether I wanted to be the most involved person in orientation week, or the least. To explain why I was even making this decision we need to look back.
Two years ago I bought my camera stabilizer (Glidecam HD-2000), got the hang of it, applied to media, bought a new camera and got picked as media. I quickly got right into the role, pulling my first ever all-nighter to finish a video (for WLR). Doing orientation week was pretty awesome, I loved doing media. I think I did some pretty good work and others did too (judging by the amount of thanks from other leaders and the pile of thank you stuff from FOC). On top of that, I got to meet a bunch of engineering people. I’m pretty bad at socializing (not that I don’t enjoy it, I’m just bad at it) so this was pretty significant to me. Since I spent all day doing orientation week stuff I vaguely knew most leaders, if you asked me what colour group a leader was in I knew. All-in-all, I loved my time as an orientation leader and I loved doing media.
So when 2015 orientation leader applications opened up I wasted no time applying. Most things went really well in 2014, but we still had room for improvement. I had experience now and had vastly improved my video editing skills.
During our first projects we made some big mistakes basically taking on too much work with too little people. Combined with communication issues, minimal planning time and arbitrary deadlines we ended up leaving everyone working on the projects frustrated and upset.
In the lead up to O-week things didn’t really improve, losing two more media and only finding out that we were losing one of our main video editors during preweek really threw off our plans. I was so busy working I forgot to adjust our plans to make up for losing 33% of our video editing bandwidth. This ended up dooming us during preweek, finishing the videos to be shown on Tuesday at 3:30am on Tuesday. It also caused us to skip virtually every leader event; we didn’t have time for leader kick off, only 2 of us went to leader appreciation night, we didn’t have time for path lining and barely had time to visit HQs.
During the actual week our team was stretched pretty thin as we effectively only had 6 people (9 people -2 no shows -1 food director) leaving us with 2 people filming and 4 people taking photos. To put this in perspective, the Arch media team had 4 people taking photos and 1 taking video of 4 teams, the eng media team had 4 people taking photos and 2 taking video of 16 teams. I still think that we did some of our best work ever, even if we had to put in 17 hour a day to do it (meaning we had to skip the remaining leader events, aka pop & chips).
One of the roughest things during the week for media is feeling like second class leaders. We certainly get praised for the work we do, which we really appreciate, it’s one of the main reasons we keep working, but the media team is more than the work we produce, we’re leaders too. It’s great to like the picture we took of you, but it would also be great if we were included in plans for food. It also would have been nice to have been included in care bear cuddles. Having a budget rather than being expected to buy everything ourselves would have been appreciated. Having directors give us more than 1 day warning when they need to use over half our team would also be good. The number of times I heard “bigs/huges go to A and edcom go to B” was pretty depressing.
I think a lot of this stems from being the smallest team and not being front line leaders but I also think that people just don’t understand what media does, much like how someone in sales thinks software is made. Who knows though, I’ve never done anything other than media.
In the end I spent an estimated 600 hours doing media work from January until October, more than my last coop job.
After orientation week I haven’t done any video editing, nor have I wanted to. I haven’t even really picked up my camera much and I certainly haven’t made any videos.
I took me quite a while to realize it, but I basically don’t remember orientation week at all. I think it was the lack of sleep that did me in but one way or another the whole week was just a panicked blur. If you ask me which colour group you were in I’m more likely to tell you which team you were on the year before. When I think back on the events I’m just as likely to remember the year before.
So we find our self back at making a choice, apply for FOC or just call it quits. As a FOC I hoped I would be able to prevent the media team from ending up in the same state as last year and help change the attitude of other leaders to the media team. I figured if I couldn’t change this, I was better off not to do o-week again.
In the end I didn’t apply to do FOC, I wanted to focus on getting a great job for my last co-op, and I didn’t quit on orientation completely either, I’m heading back as the media team lead. I’m working with FOC to get the media team the resources we need, I have been working on internal plans to manage the work load and I will be working with all leaders to help change the attitude towards media. Hopefully I’ll be able to permanently improve the media team rather than lead us to a train wreck again, but I guess only time will tell.