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7/6/2010
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4) Managerial Skills: Foreign Service Officers are often required to manage projects, demonstrating the ability to plan and organize, set priorities, employ a systematic approach, and allocate time and resources efficiently. Describe a project you managed or helped to manage and how you sought to achieve the project’s goals. (What was the project? What steps did you take to manage the project? What was the result?)

From the beginning of my time as an undergrad at Whittier College, a small liberal arts college of 2,000 undergrads located in Whittier, California, I decided that I was going to be very active on campus. Getting involved on a small campus was relatively easy as opposed to doing so at larger colleges with larger administrations. Therefore, I just “did it,” participating in as many activities and organizations as possible; if I wanted a great college experience, then I had to make sure I did something to make great times happen rather than wait around expecting great times to happen to me. By my sophomore year, I had become a residential advisor, the treasurer of the student body, and an active worker with the college administration. I was very eager that year and decided that I was going to be on the planning team for the freshman orientation, which was a massive undertaking, but something I thought I would be able to do well. Thinking back to my own freshman orientation, I honestly could not remember much about it other than it had been rather dull and pretty boring; we freshmen had moved into our dorms, but that was the only activity of the day that I had any memory of. As a member of the planning committee, I decided that I really wanted to make the three-day freshman orientation something for the new students and parents to remember and enjoy; so my big ideas began their “grand entrance.”

I had no problem coming up with ideas for getting away from the previous years of boring orientations, but bands, games, food, shirts and most importantly balloon arches seemed unattainable because of my budget for the entire orientation was only $300. With such a limitation, I knew it was not going to be easy to achieve something that would easily reach a cost of several thousand dollars, but I was determined to make sure that this orientation would not be forgotten by the new students. As a member of several other organizations on campus, I searched for funds to realize my goal of putting on a great orientation, hitting the pavement, soliciting funds from Residential Life, the Dean of Students, the Residential Hall Association, fraternities and sororities, and even the science department (whom I had promised the opportunity to make liquid nitrogen ice cream). All of those organizations made phenomenal donations, making nearly everything I had planned possible.

The one problem was that I had underestimated how much balloon arches cost. After contacting several local flower shops, I was surprised to find that the arches I had designed would cost $1,000 above my planned expenses, but rather than give up, I negotiated with the balloon archer. (I’m not sure “balloon archer” is the correct term – then again, there may not BE a correct term and “balloon archer” definitely names the job. Go with your best instincts here – as a teacher, I’d have no problem accepting your word choice, especially since I don’t have a suggestion for a more official job title.) We agreed that I would provide all the labor with my group and the florists would provide the expertise, making it possible for every aspect of freshman orientation to match what I had envisioned.

All the many hours of planning were about to culminate in an amazingly exciting experience. At 3:30 A.M. on the day of the orientation, I met with all 40 members of the residential advisory team, working on the final preparations for the arrival of the several hundred freshmen who would appear on campus in only a few hours. A number of tasks of pivotal importance still needed to be organized, so the advisory team members had to be focused, completing their assignments so the decorating, the opening of the buildings, and the checking-in of the new freshmen all went smoothly. I divided the team into several smaller working groups able to handle smaller tasks. Some groups were assigned to put all the decorations into place; some were to set up check-in tables and then to do the actual paperwork of the checking-in process; others had key assignments (what do you mean by “key assignments” – literally a key assignment, as in using keys to open buildings, or key assignments as in extremely important assignments without which nothing else will happen?). The theme that my team had decided on that year was “A Poet’s Life for Me,” capitalizing on the “Pirates of the Caribbean” craze of that year; since Whittier College’s mascot was a poet, the idea seemed only fitting. We had t-shirts made for all the income freshmen, a DJ in the courtyard of the dorms, catered food, and, yes, liquid-nitrogen ice cream. Question – was the theme “A Poet’s Life for Me” incorporated into the t-shirts?

In order to make sure the day ran smoothly, I had maintained great communication with the outside vendors assisting with the event and also made sure that the college administrators were aware of our schedule, working with them to make sure we did not interfere with the timing of any of their official events. At the end of the day, my staff and I hosted a getting-to-know-you social with a DJ and several performers in the courtyard of several of the dorms. When the night ended, I returned to my room on the third floor of a freshman dorm; passing the lounge, I saw the room full of the new freshmen class getting to know each other. That sight gave me a sense of accomplishment because I knew I had made an impact on the first day of these brand new students. Then, as I was closing my door, one of the freshmen assigned to live on my floor said to me, “Hey, is every day of college like this? I had a ton of fun!” At that moment, I knew that the countless hours that I had put into getting orientation off the ground -- all the hard work of planning and the struggle of finding the thousands of dollars -- had really paid off. No matter what everyone else thought of the event, I knew I had made an impact on at least one person’s first experience; I had achieved all that I had set out to achieve.

The experience of planning freshmen orientation taught me a lot. Knowing all the hard work which goes into planning large-scale events has proven invaluable. During my college years, I planned other big events, including Sportsfest, in which dorms are pitted against each other in a variety of sports; parties with budgets as large as $15,000; and the management of the $150,000 student body budget when I was treasurer. As a result of my experiences, I am capable of producing high-level events, having learned to manage large numbers of people in achieving a common task.

 



Edited by kshro on 7/6/2010 at 3:20 AM EST
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
no problem and thank you. I have three more responses that I am working on now. How long are you online tonight and will you also be available tomorrow?
I probably won't last much longer tonight, but will be available most of the day tomorrow. Do you have any others ready right now? If so, I'll do one more tonight -- should be able to start the remainder fairly early tomorrow morning. If you're in California, I assume I'm at least a few hours ahead of you as I'm on Eastern time. Should be able to help with all of your responses.
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
yes, I literally meant like key assignments meaning the keys that open doors. And yes, the Poets Life for Me was incorporated to be on the T-Shirts.
Customer reply replied 8 years ago
Yes, I have another one ready to go right now. I will post it in another message so you can begin working on as soon as you are done with this response. Yes, I am in California. I will post one more tonight and then hopefully two more tomorrow.

Thanks for all your help!
Customer reply replied 8 years ago
let me know when you are ready and I will post the last one for tonight.
Am ready for third response right now.

Hi again -- I took a few small liberties with the last part. Hope you don't mind!

Here's the latest version -- it's a bit smoother throughout.

4) Managerial Skills: Foreign Service Officers are often required to manage projects, demonstrating the ability to plan and organize, set priorities, employ a systematic approach, and allocate time and resources efficiently. Describe a project you managed or helped to manage and how you sought to achieve the project’s goals. (What was the project? What steps did you take to manage the project? What was the result?)

From the beginning of my time as an undergrad at Whittier College, a small liberal arts college of 2,000 undergrads located in Whittier, California, I decided that I was going to be very active on campus. Getting involved on a small campus was relatively easy as opposed to doing so at larger colleges with larger administrations. Therefore, I just “did it,” participating in as many activities and organizations as possible; if I wanted a great college experience, then I had to make sure I did something to make great times happen rather than wait around expecting great times to happen to me. By my sophomore year, I had become a residential adviser, the treasurer of the student body, and an active worker with the college administration. I was very eager that year and decided that I was going to be on the planning team for the freshman orientation, which was a massive undertaking, but something I thought I would be able to do well. Thinking back to my own freshman orientation, I honestly could not remember much about it other than it had been rather dull and pretty boring; we freshmen had moved into our dorms, but that was the only activity of the day that I had any memory of. As a member of the planning committee, I decided that I really wanted to make the three-day freshman orientation something for the new students and parents to remember and enjoy; so my big ideas began their “grand entrance.”

I had no problem coming up with ideas for getting away from the previous years of boring orientations, but bands, games, food, shirts and most importantly balloon arches seemed unattainable because of my budget for the entire orientation was only $300. With such a limitation, I knew it was not going to be easy to achieve something that would easily reach a cost of several thousand dollars, but I was determined to make sure that this orientation would not be forgotten by the new students. As a member of several other organizations on campus, I searched for funds to realize my goal of putting on a great orientation, hitting the pavement, soliciting funds from Residential Life, the Dean of Students, the Residential Hall Association, fraternities and sororities, and even the science department (whom I had promised the opportunity to make liquid nitrogen ice cream). All of those organizations made phenomenal donations, making nearly everything I had planned possible.

The one problem was that I had underestimated how much balloon arches cost. After contacting several local flower shops, I was surprised to find that the arches I had designed would cost $1,000 above my planned expenses, but rather than give up, I negotiated with the balloon archer. (I’m not sure “balloon archer” is the correct term – then again, there may not BE a correct term and “balloon archer” definitely names the job. Go with your best instincts here – as a teacher, I’d have no problem accepting your word choice, especially since I don’t have a suggestion for a more official job title.) We agreed that I would provide all the labor with my group and the florists would provide the expertise, making it possible for every aspect of freshman orientation to match what I had envisioned.

The theme that my team had decided on that year was “A Poet’s Life for Me,” capitalizing on the “Pirates of the Caribbean” craze of that year; since Whittier College’s mascot was a poet, the idea seemed only fitting. We had t-shirts with the theme and poet logo printed as orientation gifts for all the incoming freshmen, a DJ in the courtyard of the dorms, catered food, and, yes, liquid-nitrogen ice cream.

All the many hours of planning were about to culminate in an amazingly exciting experience. At 3:30 A.M. on the day of the orientation, I met with all 40 members of the residential advisory team, working on the final preparations for the arrival of the several hundred freshmen who would appear on campus in only a few hours. A number of tasks of pivotal importance still needed to be organized, so the advisory team members had to be focused, completing their assignments so the decorating, the opening of the buildings, and the checking-in of the new freshmen all went smoothly. I divided the team into several smaller working groups able to handle smaller tasks. Some groups were assigned to put all the decorations into place; some were to set up check-in tables and then to do the actual paperwork of the checking-in process; others had key assignments, assuring that all rooms needed within the various buildings would be available throughout the day.


In order to make sure the day ran smoothly, planning was key, but I had also made certain to maintain great communication with the outside vendors assisting with the event and also verified that the college administrators were aware of our schedule, working with them to ascertain we did not interfere with the timing of any of their official events. Communicating with the freshmen themselves was also very important. At the end of the day, my staff and I hosted a getting-to-know-you social with a DJ and several performers in the courtyard of several of the dorms. When the night ended, I returned to my room on the third floor of a freshman dorm; passing the lounge, I saw the room full of the new freshmen class getting to know each other. That sight gave me a sense of accomplishment because I knew I had made an impact on the first day of these brand new students. Then, as I was closing my door, one of the freshmen assigned to live on my floor said to me, “Hey, is every day of college like this? I had a ton of fun!” At that moment, I knew that the countless hours that I had put into getting orientation off the ground -- all the hard work of planning and the struggle of finding the thousands of dollars -- had really paid off. No matter what everyone else thought of the event, I knew I had made an impact on at least one person’s first experience; I had achieved all that I had set out to achieve.

The experience of planning freshmen orientation taught me a lot. Knowing all the hard work which goes into planning large-scale events has proven invaluable. During my later college years, I planned other big events, including Sportsfest, in which dorms are pitted against each other in a variety of sports; parties with budgets as large as $15,000; and the management of the $150,000 student body budget when I was treasurer. As a result of my experiences, I know that I am capable of producing high-level events, having learned to manage large numbers of people in achieving a common task, and I also have the satisfaction of having made a positive impact of those large numbers of people.



Edited by kshro on 7/6/2010 at 3:41 AM EST
kshro
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Satisfied Customers: 9
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
I definitely don't mind! Thank you. It looks great! I will accept this answer and post the last one for tonight.
Glad to have helped. Your freshman orientation sounds like it was a really fun and very well-run event!
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
ok, I just posted the last response for the night. I will post the next two tomorrow. Do you have a prefered time that you are on because I would like to continue working with you for the remaining two if that's ok?
It's 9:00 A.M. here -- I will be available for most of the remainder of the day, so will check fairly frequently for your posts. Will be glad to work with you on your last two essays.
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