A new employee finds out how important orientation can be

Published on: January 23, 2024
Kim Mills is the new web content administrator.
My name is Kim Mills, and I’m the new web content administrator. If you don’t know what that is, don’t worry. I didn’t know, either, until someone sent me the job listing. But when I saw create, maintain, and enhance the content on the website, I thought, “Hey! I know how to do that!”

I've been an employee of GTCC for about 2½ weeks, and so far, I really like the place. 

Yes, I know 2½ weeks isn't very long to be able to form an opinion, but it helped tremendously to have the whole experience start in a positive way. 

My name is Kim Mills, and I'm the new web content administrator. If you don't know what that is, don't worry. I didn't know, either, until someone sent me the job listing. But when I saw create, maintain, and enhance the content on the website, I thought, "Hey! I know how to do that!"

This is a new beginning for me. I spent the past 30 years working as a journalist. I wrote and edited stories, designed pages, took and edited photos, and planned content for several newspapers and their websites, including the News & Record in Greensboro and its sister paper, the Winston-Salem Journal. 

It's scary to end a 30-year career, but it was time. And the job listing for GTCC showed up just in time. 

I had two interviews. The first was a panel interview with five people. I was nervous. And I told them so, right off the bat. That was the second job interview I've had in 20 years. They were all very personable and put me at ease right away. After I had answered all the questions they had for me, it was my turn to ask them some questions. 

Good pay and benefits are always nice, but it takes more than that to make you happy at a job. Especially when it's a position you hope to stay in for a while. So my questions were about the work culture, work-life balance, and what they liked about working at GTCC. And I liked what I heard. 

The second interview was with my manager and his manager. They, too, had good things to say about GTCC. So when the job was offered to me, I accepted it right away. 

My first day was all-day orientation. It was nice to have everything spelled out on that first day. Our coordinator was Training Specialist Erin Stearns. She was a logistical queen. She had the technology up and running, helped everyone stick to a schedule, and made sure we were fed at lunchtime. 

I asked Erin why she thinks it's important for new employees to attend orientation. 

"Orientation is your first real impression of the college," she said. "And you learn a lot about the whole college, not just the department you'll be working in."

Some of the tasks we completed during orientation included creating our main passwords, filling out important paperwork, and hearing from employees around the campus about what we should expect as new employees. 

"Orientation also highlights Titan Link, the bookstore, and other things new people might not know about otherwise," Erin added. "We used to offer tours of the other campuses, and we are hoping to go back to that."  

"When I went on the tour, it was like, 'Wow! This is more than a community college,'" Erin said. "It has all kinds of programs. We saw nurses training at the Union Square campus, and the truck driving course at the Greensboro campus, and aviation and other programs here in Jamestown.'" 

Erin said they're hoping to bring the tours back. 

She was right that we would learn about GTCC. It was founded in 1958 and is the fourth-largest community college in North Carolina. The school offers more than 80 degrees and serves more than 27,000 students annually on its three campuses. And there was plenty more.

Scott Jaeschke, director of student conduct and community standards, led a session about ethics and inclusion, among other topics. I thought of it as getting a lesson in being kind to your co-workers.  

I asked Scott why he thinks having department representatives is better than just one person leading orientation. "I'd say it adds two things: It contributes to the sense we want to cultivate that we are a team from day one that supports each other in the work, and it gives our new team members the earliest possible chance to start putting faces with names in their mental resource maps." 

We did meet a lot of people. Kimberly Hill took our tax forms and helped us fill out all the new hire paperwork. LaToya McCandies helped get our direct deposit details taken care of. Mike Perry talked about how purchasing works at a state school. Joshua Boyer talked to us about passwords, how to spot phishing, and how to get help from ITS. Bobby Edwards told us all about campus police and how to get help if we ever need it. Lisa Dunlap and Marcie Rowdy explained our benefits, retirement, and employee perks. And we also took a little field trip down to the police station to have our IDs made.

And speaking of police, Chief Gene Sapino said he also thinks new employee orientation is a good idea. 

"Orientation is an excellent opportunity to network with new employees who are going through similar career transitions," he said. "New hire orientation allows new employees to hear from various program directors about the amazing programs the college has to offer. This approach affords new employees the opportunity to have a personalized support system in place as they become a part of the GTCC family." 

GTCC family ... I like that. 

I hope I am settling in for a long time here.

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