What it was like being a part of a collaborative committee that helped 350 first-year students transition to university this fall
Every year, hundreds of students join the School of Accounting and Finance (SAF) family, eager and excited to begin their undergraduate journey at the University of Waterloo. Although the ideas or concepts of co-op, degrees and designations are not unfamiliar to a first-year student, transitioning and ‘hitting the ground running’ can be a daunting challenge, even for brilliantly outgoing individuals.
This is exactly why AFOW exists.
The Accounting & Finance Orientation Week Committee (or AFOW, for short), is a student-led committee that plans, organizes, and conducts a unique orientation week for incoming students. It focuses on welcoming and helping first-year SAF students to smoothly transition into university life. AFOW annually hosts a series of events in a week to facilitate and catalyze a first-year student’s interactions with fellow classmates and upper-year leaders, and to build long-lasting meaningful connections within the SAF community.
Normally, the committee would host four events - Games Day, Scavenger Hunt, Club Crawl, and Semi-Formal. However, due to the impact and restrictions imposed by the pandemic, AFOW continued to host their activities virtually throughout the first weekend, with two events – Games Day/Student Mixer and Club Crawl. Games Day and the Student Mixer provided all incoming first-year students with the opportunity to engage in different activities, network with their peers/upper years, and gain insightful advice to help with their transition from high school. Club Crawl introduced first-year students to the clubs that SAF has to offer and provided information on how they could get involved. We are proud to announce that we hosted nearly 350 students during this year’s AFOW weekend, connecting the first-years to their classmates, upper-year students and several of their professors, bypassing the barrier of proximity.
At this time, first-year students will be comfortable in their routine and schedules, preparing for their assignments and understanding their responsibilities. Many may decide to pursue extracurricular activities and AFOW is excited to announce that the committee is looking to first-year students to join as Orientation Coordinators for next year’s AFOW!
So, why should you join AFOW? AFOW offers a variety of benefits such as providing a successful alumni network in multiple A&F fields, enriching soft skills by planning orientation events, and providing the opportunity to give back to the community by helping incoming first-year students in SAF. But most importantly, you will be a part of a close-knit family where you can develop meaningful relationships with your peers and receive useful advice and mentorship from upper-years.
On a personal note, after serving the committee as orientation coordinator and vice president in all sponsorship, administration and logistics divisions, it was an honour for me to take on the role of Co-Chair in Fall 2020. As of the authoring of this article, I will be completing my tenure as an executive member of the committee and will be transitioning into an advisory position as a Board of Director member.
Reflecting on my three years, I am proud to have been a part of a family that continues to generate outgoing, kind-hearted and generous leaders and to be a part of a legacy that goes beyond monetary gain or exclusivity. I am proud to have been a part of a legacy that defines and begins a student’s first-year experience. Most importantly, I am proud and deeply humbled to have been a part of a legacy that is designed, operated, and led based on one of the most honourable principles – ‘to give back’.