Jessie Stellini, Assistant Director of Student Involvement & Campus Center Programs
Duke University Union: DUU
What program board do you oversee and what is an example of their events?
I work with a few different committees and role that make up Duke’s Program Board (Duke University Union: DUU) including:
– Vice President for External Affairs
– Downtown Duke Committee
– Special Events Committee
– Special Events Committee
– Last Day of Classes (LDOC) Committee
I also advise the Graduate & Professional Student Council, oversee Duke’s First Big Week programming, and plan events and initiatives in the Campus Center.
What is your favorite part of your job?
The best part of my job is that it’s still fairly new, so it’s up to me to be innovative, and I love that! I really get to try things out that Duke has never seen and see what things resonate with the students here. That process becomes 1000x more fun when the students I work with bring their own creative energy to the programs they plan. They blow me away with their enthusiasm and follow-through. Watching them take the lead and make new strides with each event is incredible, and motivates me to push past “what we did last year”.
Advice for handling a day of show “disaster.”
The first step is really to stay as on top of all of your planning as possible during the planning phase; because when something happens that requires quick changes in the moment, you’ll need information you didn’t think you’d need to pull back up, or you’ll need to update every single vendor, etc, and that’s much harder to do if you don’t have your information all organized to begin with. Your “organization” style may not look like everyone else’s (I’m the queen of owning how chaotic my process is), but as long as you know where everything is that you need, it’ll be that much easier to work through when something crazy happens.
It’s also really important to acknowledge how *you* respond to last minute shake-ups. We don’t all handle them the same way, and that is okay! So if adaptability isn’t always the easiest thing for you to draw on, finding the right people to quickly troubleshoot with you is imperative. Trust me, your colleagues want success for you as much as you do! Day of disasters require quick thinking, action planning, and clear communication – it’s good to know who you have in your court that excels with that sort of thing.
Finally, it’s important to look at day-of-show disasters as an opportunity to see something even better than you expected. Last year we had less than 24 hours to figure out how to move an entire day’s worth of activities to a new location on campus for LDOC. Thinking quickly on my feet is actually something that I enjoy (definitely not something I wish for, but something I know I can handle without hitting too many mental blocks). I knew I couldn’t make all of those changes on my own though, so I pulled in my colleagues to help. Luckily, I had information on how much “space” each activity needed, so with the help of colleagues who are really good with visual/spatial thinking we were able to create a new map of where each activity would go, and connect with all of the vendors as quickly as possible to update them on the changes that were important for them. The end result of that last minute change in location is that people actually LOVED it! So this year, we’re planning to have everything in the new location because of how well it went last year. Disasters sometimes give us a chance to re-invent wheels that are stuck in the mud.
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