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Leonicka Valcius

Leonicka Valcius: May 2009

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Superman must have been a contortionist...

I spent the day working in a telephone booth. You know the ones: red, very British looking? Yeah, those. They look absolutely lovely from the outside. But from the inside... well, claustrophobic would be putting it lightly.

Granted I was outside most of the time, and it was actually two booths put together. But still. When I had to fill out my paperwork at the end of the day I was twisting and turning trying to find a comfortable position.

Which brings me to Superman. Didn't he used to change in these things? From unassuming Clark Kent to the amazing Superman? That's incredible! I mean he was what, six feet tall at the very least? I'm a measly 5' 5" and felt like a sardine in that thing! Was the Man of Steel more malleable than once presumed? He had to be. Only explanation for it. Superman: faster than a speeding bullet, more flexible than a bendy straw.

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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Lessons from UTSO

This past school year I had the opportunity to work with the University of Toronto Sustainability Office as part of the work-study program. I am not studying anything directly related to the environment or sustainability so I was pleasantly surprised by how much I learned and and how germane the topics were.

I was part of the Outreach and Communication Team, which gave me insight into public relations on a smaller scale. Some of the tasks we accomplished include hosting an art show that communicated sustainability, improving the signage throughout the university to increase the office's visibility and most importantly completely changing the UTSO website.

I quickly learned how difficult it is to effectively market a message. It's not enough simply to be visible. One would like the audience to get the right message. We spent a lot of time looking at colors, font size, and word choice when designing the new signs.

I also learned that every mundane task is important. In preparation for the launch of the new website, I had the task of finding images to complete the site. I sifted through hundreds of University of Toronto photos and thousands of stock images. I had to find pictures that were the right size, had the right color palette, and once again, conveyed the right message. It was tedious work but in the end the website look much more polished and professional.

Another benefit to working at the Sustainability Office was I learned what kind of working environments I did not like. I realized that I am not comfortable working alone. I thrive off of team work and cooperation. I found the individualistic workplace stifling and found myself eagerly awaiting team meetings. I enjoyed discussing my work with my peers and brainstorming to come up with new ideas.

I enjoyed working at the Sustainability Office for the technical skills I learned, such as building a website, and for the exposure to a different side of the workplace. Ultimately I learned two lessons: green is the new black and cooperation is key.


Friday, May 8, 2009

Welcome! Bienvenue! Bienvenido!

I had always known that speaking several languages was excellent for a resume. I did not however realize how invaluable it would be on the job.

I should have guessed as much. I currently work in the tourism industry in Toronto, one of the most multicultural cities in the world. Yet I was still surprised when I was required both French and Spanish on the same day.

The first was a man who tentativly approached the booth. As I began my sales pitch he shook his head and asked, "You speak French?" He beamed when I answered in French that I did. Apparently he had been in the city for a week and I was the first person who spoke French. I left Montreal when I was eight years old so my French is by no means perfect, but he was happy nonetheless.

I suppose in a small company word travels quickly. My manager had overheard me giving a customer the pickup time in Spanish. Next thing I knew a coworker led an entire family to me. He explained that they were visiting from Paraguay adn spoke little English. It was time for me to work my magic.

Once again my Spanish was less than stellar. I studied Spanish in highschool, but had not had to use it in over 2 years. It was better than nothing. The family seemed to understand everything I said and happily used our services.

In an increasingly globalized world, speaking different languages is an invaluable skill. Gone are the days where your native tongue was enough. I am glad I took the time to learn foreign languages and as I encounter different peoples, both at work and in the course of my daily life, I am eager to learn more.

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