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Lessons from UTSO

Leonicka Valcius: Lessons from UTSO

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.

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