From Student to Employee: Erin Giles and the First Stop Office

Photo by Dean ViolantiPhoto by Dean Violanti

Many returning students may have noticed her continued presence: Erin Giles, despite graduating earlier this year, continues to be heavily involved on campus.

Giles is very excited to be returning to McDaniel with a career in the First Stop Office and has enjoyed a warm welcome back. Giles states, “I have had so many faculty members, staff members, [and] students come out of their way to greet me and welcome me back.” She also notes that it’s a continuation of the “home” she’s had since her freshman year.

Her current position, however, was not part of her original post-graduation plans. Last year, Giles’ main goal was to pursue her master’s degree in communications from The Johns Hopkins University. However, these plans changed once she discovered that a position had opened up in the First Stop Office. So, now, she’s working here full-time alongside Dean Violanti while pursing her master’s degree online.

Forms of academic support are very common across the U.S. Nearby Carroll Community College offers a few, such as Academic Success Coaching and various tutoring opportunities and workshops, to name a few. Additionally Georgetown University in Washington D.C., offers the Georgetown Scholar Program, which “provides financial, academic, and social support to high achieving, low-income students…” among other support networks.

McDaniel itself has its own selection of resources, such as the Writing Center, SASS, and, of course, the First Stop Office, among others. Giles, however, believes that “McDaniel is ahead of the curve with the First Stop Office! By focusing specifically on Transfer and FY students, our office is able give them targeted attention during their transition into McDaniel.”

The First Stop Office itself is geared towards new students. It is marketed as “…the one-stop place for students to ask questions, get information, come in and say ‘hello’ and get individual academic support.” It is also manages peer mentors, first year seminars, transfer seminars, and new student orientation. A variety of events take place in the office as well, such as workshops and “First Look” sessions.

Giles’ position, precisely, is Program Assistant within the First Stop Office, which certainly keeps her busy. Among many other responsibilities, Giles manages the office and maintains organization within it.

From her many experiences, Giles knows McDaniel extremely well. “I was a peer mentor for three years” says Giles, who was confident she’d be an excellent candidate for the job given her preexisting knowledge. In addition to her years as a peer mentor, Giles states, “I was involved in tons of clubs and organizations while I was a student, so… I have almost a unique knowledge of a lot of different facets of McDaniel.”

There was, however, a learning curve for Giles. While she has accumulated familiarity with the many student aspects of McDaniel, she needed to learn the various knowledge bits among faculty and staff.

Nonetheless, the transition from student to employee has been a positive experience for Giles, who states that it has been “…like [she] started a new job without being completely new.”

As for the future, Giles hopes to not only maintain the various events and services managed through the First Stop Office, but to also undertake new projects. This, along with graduate school, keeps her quite occupied. However, on this, Giles says, “I do keep a busy schedule, but I like it that way.”

Be on the look out for Giles and feel free to visit the First Stop Office throughout the year.