I’m sure the title of this blog will throw readers considering that I recently just graduated with my own Masters in Counseling. However, when I say my first commencement, I mean the very first commencement that I helped organize and run for the students at my current job.
The entire experience is so different. As a graduate you come to the location excited, anxious, overwhelmed, and overjoyed. But you as the student do not notice the amount of work which goes into planning, organizing, and implementing the ceremony which lasts no more than 2 or 3 hours at most. Here’s the secret of it all. If you, the graduate, do not notice the labor that goes into the ceremony itself then the ceremony was a great success. Indeed, the graduates are not supposed to know how much work is involved but rather get on the stage to get their diploma while smiling for copious amounts of pictures.
If everything is done correctly then the graduates do not know that you, the staff, have spent months planning the ceremony. They will never know that you arrived at the facility numerous times to discuss the details for the event. The students do not know that you, the staff along with student workers, arrived at the location the night before to set up for the big day. They do not know that you arrived at the location at 6 am the day of to finish setting up while running on maybe 3 hours of sleep which to most is a cat nap. They do not know that during the event you, the staff, are running around trying to look calm while solving every possible problem before it occurs. They never know that when it ends this overwhelming sense of relief hits you and you feel the great weight of how tired you really are both physically and emotionally.
Instead, they, the students, come to you right after to hug you, thank you and take pictures with you because they regard you with respect and admiration. In those pictures you feel as though you look so tired even though you are smiling from ear to ear. You congratulate those students and then set off to clean up. The irony being that planning the event takes months while cleaning up takes about a 1/2 hour. Ultimately, during that clean up time you, the staff, begin to plan for the next commencement ceremony by going over what could have gone better and thus developing a new plan then and there for the following year.
Yes, the students never see you sweat. Instead, they bask in the glory of their big day with no complications and you the staff let them have their day.
I am proud to say that, that was exactly how my first commencement went, and I was especially proud of my team that day.