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Erin Laney

College: College of Agriculture and Life Sciences  

Major: Biometry & statistics 

Graduation Year: 2025

Campus employment: Tatkon Peer Leader, the Tatkon Center for New Students

Career Readiness Competencies gained:

  • Career & Self-Development 
  • Communication
  • Professionalism 

How did you hear about your campus job?

I heard about the Tatkon Peer Leader (TPL) position from a few upper-level students and it sounded really interesting. I wanted a job where I could build my social and professional skills, and I thought working at the Tatkon Center would be the perfect opportunity.

What are some of your responsibilities at your campus job?

The Tatkon Center is a resource that supports new students in their transition to Cornell and throughout their first year. I support new students by providing that upper-level student’s perspective on campus life. I do so by facilitating weekly programs that provide academic support and promote their well-being and connections, whether that be with their peers or with faculty. 

TPLs also staff The Hub, a spot where first-year students can gather for events and find TPLs to talk to. If students come to The Hub, I talk to them and guide them to Cornell resources. 

What made you choose this opportunity on campus? What was it that set it apart from other jobs?

I chose this opportunity because I wanted to be a mentor to new students and offer advice based on my own experience. Something I feel sets this job apart from other opportunities is the dedication to creating a sense of community. TPLs strive to build meaningful connections between students, faculty, and other campus organizations like Cornell Career ServicesCornell HealthBig Red Rec, etc. in the daily work we do. 

What are your top three skills developed in this role?

1. Career & Self-Development — I’ve developed several skills in my role, including my event planning skills. I've learned how to facilitate events for groups, whether it be hosting smaller events like bingo nights at The Hub or helping with larger events like CU Downtown. I've gained experience in facilitating and incorporating feedback into these programs to make future programs and events the best they can be. 

2. Communication  I’ve also developed my communication skills as a TPL. I’ve learned how to properly relay information to my peers and supervisors, whether we’re at weekly staff meetings or planning events together. This information includes program details, upcoming initiatives, etc. Proactive communication and transparency is key to ensuring we understand one another. 

Communicating with first-year students has been instrumental in figuring out how to enhance their overall experience. By getting their feedback on our programs and resources, we are able to better understand how to make students' first year great. 

3. Professionalism — I've learned how to interact with, and be a helpful resource to, several people in a professional way. First-year students look to TPLs for guidance and support, and being able to do that in a professional manner establishes trust between us. I also collaborate with several campus partners on programs and being professional builds trust with them and forms good working relationships. Some ways I’ve practiced professionalism include showing up on time, taking initiative, and having a good attitude. 

What’s your favorite thing about your campus job?

My favorite thing is that I can grow with first-year students. We host so many programs that help them navigate their first year on campus, but I learn helpful things too. For example, when we're collaborating with Cornell Career Services, I learn new things about job search and career exploration just as first-year students do. 

I’m also thankful to work with colleagues who understand my unique student needs. My supervisors always remind TPLs that we’re students first, and I really appreciate that understanding and the flexibility that comes with it. 

Which experiences in your campus job do you think will help you in your career after Cornell?

The experience I have planning programs will help me after Cornell. Many industries value individuals who effectively plan and execute activities that bring people together, and I’ve done that consistently at the Tatkon Center. 

I also think collaborating with other TPLs on those programs will be helpful because I constantly use my communication and collaboration skills, and those are two skills necessary in any workplace. 

How has working on campus shaped your student experience at Cornell and helped you grow as a person?   

It’s helped me in several ways. It’s given me a safe space and helped me develop confidence as a leader. It’s also provided me with a group of friends, as I’m close with my fellow TPLs. 

Something I’m really grateful for is feeling more connected with students that aren't necessarily in my friend group, but I see around campus. I get to be a friendly face to them and that's helped me feel more comfortable around Cornell and I feel like the work I do makes a difference. It’s nice to be considered a resource. 

What advice do you have for other students interested in campus jobs?

Being committed to building transferable skills is key. Being a TPL doesn’t necessarily align with my major, but I’m still gaining valuable experience and developing important skills like communication, leadership, teamwork, and problem solving. Those skills are relevant in any workplace, and you can develop them in a campus job.

Looking for a campus job? Cornell Career Services can help! Book an appointment for your job search needs Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. or drop in at 103 Barnes Hall Monday through Friday, 1 - 4 p.m.