Today we had a chat with Jane Waldner, Office and Meeting Coordinator.
What’s your role at ONCAT?
I am the Office and Meeting Coordinator at ONCAT. My responsibilities have shifted slightly since we’ve moved to a work-from-home setting, but essentially, I help keep the office organized by keeping it stocked with office supplies and coffee (when we were at the office), and keeping staff members will stocked to satisfy their technological needs (now working from home). I also schedule and organize meetings for our Executive Director, various Boards and Committees, and for our team. As my time has gone on with ONCAT, I have also expanded into aiding our Ops Coordinator with finances, our Sector Engagement Manager with her Committees, and our Communications Specialist with updating our website — I’m thrilled to be a part of so many different sections of our organization.
What did you do before joining the organization? And what experience did you have with postsecondary transfer prior to working here?
Before joining ONCAT, I worked as an Office Manager of a small social entrepreneurial company. It was a very interesting position because of how many facets of the organization there were. We published mass-market educational books, but also planned galas and events, and did a lot of work with non-profits and charities. It was a very well-rounded experience for me because it gave me the opportunity to try out a lot of different things. I didn’t have any postsecondary transfer experience prior to working with ONCAT other than switching majors back in undergrad!
How does your work advance ONCAT’s mission to improve transfer students’ experiences in Ontario? And why does ONCAT’s mission resonate with you?
As the Office and Meeting Coordinator, my role doesn’t intersect precisely with our transfer mission and mandate, but I’ve been thrilled to expand more into sector engagement where I help out in our monthly HOTA (Heads of Transfer Advisory) meetings. As I hear more and more from transfer professionals, I’ve come to understand many of the inner workings of what it means to be a transfer student and how ONCAT helps with those kinds of transitions.
Transfer students make up a relatively small amount of the Ontario postsecondary student population—approximately 6-9%. Why do you think postsecondary institutions should still focus on improving transfer student experiences?
To me, 6-9% is still a good chunk of students, and every student deserves the best opportunity to get the education they desire. Any help that can be given to these students will increase their likelihood of graduation and will also give them a much more positive educational experience as they’re able to pursue a different path.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned about postsecondary education—or student transfer—since starting your work at ONCAT?
I feel like I’m constantly learning new and interesting things about postsecondary education and transfer — especially because of our monthly Scholars’ Club meetings, where we all get together as a team and dissect a study in transfer. I really think our ONTransfer.ca tool is ingenious and cannot wait to see how it evolves in the coming year.
What’s the most challenging part of your job?
Anyone who has worked in scheduling knows that trying to find times that work for multiple people to meet is always an adventure. I say this is challenging but I also view it as an actual challenge: how quickly can I round up 20 people to answer a Doodle and book a time-slot for a meeting before they start to book up again? Of course, this aspect of my job has shifted significantly since we were working at the office — it’s definitely easier just asking everyone to join a Zoom meeting than to meet in person. It’s also incredibly challenging being away from my ONCAT team — it was such a great office environment that I can only hope one day we’ll get back to!
If you could give any advice to yourself as a student, what would you say?
First of all, that Astronomy class you’re taking to get your science pre-requisite is basically all physics — it will be your lowest grade in your academic career and that’s why we went into the arts. But I would also say, expand your horizons — don’t stay too narrow in what you think you’re interested in; you may be surprised by what you can learn if you go outside of your comfort zone.
Just for fun …
What’s your go-to restaurant or recipe?
What’s a restaurant? But seriously, as someone who dined out at least once a week pre-pandemic, I’m quite shocked at how little I miss the restaurant experience. I’m saving so much money eating at home! I’ve never been a particularly good cook (I tend not to plan and end up making food hangrily because I’ve gotten too hungry), nor a particularly adventurous one, but I do love a nice honey-mustard salmon fillet baked in my cast iron, with some roasted broccoli and rice. It’s simple, takes very little time to prepare (both requirements for my kind of cooking), and is delicious.
What’s the first place you would want to travel to in a post-pandemic world?
I’ve definitely been feeling some wanderlust lately. I’ve been very fortunate to have traveled quite a bit pre-pandemic so I’m debating between a place I’ve already been and a place I’ve always wanted to go. I think I’m feeling more of a pull to go places I’m already familiar with, so perhaps first to Iceland, then pop into Japan, and end in Hawaii (in this scenario I have unlimited funds and time to make this happen).
Cats or dogs?
Both. I don’t have any pets myself, but I am the best aunt to all of my friends’ animals and they will end up sitting on me at some point if you invite me over.
Any great books or movies you’ve enjoyed recently and want to recommend?
I just finished reading Ali Smith’s “Seasonal” quadilogy, the fourth of which, Summer, takes place during this year and is about COVID. I thought I’d find reading something so topical difficult but found it actually quite moving. I’m a big movie watcher (grad of Film Studies, York 2012!), so my taste varies a lot but a great movie I’ve recently watched was The Last Black Man in San Francisco — it was just gorgeous and incredibly touching. And I know this wasn’t asked, but I will give a TV recommendation as well — I’ve just recently watched all of the British series Taskmaster. It’s all on YouTube and you will cry with laughter.