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Working at and Managing a. Reception Desk. in an International Office. Linda Maria Alvarado Angel Yating Yang. Overview. Approx. 32 full-time staff on two floors ISSS (including academic advising), Ed Abroad, Admissions, China, GSEP Passport acceptance office

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Working at

and Managing a

Reception Desk

in an International Office

Linda Maria Alvarado

Angel Yating Yang


  • Approx. 32 full-time staff on two floors

  • ISSS (including academic advising), Ed Abroad, Admissions, China, GSEP

  • Passport acceptance office

  • Two different appointment making systems

  • More than 600 guests per month (1 guest every 15 min, not including phone calls)

Major responsibilities
Major Responsibilities

  • Triage: find out what the student or guest REALLY needs

  • Make appointments

  • Notify advisors when students arrive

  • Mail

  • Assist students with forms

  • Answer main phone line and generally answer first-level questions

  • Cash handling

Common difficulties
Common Difficulties

  • Triage: find out what the student or guest REALLY needs -- Student doesn’t know what they really need

  • Making appointments -- Becoming familiar with advisor calendars

  • Notify advisors -- Learning which advisors respond to which methods of communication

  • Mail -- names and keeping files accurate

  • Assist students with forms -- there are SO MANY forms!!

  • Answer main phone line and generally answer first-level questions -- language, cell phone connections, different advisors want calls handled differently, two phones work differently

Who can do this job
Who Can Do This Job?


    - International or study abroad students

    - Advisor recommendations

    - Personal engagement with others (especially of different backgrounds)

    - Can work more than 1 semester


    - Have another job already

    - Cannot work at least 12 hrs per week (but will not schedule for more than 25)

    - Very general answers: “I’ve always been interested in other cultures.”

Student worker profile
Student Worker Profile

  • Academic Year 2012-13 and 2013-14

    13 total staff

    - 6 study abroad, 6 international

    - countries: Brazil, Israel, Costa Rica, England, Japan, China, Mexico, Malaysia, Pakistan

  • Personal Engagement

    - international high school

    - member of NAU iClub

    - amusement park

    - lived in various places

    - tutored

    - multi-cultural background

    - worked with general public in some capacity

Initial training a k a bootcamp
Initial Traininga.k.a. “Bootcamp”

  • 1 full day before Fall semester

  • Overview plus 15-min presentation from all units

  • Hands-on practice with cash handling, photos, mail sorting

  • Special ISSS presentation

  • ISSS live scenarios

Continued training
Continued Training

  • 2 full-staff meetings per semester

  • Informational presentation

    • Ed Abroad info session

    • FERPA

    • Sunapsis

    • Passport intensive

  • Quiz

  • General announcements

  • Olympics!

    - mail sorting

    - open the mailbox

    - lock and unlock the doors/drawers

    - matching (staff and their jobs, countries)


  • Post “Staff out of the Office” list

  • Post 2 – 3 notes about timely topics

  • Helpful Hint of the Week

  • Weekly task sign-off

  • Standardization – maps

  • Bi-annual evaluations

  • Reduce clutter!!!

    • Keep only essentials visible

      • Ed Abroad Advisors & countries

      • Passport info

      • ISSS walk-in schedule

      • Well-used phone numbers

First impressions
First Impressions

  • Worked in a restaurant in China and at an amusement park in USA -- CIE was first office job

  • Friendly environment between other staff and students


  • Dress code-More Professional

  • Daily tasks-Involves more translation and detail

  • Computer and office equipment-Microsoft Lync; Outlook Calendar to make appointments for advisors; Fedex

  • Office language-More formal, different from most of previous job

  • Organization-Office supply; Front Desk Maps, Task Sign-off sheets

What built confidence
What Built Confidence?

  • Personally introduced to all full-time staff on first day

  • Everyone (other student and full-time staff) are open for questions

  • Learned examples of simple gestures and words to communicate with diverse people

  • Clear instruction of daily tasks

  • Again, friendly environment within the office!

Continued challenges
Continued Challenges

  • Always different questions from guests

  • Attention to detail (personal goal)

  • Different notification methods for advisors

  • Constant updates from each department

  • Sometimes difficult to follow specific front desk rules (Eating at the front)

Take office message
Take-“Office” Message


    - Repeat, repeat, repeat (patience)

    - Make it fun, fun, fun




Any questions
Any Questions?

Thank You!