Adrienne Dalla Longa (affectionately known as ADL) was a student in Quest’s inaugural class in 2007. Students now may know her as the Manager of Student Engagement and Leadership on the Student Affairs Team, as well as a Village Advisor. At the October Community Update, exactly 10 years and one month after the first ever community update, Adrienne announced that she is moving on from Quest. The Mark interviewed her to learn more about the details of this departure.
Doughty: Why are you leaving?
ADL: I think there comes a time in everyone’s life when they decide that new a opportunity is necessary for them to continue to grow and progress. I’ve been an employee of Quest for just over four years, but a member of the community for over ten. I came in 2007, as an inaugural class member, and almost immediately was employed by Student Affairs to work under Melanie [Koenderman] as her first student employee. I was the first and only student employee to work here the first summer that Quest was open. I helped across the university, in facilities and everything else. So I’ve been involved a lot in the start up end of Quest.
After completing my masters degree, I came back to Quest as a staff member to contribute in students affairs and live on campus. I saw those roles as a really great continuation of something that I had started to do at the beginning at of my time at Quest, but was able to do more wholly once I was no longer a student. I felt that Quest had given me so much, so returning as an employee felt like a comfortable and logical place to start my career as a young adult. When I think about why I am leaving, it’s because I’ve come to place where I have gained a lot of skills and experience and offered everything that I can.
I encourage students all the time in Adventure Pursuits to get outside of their comfort zone, because I think the reality is that no matter how much you try to be innovative and creative in a role, eventually things become familiar. So that’s why I’m leaving, to get outside my comfort zone.
Doughty: What is your new job?
ADL: I’ve been hired as the director of volunteer engagement by The Arthritis Society. They have multiple divisions across Canada, but I’m actually working for the national organization doing Volunteer Engagement. Volunteer Engagement is a relatively new enterprise for them, they’ve done it regionally in each of the divisions, but they haven’t looked at it nationally. So they are looking at how to roll out a national strategy.
I loved being involved in Quest initially, because it was a startup and I’m also getting to explore that through The Arthritis Society because this is a very new area for them. I’m getting to be innovative and creative and a bit of a jack-of-all-trades in this role as well.
Doughty: So, you already started with them. When are you leaving Quest?
ADL: Getting this position was quite fortuitous. I had already done a lot of work with The Arthritis Society because I have arthritis. I’ve done a lot of engagement and outreach and awareness campaigns with them, so it was natural for them to approach me about this job. The national office is located in Toronto, but when I talked to the Arthritis Society about this position, I expressed that I was interested and appreciated being approached, but that I was not willing to move out of BC. So I’ll be working from the Vancouver office two days a week, as of right now. And then I’ll be working from home three days a week.
Doughty: So you’re staying on as a Village Advisor in the meantime. How long-term is this plan?
ADL: For me this was the perfect blend. It means that I can move on in my career, but don’t have to leave Quest entirely. As a lot of Quest students who have graduated know, living and working, or studying, in one place means that that place becomes a lot of things for you. For me, and I think the other five village advisors, the way we engage with Quest is different than the way other staff members engage with Quest. This is both my home and (was) my place of employment. And it’s also the institution where I went to school, so the idea of leaving that entirely was one of the biggest barriers for me when I considered leaving Quest to pursue new opportunities and to continue to grow professionally.
There has been an ongoing conversation of looking at the Village Advisor roles and Student Affairs roles as two fundamentally different things, which lots of universities do. They have a lot of overlap because there is overlap in skills required for those two areas, but they can be separate roles. So when this opportunity came up, it was the perfect fit for me to stay on as a Village Advisor, but not a Student Affairs employee in order to pilot how the separation of Student Affairs and Village Advisor roles works for our community.
So in terms of how long I’ll be staying on as a Village Advisor I can’t give you a concrete date on that, it depends how this pilot project works.
Doughty: Ok, so you are still a Village Advisor but you are not a Student Affairs employee, can you explain what the separation of those roles will look like? What will your involvement in Quest be going forward?
ADL: I have gone through the process of transitioning out of my role as Manager of Student Engagement and Leadership. Quest is still in the process of finding someone to fill that role, or figuring out where it will fall. But in terms of my contribution with student programming, student event support, co curricular event support, etc I am happy to assist students who have questions, especially because there is a lot of institutional knowledge around things like Adventure Pursuits and big events like Dancing Bear. But those will hopefully soon be taken over by whomever is hired to do that job. My main role now is as a Village Advisor, and the student engagement and support in that comes with that role. But in terms of my involvement with Quest, I will always be an alumni, and involved in this institution in that way, even when I am no longer a staff member.
Doughty: How long has this departure been in the works, how long has the transition process been?
ADL: I wasn’t searching out this opportunity, but it came up and was a really good fit. I put a lot of thought into it, but it wasn’t as though I was hunting for another job for a long time. The transition period that I gave Quest was the amount of time that my contract dictates, but also I did negotiate so that I would leave after my major portfolio elements, (which are also my personal favourite time of year) which are Summit, Orientation, Adventure Pursuits and all the things that come with the start of the new school year. So that at least gives Quest a full year to be able to have someone fill that position and be trained and become comfortable before that big time of year comes around again. It was an intentional decision in terms of timing, and I didn’t want to leave Quest high and dry, and I wanted to make sure that I had a good transition plan, so that whoever comes into this role will be able to start from a good place and grow it from there.
Doughty: Can you speak at all on how the rest of the Student Affairs team/ Quest will respond or adapt to your departure?
ADL: The Student Affairs team is a really cohesive and high functioning team, and emotionally the most challenging component of leaving was leaving this team. I’m so thankful for the incredible people that I work with. The other thing about the Student Affairs team is that they are really resilient and I am confident that they will hire someone who is highly competent, and I think that will bring in a new wave of energy that will be really good for the team.
Doughty: What parting words of wisdom can you offer current Quest students?
- Don’t be averse to change, but also don’t let go of things that are fundamental pillars to Quest. Hold the powers at be at Quest accountable.
- Find balance between spaces that are comfortable and support you, and spaces that make you uncomfortable and force you to grow.
- Be kind.
- Respect quiet hours. That will make you really cool.
- Be bold in your desire to do weird stuff, within the confines of the law and risk management.