Musings & Lessons Learned: Start of NAU, edition

From training for Move-In coverage to meeting the team for the first time — inside our #MyNAUview

Northern Arizona University
8 min readSep 13, 2023

POV: Darvin, Social Admin, first Welcome Week on campus!

Back to school in Flagstaff is interesting. There is a buzz in town that is almost tangible. This season is defined by back to school signage in stores, “Welcome back, Jacks” signs all over town, and longer morning commutes.

As a Flagstaff native, I always knew what to expect: college kids move in, Target becomes Grand Central Station, and Flagstaff returns to its college town feel.

I was excited though, I couldn’t wait to see campus come alive again after seeing empty for almost 3 months.

Like I mentioned, I sort of knew what move-in and welcome week would feel and look like. However, since starting a career with NAU, I now see the huge logistical feat that is move-in and welcome week. Landscapers were rushing to get land manicured, campus living was preparing for the storm of families, and everyone else was running around like a chicken with their heads cut off. It was all hands on deck.

Kudos to EVERYONE at NAU.

Planning for the chaos

I acknowledged that move-in and Welcome Week was going to be crazy. I read my coverage assignments at least 10 times and studied where I needed to be. That week almost felt like a test, which I needed to study and prepare for. This paid off in the end, as I had to guide Scott and Savannah around campus. They are both fairly new to the area and had very little knowledge about campus.

Anything I would have done differently

It’s funny, as a social media manager you’d think cardio wouldn’t be in your job description or qualifications. However, when you work on a campus that is 829 acres, YOU NEED TO DO CARDIO. My Apple Watch said I walked about 7 miles on move-in day and I wish I had trained the entire summer. Scott was fine because he is an avid runner, but I was struggling walking around campus and going up & down multiple campus living stairwells. The upside is I didn’t need to go to the gym that week. Also, calories don’t count on move-in week!

Advice for taking photos & communicating messages through social

If you feel like the paparazzi, you are doing a great job.

As social media managers, we are in charge of capturing moments as they happen. There is no other way to do that than to be there, follow people, and capture the moment. In our line of work, memories are SUPER ephemeral. It is literally “blink and you’ll miss it.”

So get out there, look for those fleeting moments. You may catch a mom hugging her daughter, a dad coming to terms with his child growing into adulthood, or a new friendship being made at the Welcome Week festival.

Favorite piece captured

My favorite piece of content captured is a video I took of Dr. Cruz Rivera and his wife Dr. Rima Brusi. This video really reflects their desire to welcome students and be a part of their life.

On a personal level, this video is a full circle moment for me as my first event coverage with NAU Social was the 2022 President BBQ, which was also my first time meeting Cruz Rivera.

After creating this video I reflected on the past year, how much I’ve grown, how much I have learned, and how special this part of my journey is.

POV: Scott, Social Admin, first event with students back on campus

Being my first time covering this massive event, it was a mix of anticipation, exhilaration, and, of course, a dash of the unknown.

Expectations vs. Reality

It was a first for me to see our campus transition from its summer lull to its vibrant, bustling self.

Having always enjoyed a packed schedule and staying busy, the bustling week met my expectations. Yet, nothing could have prepared me for the incredible feeling of witnessing the campus come alive.

Seeing students, along with their eager and anxious parents, bringing with them a mix of excitement, uncertainty, and joy was heartwarming.

Planning the Coverage

Success is all about planning, and for me, that meant being meticulous. From listing the day’s events to jotting scenes crucial to capture, I was armed with my trusty notes and a list of places to be at certain times. Key highlights included:

  • The hustle of students moving in.
  • The lively scenes at the Welcome Week festivals.
  • The iconic freshman tradition of the photo of the letter.
  • Everyone displaying genuine excitement.

A Learning Experience

While I was reasonably confident about my plan, the editing phase of the Welcome Week video revealed some gaps. Fortunately, the President’s BBQ offered a perfect backdrop to gather additional shots.

For anyone diving into a similar experience, my advice is to remain flexible and adaptable.

And if you ever find yourself in a whirlwind of events, candid photos, and miscellaneous secondary footage provide context and visual interest to help tell your story.

The Highlights The concert and festival, hands down, were my highlights. Experimenting with concert photography and videography was both challenging and thrilling. The adrenaline of standing in front of the stage, capturing the electric energy of just a few songs, was unmatched.

Additionally, a big shout-out to our social media student interns! Their return to campus added a layer of warmth and camaraderie to the entire experience.

Looking Ahead: Would I have done things differently? Perhaps. But every experience is a learning curve, and I’m grateful for every moment of this journey. As we forge ahead, I plan to keep refining, improving, and, most importantly, celebrating our vibrant NAU community.

POV: McKinley, returning intern, Junior

What I Expected vs. What Happened

This is my fourth semester working on the social team and my second time covering welcome week events. I already had a good gauge of what to expect from the first couple weeks of school back.

This time was different though as we have an almost all-new team, and the majority were covering welcome week and back to school for the first time!

I was super excited to meet everyone and I am super happy to say I love the team this semester. Everyone is so hard working on creative and it’s been great being in that atmosphere so far this year!

If I learned anything from previous coverage it’s to plan! When there is a super busy week like back to school, welcome week, homecoming, graduation, etc. pre-planning content is the key. This really helps make the hectic times a lot less stressful!

Lumberjack Tip: When pre-planning content make sure you have a goal in mind for the content. Just because something is “trending” doesn’t mean it will relate to your audience. Attaching a goal to the video will help you produce meaningful content!

Favorite piece captured

At the welcome week concert, Savannah and I did a fit check with the local band Ruff Stuff! I was super excited because we were just going to do a student fit check but the band was so down and excited to be included. It was really cool linking a student activity to our Flagstaff community.

POV: Savannah, sophmore transfer student, new intern

Throughout these last two weeks being on the team, I have already found myself being involved in the best group of people. Everyone on the social team is so positive and kind and has made my experience truly the best so far!

The thing that amazes me the most about being on this team is how planned all platform posts are. I never knew how much scheduling and planning actually goes on behind the scenes. To the outside world, content creation seems so easy to do, but in reality it takes so much more than that! It has been so awesome being able to see everyone on this team come together and produce impactful content for all NAU lovers.

My first event was #NAUMoveIn and was that a rollercoaster within itself. That day I met Darvin and Scott and the three of us adventured all over campus capturing content, posting on stories, taking pictures, conducting interviews, and so much more! I had so much fun with Darvin and Scott and I was able to learn SO much from them on just day 1!

Scott is amazing at taking pictures and Darvin is so good at teaching and giving confidence to his interns! I was definitely camera shy for the first hour and then I found myself jumping in and wanting to ask all the questions for interviews!

A day later was Meet the Greeks and this by far has been my favorite event covered contrary to popular opinion. This day was when I met the whole social team and just had so much fun going around and capturing content. McKinley taught me an easy way to edit and I took it from there.

Everyone on the social team just gives each other ultimate confidence within themselves and it was really comforting to know that I picked to be in the best environment possible.

Overall, if this is what the first two weeks at NAU looks like, I am so excited to see how the rest of my first semester will be!



Northern Arizona University

It’s always a great day to be a Lumberjack! Join the conversation and share your #NAU story.