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Working at the OTSU: A CSR’s perspective

December 6, 2023

Working at the Ontario Tech Student Union (OTSU) as a customer service representative (CSR) has been a deeply rewarding experience—one that has helped me discover a hidden passion of mine, become a more empathetic leader, and make a real difference in the lives of my fellow Ridgebacks. 

Here’s what I’ve learned along the way and why I think you’d love it too!

What it’s like at the front desk

CSRs are the front-line contact for students looking to discover what services the OTSU offers and are information depots for a lot of random questions! We have deep knowledge of the student union’s operations and services; we deal with the Health and Dental Plan, OTSU Esports, Clubs and Societies, and tax appointments. We need to know a little bit about everything that is happening behind the scenes, but it’s rewarding getting to know students and helping them out. 

How we make an impact

Providing assurance

New and returning students can rest assured that they have someone to connect with on their level. Adjusting to, and excelling in, academics can be daunting and they may not know all the tools at their disposal. We can guide them to the available services and show them how to access them.

Reducing uncertainty

Many students come to the student union office with “non-OTSU” struggles. Many seemed confused and overwhelmed and were just looking for someone to validate what they were going through. But after talking to us, their attitudes change, and they usually leave in a better place than when they came in.

Being present

Meeting students in person builds a connection and a sense of familiarity. I believe that having a real person to talk to and inquire from is one of the most effective ways of obtaining information.

Expanding knowledge

Students who come in looking for one thing often leave learning more than they bargained for.  For example, international students looking for directions or to know about an event may leave learning that they have to file their taxes in the spring and that the OTSU can help them!

What I’ve learned (aka why you’d love working here!)

Working at the OTSU has been an incredible learning experience for me, one that has helped me find a passion, gain confidence, and embrace continuous learning, resourcefulness, and kindness.

We are all uncertain at times, learning as we go, but as we do, we discover something that interests us. By talking to students and learning about their problems, I’ve developed an interest in accessibility rights and now hope to find work that advocates for people.

I’ve also learned the value and importance of empathy to establish immediate trust with the person you’re talking to. By doing this, I’ve learned to be easier on myself and others and effectively been able to respond to problems more appropriately. 

Lastly, I’ve learned that anything comes with limitations and boundaries. As much as I care and want to help, sometimes there are aspects that we cannot control. It’s in these instances that I’ve learned to tap into my creative side to try and offer solutions based on the resources available. 

To anyone considering working with the OTSU (or as a CSR in general), know that this role is a wonderful experience that lets you keep improving if you are open to discovering opportunities to reach your full potential. Receiving sincere compliments from students is what makes this job fulfilling. Moments like those are truly precious!

By Leila Martinez