Meet the Team! Alex Dolata, Juniors Operations Manager
Alex Dolata is our Operations Manager in North America.
His diverse role involves staff recruitment for our US and Canadian centres, social programme design and preparation, and during the summer months, travelling between the seven North American centres. Having worked for the UK Juniors for two summers as Academic Manager and Centre Manager in 2013 and 2014 in Southampton and Cambridge, Alex joined the Juniors team in March 2015, initially working from the Brighton office before moving to New York in June 2015. As well as the US of A, Alex has lived, worked and studied in Italy and Portugal, although his hometown of Leeds is still his number one holiday destination recommendation! In this newsletter, Alex talks to us about his experiences working at our centres, and gives tips for summer 2016.
What do you enjoy most about working at our residential courses?
Strangely enough, seeing the students leave! Watching them go home exhausted and sad to be leaving having had a great time with us is very satisfying. I also really like the team spirit that is established from the very start of the course. The work can be tiring and the days long, but with everyone working together and having fun, it’s a great working environment to be in.
What is your favourite social programme activity?
Food Olympics, no question. International Food Olympics is a really fun, silly and messy team activity with games such as doughnut eating, apple bobbing and chopstick challenge! The students go crazy for it every time I’ve seen it run, and always end up covered in shaving foam and chocolate. My team also won the cream cracker eating challenge three years in a row, which I’m pretty proud of!
You visited most of the North American centres last summer – which was your favourite excursion you went on?
The social programmes are fantastic at all of our centres, but if I had to pick one, I would have to say Alcatraz and Pier 39 in San Francisco. The prison, and the history of the island, is fascinating, the sea lions on the rocks are amazing, and the clam chowder is delicious!
Do you have any tips for new recruits?
Whether you’re a teacher or an Activity Leader, if you have a special interest or talent, tell your manager and make it part of what you do with the students. Bringing something unique or special to the team can really make a lesson or activity even more memorable for the students. Also, even if you’ve had a tiring or stressful day, always be friendly and approachable, as for a lot of our students they will be away from home for the first time, and need to know they can also come to you with a problem, or if they’re homesick.
And any advice for returning members of staff?
Be supportive of first-year members of the team. The first week or so can be daunting in your first summer, especially for residential members of staff who work and live with the students. Take the time to offer advice and give tips to any new recruits you work with, they really will thank you for it!
Alex and St Giles Cambridge staff, summer 2014
Find out more about our Junior Summer Centres in the UK, USA and Canada.