Student Affairs Podcast: Thursday Night Live Events

You can now listen to the latest episode of “Conversations with Student Affairs,” the podcast managed by the Student Affairs team at Penn State World Campus in collaboration with our many colleagues and partners across the University’s Student Affairs teams.

Title: Thursday Night Live

Participating guests: Sydney Klainberg, graduate assistant at Penn State World Campus Student Affairs

Summary: Looking to get involved in an activity, but can’t commit full-time to a student organization — or just need a study break in your week? Thursday Night Live is a great opportunity to connect with other Penn State World Campus students.

Three interesting or helpful takeaways from this episode:

Involvement can take many forms. You can get involved and engage with your World Campus peers (and the Penn State community) in whatever way works for you. There are many different types of opportunities, from starting a club to attending online social events.

Thursday Night Live is a great way to connect with peers and learn new things. This series of ongoing events will involve a variety of activities, workshops, and development opportunities.

We encourage students to take initiative in organizing or helping to plan these events. “I want it to be student-led, as much as possible,” Sydney says. “I want to provide students with opportunities to get to plan events, post events, take different opportunities to develop their own leadership and program planning skills. Sometimes, we co-host with a student organization. And it’s a great way for them to get their name out there.”

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Podcast Transcript: Thursday Night Live


JEN TOOF: Hello, welcome to Conversations with Student Affairs. I’m your host, Jen Toof. Our guest today is Sydney Klainberg We will be connecting with Sydney to learn more about the Thursday Night Live event series, as well as other events that World Campus has going on. Sydney, will you tell our listeners a little bit about yourself? And you can say as much or as little as you’d like.

SYDNEY KLAINBERG: Thanks, Jen, and thanks for having me here. So I am currently a graduate assistant for Student Affairs and World Campus. And my primary job is working with student engagement. Now that can mean a lot of things. A lot of what I do tends to be working with student clubs and organizations, helping them with administrative work, planning and hosting events, things like that. But also a huge thing that I also like to do is have events that are open to students who may or may not be the primary leaders of World Campus student organizations. Because there are so many students at World Campus, who may or may not be involved in events, who have busy schedules, a lot of things going on in your life, or may not feel connected to specific organizations.

So I want you all to know that I am here to support you no matter what your role is and try to create as many opportunities as possible to help students connect to World Campus

JEN TOOF: Great. Thank you, Sydney. And you had mentioned about not having a lot of time and being able to have Thursday Night Live as an opportunity for students to connect who might not be fully involved in clubs and organizations. So it’s a great lead in to our if you could segment, that we do in each of our podcasts. So Sydney, if you could have an extra hour in your day, how would you use it?

SYDNEY KLAINBERG: I love this question. I thought a lot about it. I would find more time to exercise, to be honest. I spend a lot of time doing schoolwork, catching up with friends, that kind of thing. I’m trying to incorporate way more regular fitness routine into my schedule. And part of it is I don’t always feel like I have time to go to the gym, or whatever that is. So that’s what I would do at this moment.

JEN TOOF: Yes. I wonder if there’s ever an opportunity for us to have some form of activity or engagement session where students are able to feel that accountability. Here’s my hour in my day. Or here’s my one or two hours in my week. And let’s connect and talk about maybe, personal wellness goals. And what are we doing. Because I always find that when I’m thinking about fitness, I love to sit on an exercise bike and watch a movie.

I don’t need to sit on the couch and watch my movie. But I want to move my legs, as well, because if not I find myself walking around cleaning the house and moving. And so I’ve thought a little bit more creatively, like how can I take my moment of entertainment and fitness, to feel like I don’t have to do them separately.

SYDNEY KLAINBERG: Oh yeah, I do. I mean it’s not fitness, but when I do my dishes, I am so watching Netflix while I do them. So I do it all the time. Dishes is not my favorite task. But I also recognize it needs to be done, and I don’t have a dishwasher. And so through doing all of the dishes that I use by hand, I definitely like to use that as my Netflix time as well.

So encouraging myself to find ways to work out and make it a fun and enjoyable experience. I totally empathize with that.

JEN TOOF: Awesome. Awesome. So our first kind of major segment that we have in our episode is our student affairs snapshot. And Sydney, I really thought about having you speak to the segment. And can you share with us, reflecting back on your own student experience, how did getting involved and attending activities impact that student experience for you?

SYDNEY KLAINBERG: Yeah, so when I was an undergrad, and as a strong caveat, I did not go to Penn State World’s Campus. I went to an in-person campus in upstate New York. It was really important to me to find groups of people who I could connect with, make time outside of my classes in order to find things that I enjoyed. And part of it was when I first started college, I knew there was one or two people who I came in knowing, who they were from a town next to mine, and didn’t know anybody from my own town who was there. And it was kind of just this scary experience, moving somewhere and starting this experience.

And I know, especially if you are an online student or primarily an online student, you don’t — you may or may not have that kind of issue that I had. But it’s always helpful to be able to know that there is a community out there to connect with and support you. Because school is hard and life is hard. And it’s always, I think, a valuable use of my time to create connections and learn new skills and that kind of thing. So I really enjoyed getting to know myself, developing my own leadership skills, communication skills, relationships by attending activities as an undergraduate student. And even still today, as a graduate student, I still go to things and find it a valuable use of my time.

JEN TOOF: Yeah, I really appreciate that. I did my undergrad experience in person, but my graduate experience was online. And I think, for me, I looked at group work very differently, especially in an online experience. Because involvement might be how we are defining it. So I might not be connecting with large populations in my online experience, but I found value in the smaller group projects of connecting in that community.

So the larger ones outside of the academic experience, with what student affairs is offering for events and engagement, those can certainly expand even more opportunity for the students. So I want our listeners to know that involvement can take form — can take place in many different forms, whether it’s online or in-person. Because even in person, I didn’t like the large group events. I was — I liked more one on one, or small group events, very similar to my academic experience.

So I encourage our listeners to identify what’s important for you, for involvement, and what does that look like.

SYDNEY KLAINBERG: I just, I guess tag me off of that, I can name a couple of times in which there was somebody in one of my classes you just seemed like a cool person. I’d hear about the things that they were saying in class. And, oh you seem like you’re awesome. And I’ve developed, I just approached them, and was like, hey, do you want to get a cup of coffee some time. Or maybe it’s, do you want to have a Zoom meet up some time and kind of get to know each other better.

And I’ve made some really great friends that way. So even if it’s just like, oh they’re just my classmate. They can be more and a lot of people are really open to hearing, OK I want to know more about what you do and what you’re interested in. Because you just seem like a cool person. I really encourage that. little opportunities to connect.

JEN TOOF: Most definitely. So our next segment, Sydney, is our on the corner segment. So we like to discuss intersecting topics here. So let’s dig into Thursday Night Live. So I mentioned it at the beginning of our episode. What exactly is Thursday Night Live? And I feel like I should have some music in here, as I’m saying this.

SYDNEY KLAINBERG: Yeah, I would say Thursday Night Live is a series of usually structured events that happens on Thursdays, not every single Thursday. But right now it’s kind of every other Thursday, during the spring 2022 semester. Hopefully it’s something that we will continue with. And it can be a variety of activities. It can be social events. It can be game nights. It can be leadership development opportunities, really whatever would be beneficial for students.

And I usually host them, sometimes my supervisor Julie Fitzgerald hosts them. And we’ve had some pretty cool activities. Bingo nights, trivia nights, fundraisers, we just had a fundraiser for THON recently. Anything that can help students feel like they are able to take a study break connect and get to know new people. That’s kind of the nutshell of what Thursday Night Live is. And I’m hoping to expand that even further in the future.

JEN TOOF: So a student doesn’t have to commit to coming every Thursday night. It ends up being, I think you mentioned, every other Thursday or a couple of Thursdays a month. So they don’t have to commit every Thursday. Do they have to stay for the whole time? Or is it a drop in? Do they have to fully participate? Or can they observe if they’re not sure if they want to get involved?

SYDNEY KLAINBERG: Yeah, I mean it really depends on the event. There are some times, for example, some events if it’s a progressive game night. We did, one example is Pictionary, a couple of weeks ago. And I divided those who were there up into teams. And if you were to come in the middle you can, of course, join the team. Sometimes it’s a little bit, if there’s an order of people who are going. You’ve already started the process, it may be harder to join.

But absolutely, drop in. Leave when you have to. Come say hi. Just sort of see who’s available. And it really is meant to be flexible for the needs and availability of everyone there. And again, it’s not like all you have to come every single time that we have Thursday Night Live. If you have an hour free from — sorry it’s an hour and a half. I’m sorry, free from 7:30 to 9 on whatever the Thursday event is and you have availability. Show up. We will welcome you and be happy that you’re there.

JEN TOOF: Awesome. And that’s Eastern Standard Time, right? 7:30 to 9:00 Eastern Standard Time?

SYDNEY KLAINBERG: Yes, thank you for catching that. I usually do that in email, but sometimes forget to say it out loud.

JEN TOOF: Me too. Me too. So this really does sound like that perfect opportunity, if maybe you’ve got 20 minutes. And you and you need that break. Because I know you and I before, have talked about it’s an opportunity. If you’ve got a full day and you need to disconnect from what you’re doing, but still feel like you need a reset. Jumping in and playing a game could be a creative reset for somebody, or having a moment to talk to somebody else that maybe breaks the rhythm. That maybe, you feel like it’s one of those things where usually you can get up and stand up out of your chair.

But it’s a mind break of like, OK I’m going to not focus on this activity on my computer. I’m going to go and play one game of bingo, and take my break, and then go back to my project of what I’m working on. So I think our students have many competing priorities. So what advice would you give our students with the many different priorities of coming in, popping into Thursday Night Live?

SYDNEY KLAINBERG: Yeah, so the first one I will say is please register in advance, as possible. Because I believe it should be even if you don’t register in advance, you should still be able to come in. But it’s going to ask you to register before you do. And the reason for that is just to help get student affairs a good idea of who is coming, who is planning on coming. Sometimes we adjust events accordingly, based on who — the number of participants we expect to be there.

But also bring your family, bring your friends. I mean we usually try to do pretty family friendly activities. Sometimes students will be like, hey my kid is here. They want to help participate in this trivia. Is that something they can do? 100%, because we’re not anything that you have to be a Penn State student in order to enjoy. And really, if there is 20 minutes, I would say if you think you can come, again, just register in advance if possible. But if not just pop on in.

JEN TOOF: Great. And are these all held on Zoom? Or are they on different platforms?

SPEAKER: They’re on Zoom. But sometimes we use different platforms too. Sometimes we’ll do trivia in Kahoot. Sometimes, we’ll do trivia on PowerPoint, or whatever it is. And so we may use other devices, or other browsers, but it’s always on Zoom.

JEN TOOF: OK, awesome. Thank you for sharing that. So toolbox for success. This is our last major segment that we have in our episode. Now I know Thursday Night Live is new. And this was really about looking for new exciting drop in activities, or activities that didn’t take a full commitment to a club, an organization, or a series of events. How do you see Thursday Night Live growing in the future?

SYDNEY KLAINBERG: Yeah, so it is a great question. I have a couple of goals for it. I want to have them more frequently. Maybe every single week if we can. Part of that is I want to get a team on board. So if I can get students, and Jen we’ve actually talked about this in the past —

JEN TOOF: Yeah we have

SYDNEY KLAINBERG: So I know that — I love that you know where I’m going with this. I want it to be student led, as much as possible. I want to provide students with opportunities to get to plan events, post events, take different opportunities to develop their own leadership and program planning skills. For, sometimes, we co-host with an organization, like a student organization perhaps. And it’s a great way for them to get their name out there.

But as happy as I am hosting events. I think it’s a great deal of fun. I think it’s an amazing potential opportunity for students to get involved, who may not necessarily know where their places is as well. So even if you’re not a member of a club or an organization, and you’re like, hey I want to — this is an event that I would like to see at World Campus. And it’s that I can help put together. Then I want students to reach out to me and say, hey, this is something I’d like to see. And hopefully I’ll be like, that’s great. Let’s put it together.

And see what we can do with it. And make it, I guess, more regular, more student led, and then just higher attendance overall. Just to get more people to know about it, know that it’s a resource for you.

JEN TOOF: Yeah, that’s awesome. And I think the more students who provide input to you gives the more diverse opportunities for students, as far as activities. And I think, we can’t know what the students want unless we also hear from the students as well. So Sydney, where should students contact you, if they’re listening right now. And they’re like, oh I’ve got an idea. And I want to let Sydney know. Or maybe, hey Sydney, maybe I just want to find out more about Thursday Night Live. How should they contact you?

SYDNEY KLAINBERG: Sure, the best way — actually there’s two ways that you can contact me. A lot of people are more comfortable using email. And so you can contact me using the student affairs email. And I’m currently pulling up just to make sure that I’m relaying the right information of what it is. Also Jen, if you happen to know exactly what the email is, if there is a period or whatever it is in the middle. You can — feel free —

JEN TOOF: Are you talking about student affairs at That’s —

SYDNEY KLAINBERG: Yep, I think that’s it. I just wanted to make sure that I have that. So we have this kind of general student affairs email, where if you reach out to it the right person on the student affairs team, we are small but we are mighty, will get to it. So I would put in the subject line something like, Thursday Night Live idea, or opportunity to get involved, or something like that, it’ll probably head my way. And I check the box pretty frequently. So I will reach out to you that way.

The other way that you could reach out to me is Microsoft Teams, if you’re on that platform. I know the university is really into us using that as a communication device. And I love getting messages from students on that all the time. So you can find me my name is Sydney Klainberg on that. And I always like to hear from students.

JEN TOOF: Sydney, we will put your spelling of your first name and last name in the description for our episode. So that they know, for looking you up on Teams.

Great. So my last question here, in this segment, we just explain to students about involvement. How they can make recommendations for future activities. From your perspective, how can getting involved make a student feel more connected?

SYDNEY KLAINBERG: To the World’s Campus community, I think it provides an opportunity to get to know people who you might not know. We are in such — we are in an interesting position because we have students from all over the world, who may not necessarily be in the same place at the same time, who have different things in their lives going on, maybe in different places in their lives. And that’s kind of a thing that I love about us. I see it as unique, and I think that there’s lots of opportunities to connect with people, if we know how to do that.

So I don’t want anybody to feel like, oh this big heavy school thing that I’m doing. I have to go through it alone. And a large part of what helps people feel successful is when they have a great support system. I also think it can be an opportunity to learn new skills, to find new passions, and it also — it can help you in and out of the classroom. If you’re looking to pursue any kind of career that may involve some specific skills that you may learn at an event, or you maybe you attend a job fair and you learn about opportunities to connect there.

I think just seeing what’s out there and making the best use of the opportunities available to you is a great way to feel more connected and help pursue your education in and outside of the classroom.

JEN TOOF: Mm-hmm. Yeah, that’s really great. And I just go back to what we were talking about, our in-person experiences. And students at World Campus should really feel like you don’t need to go in person to feel that same experience. And that we’re able to offer that same way of connection, but in a virtual or remote setting. Or you might be connecting with classmates that could live in your same town. You maybe could be going in person to meet up with coffee with somebody that you met at Thursday Night Live, who just happens to be in the same town or city as you. So I think the possibilities of connection is pretty good and pretty open.

OK, so our final thought for today. Sydney, we’ve already shared how students should contact you. What is the final thought you’d like to leave our listeners with today?

SYDNEY KLAINBERG: Know that there is a place here for you. I always say this that, even though it seems like this big wide world out there, there are places for people to feel connected. Learn, grow, get involved, and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Because you never know. Sometimes you’ll meet a really great individual or find an amazing experience that you never thought that you would be interested in. And just be open. Say yes, when you can. And know that it could be a really great experience for you. I hope it is. I hope that everyone who is listening either already has a place where you feel connected or is able to find one here.

JEN TOOF: Great. Thank you so much, Sydney.