Meet “Janie at Bowdoin,” the TikTok star of campus workers – The Bowdoin Orient
As students prepared to return to campus, a Bowdoin employee like no other was at the center of unexpected Internet fame. With thousands of views across 20+ videos and features across multiple local news networks, content director Janie Porche became a community favorite through her popular TikTok account: @Janie_at_bowdoin.
Porche, whose typical duties include managing the college’s news content and curating the Bowdoin homepage, first came up with the idea of creating TikTok videos when planning the students’ arrival in December.
ACCESSIBLE AND TRENDY: Content Director Janie Porche made a video to let students know about their options for sending email to their college address. These TikTok videos have now been posted on the college’s website.
“I was in a meeting that was one of the things we were talking about [was] “Oh, we have to make sure the students have a backpack with their medication in case they get isolated.” And something in my brain is like “we’ll miss that,” Porche said in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “I went to sleep at night and woke up and [thought]”Well you know what do we have?” … I made the first couple of videos without telling anyone and without going anywhere just so I could show them to my superiors and say we can do something like this. “
The TikTok platform approached Porche because of its time-limited format that allows it to communicate important information in memorable, easily digestible segments. These 59-second videos covered topics from shipping packages to campus, taking the COVID-19 test before arrival, and step-by-step instructions for the day of arrival.
“To be honest, the format itself was less important. I think TikTok is a standard for a one minute video and when you know it’s a one minute video, you can commit to watching it, ”explained Porche.
Porche shot the videos from home and edited them on her laptop. She also found that the informal medium allowed for a much faster and more responsive turnaround time.
“Some of the things we were working on changed by Wednesday [or] Thursday, ”she said. “So we needed something that we could do very quickly. And if something changes, we can post an update. “
Of course, much of the charm of any TikTok comes from Porche’s personality and humor, as well as her cat’s occasional cameos. Porche said she made a deliberate choice not to present her account as the official college channel, but rather to get a behind-the-scenes look at real employees at work.
“I wasn’t ready to be the Bowdoin College account. But I was definitely ready to be the face of someone working here trying to make this process easier, ”she said. “The idea of being able to show just a little humanity goes a long way towards realizing that we are all together.”
Although Porche is in front of the camera in these videos, she said that she received support from everyone at Bowdoin. For example, she organized Zoom calls with employees of the postal center to collect the most important data and also communicated with the office of the dean of studies.
“There were a few [videos] where I would communicate with Katie Toro-Ferrari – she became my contact with the Dean of Studies office. I would say, “Okay, I think this video is good, but I use the word” badass “. Is it all good?” She said yes.” It comes directly from my colleagues who trust me, and I really appreciated that and can’t say enough about it, ”said Porche.
The feedback on their TikTok videos has been overwhelmingly positive, and Porche received warm comments from students, faculty, parents and alumni alike. Coincidentally, the social media algorithm has occasionally drawn non-Bowdoin viewers to their videos too.
“Probably my favorite comment is one that I received on the TikTok app itself. It’s like, “I’m not going to Bowdoin, but that explains my school’s testing guidelines better than ever,” she said.
Now that the students have settled in their dormitories and left at the beginning of the semester, Porche plans to continue using the platform to advocate safe behavior on campus and highlight important topics.
“I would love if this report took until May and then it went away because I want it to fix a specific problem,” said Porche. “I want to use that voice for the things that are really important to safety, or what you need to do to stay on campus or make sure you get certain things done.”
Looking ahead, Porche said she was open to potential collaborations with Bowdoin’s own student TikTok personalities or even for President Clayton Rose.
“Rumor has it that Clayton will learn a TikTok dance if we get through this semester safely,” she said. “He’s just one of many who were really on board.”