By: Katie Schaller, Alpha Chi-UCLA, Senior Leadership Consultant
It is the fall of your final year in college and there are lots of emotions running through your head – did I make the most of my college experience, how many more classes do I need to graduate, what if I fail and don’t get my diploma – what am I going to be doing in May/June (STOP ASKING ME)??!?!
Hopefully most of you are at least considering applying to be a Leadership Consultant – great, that’s step one! If you honestly haven’t, awesome, consider this your indoctrination.
I am here to dispel any myths about “putting your life on hold” in order to spend a year in the job of everyone’s dreams. To those of you with this reservation, I will candidly say that I have been in your shoes. I wanted desperately the opportunity to serve our sorority, travel, meet sisters across the country, and be a part of a life-enriching experience. But with a job offer from my internship on the table in the city of my dreams and two parents focused on career success; the decision wasn’t easy. I made pro-con list after pro-con list, solicited advice from everyone in my contact list, flipped a coin, asked Siri, and anything else I could think of to be inspired.
Ultimately, it was a gut instinct that pushed me over the edge telling me that being a Leadership Consultant was what I needed to do. The deciding factor was this: 10 years from now, I would be where I was meant to be, doing what I wanted to be doing, and I would look back wishing I had the experience.
Now, understanding this job a year and a half later, I feel like I can sell its benefits to anyone, on a train, on a plane, in an interview, while buying a pair of shoes. Sure, you will be leading chants with the best of them, curling hair at 6:30 in the morning, demonstrating the perfect way to accessorize a lettered shirt, and more, but here are a few of many key skills you will hone that will set you apart from other entry level candidates and impress any future employer:
Building relationships. Traveling independently to dozens of college campuses across the country translates into constantly meeting new collegiate women, university administrators and alumnae. (READ: Networking!) You generally only have about 5-7 days to work with these key players to assess the current organizational situation of the local chapter and to articulate a vision for future operating models.
With a limited amount of time to gather information and make a difference, the ability to gain trust and recruit buy-in to your ideas is critical. This role requires professional communication and a strong level of analysis that will make you an asset to any entry-level job role.
Excellent communication skills. In addition to building key partnerships, Leadership Consultants are responsible for staying contact with multiple levels of parties – Executive Office Staff, International Officers, Fraternity/Sorority Advisors, and collegians. Staying on top of many channels requires, proactivity, attention to detail, a level of independence yet consistent and thorough communication with supervisor and other team members. This is a new level of responsibility that most of us are not familiar or have experience with during college but is something every employer will look for.
Other resume items. Bullet lists are worth a thousand words. Here are some points I’ve highlighted on my resume:
- Traveled independently to 20 universities nationwide to perform objective analyses of chapter operations and articulate vision for future operation models
- Developed and implemented direct / indirect marketing, communication, and recruitment plans
- Planned and executed workshops focusing on leadership development, marketing, programming, team building, and risk management
- Managed regional and national conferences for 500-1,000+ attendees
How to be an adult. This one sounds strange, but it’s true. College is some kind of young adult utopia where your friends are around 24/7, you have freedom and a decent amount of time for schoolwork and hobbies and activities, everything you could ever possibly want is within a five mile radius, and Taco Bell is open 24 hours.
Life on the other side is a little different, friends move away for jobs or graduate school, busy work schedules make finding time for socializing and recreation more difficult, and microwaving Trader Joe’s meals is no longer a sustainable strategy. Don’t get me wrong, it’s all exciting and exhilarating, and you will want to take advantage of it all.
Living and working independently as an LC for a year forces you to learn who you are and what you value. Time is a precious gift, and you will discover what is most important to you – which could be entirely different than what you currently think – and how and with whom you want to spend your time. You will also learn how to build the routines and disciplines into your life that are necessary for success.
More than anything, this job gives you the confidence that you are capable of anything you put your mind to and that there truly is no situation you won’t know how to handle. The self-confidence and enthusiasm for life you cultivate will radiate out of your body in every activity you do and interaction you have and will be impossible for anyone to ignore.
I will leave you with this thought:
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky
Don’t miss this opportunity of a lifetime because you didn’t even apply.