Alpha Chi Omega - Starting Conversations

The official blog of Alpha Chi Omega

Browsing category: Collegians, The Consultant Chronicles
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Inside the Business of Empowering Women By Callie Smith, Beta Nu chapter, University of Utah

I landed in Tucson, AZ, picked up my three suitcases, and began to slowly navigate my way to the curb.  I was met by a friendly chapter advisor and was on my way to officially begin my first visit as a chapter consultant. I was both nervous and excited to start this new chapter in my life.  I arrived at the house and was immediately welcomed by a hug from the chapter president.  I knew this was the first of many moments that would make me fall in love with this job over and over again the next month and year to come.

However, the real work did not begin until I walked in, introduced myself and was immediately met by a recruitment question.  There is no way to accurately describe the feeling you get when a group of 200 women turns around to look at you and expects you to know the answer to their question five minutes into the job.  Here was to hoping the six weeks of training paid off!  And you know what? They did.

I may not always have an immediate answer to the questions that are asked of me, but through training and having the opportunity to work alongside other chapter consultants as well as headquarters staff, I have gained the critical thinking skills and confidence needed to work through any problem that arises.  In just this short month I have sat down with executive board officers and members at large to find solutions and implement new ideas that work for their chapters.

Sometimes people tease that I never truly graduated from college, and while I spend most of my time on college campuses, I have yet to think of a better job.  Throughout my collegiate experience, I had the opportunity to work with many chapter consultants, each contributing in her own way to my growth as an individual and the success of our chapter.  When I applied for this job, I was looking to give back to an organization that had given me so much.  However, as much as I hope I am making an impact on the sisters I interact with, they are also making an impact on me.  It is the feeling you get when sisters you just met ask you to clear your schedule to take you to their favorite lunch spot on campus.  It is the feeling you get when even after staying up until 3 a.m. to prepare for recruitment, chapter members still show up the next morning with the same amount of enthusiasm they had the day before.  It is the feeling you get when you see a chapter’s year of hard work come to fruition as they welcome home a new member class to join not only their chapter, but our sisterhood nationwide.

I am in the business of empowering women, and I would not have it any other way. So, here is to a year of late nights, the never-ending struggle of looking for parking on a college campus, new cities, new friendships, a whole lot of laughs, personal growth and building the ever-growing network of real, strong women across the country.

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A Sisterhood Within the Sisterhood

Taylor CostaBy Taylor Costa
Kappa Lambda chapter, University of San Diego

During recruitment, I always heard women say that they found their best friends and bridesmaids in their chapter, and even though that may be true, it was hard for me to believe at 18. I never thought I would be the one to call someone “sister” (aside from my younger biological sister), and to be honest I didn’t full buy into the idea of a “sisterhood.” Little did I know that my freshman year I would find a chapter of 160 women that made me feel at home. They made me feel comfortable and gave me a place to be my truest self.  That idea of sisterhood became real. Those women were right; I would have never met my best friends and bridesmaids had I not joined Alpha Chi Omega five years ago.

The women I ran to on bid day quickly became my people. We did everything together, from weekends filled with acai bowls at the beach to weeknights full of studying in the lounge until 2 a.m. We were there to celebrate each other when we got into grad school or got our first job offers. We were also there when we needed to cry and remember the life of our sister who lost her battle with cancer. The women of Kappa Lambda were my home and made me believe in the sisterhood I didn’t know I needed. These sisters encouraged me to apply to be a chapter consultant because of the qualities they saw in me that I had yet to find in myself.  I cannot begin to thank each and every woman I became friends with during my time in the Kappa Lambda chapter for helping me grow to be the woman I am today.

Lucky for me, the sisterhood I found in Alpha Chi Omega didn’t end with graduation. Last year I became a consultant and met 17 inspiring, motivating and confident women. The sisterhood in Alpha Chi Omega grew by 11 more intelligent, well-rounded and optimistic women this year as I began my second year on the consultant team. These 28 women have changed my life for the better and constantly push me to be the best version of myself. I have spent countless hours FaceTiming, texting and planning trips with these women that I call my sisters and best friends. Some of these I have known for a year and others for less than four months, but I know that the relationships I have with them will last a lifetime.

In a chapter of 160 members, I felt an incredible bond and connection to the women I surrounded myself with. The sisterhood I felt for those four years is something I will always be incredibly thankful for. Being a consultant has given me a sisterhood within the sisterhood. I have met 28 women that inspire me daily, motivate me to do better, give me confidence, make me laugh and help me feel at home (even when we are miles apart).

As weird and hard as it may be to believe, trust those women who tell you that they have found a genuine sisterhood because it’s real. Going through recruitment, it seems too good to be true. I couldn’t imagine myself in the sisterhood the women I had just met were telling me about; now I couldn’t picture my life without it. Over 220,000 women have had the opportunity to feel the loving sisterhood that can be found in Alpha Chi Omega, and I am so lucky to be one of them. I will forever be grateful for the best friends, future bridesmaids and sisters I have found through Alpha Chi Omega.

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The First 25

Taylor TolleyBy: Taylor Tolley
Alpha Omicron, The Ohio State University

After six weeks of summer training, what I am experiencing is completely new, but yet everything I expected. Starting with two planes, two rental cars, two new cities and three suitcases stuffed to the brim, my life as a traveling consultant has officially begun. Even though I cannot believe time has flown so fast, I’ve already marked 25 amazing days on the road.

I originally strived to be a chapter consultant because I wanted to take that next step with our national organization. I felt as if I had given everything I could to my chapter of initiation and wanted to make an impact on sorority women around the world that shared the same values, beliefs and rituals that belonged to Alpha Chi Omega.

What I didn’t know was that in my first 25 days, those same women I wanted to influence would change my life for the better. From incredible recruitment planning and meetings to heart-to-heart conversations, the leadership and power of each woman opened my eyes to experiences outside of my own and have shown me what it is like to be a true sister of Alpha Chi Omega.

As you would probably assume, the 25 days were not all quite so profound. It is a funny thing when you have only been to two places, but realize that you’ll be eating Chipotle, Blaze and Jimmy John’s in a rotation for months to come. Another realization came from my first of what I am sure will be many embarrassing stories. Can you picture a twenty-two-year-old woman, fresh out of college, attempting to push three floral-print suitcases at the same time over airport curbs and cracked sidewalks? How about those same suitcases being unpacked and re-packed at 7 a.m. with grumpy travelers watching because one of them was three pounds over the limit and there was no way I was going to pay that $100 fee? Needless to say, this position has been the perfect way to throw me into the real-world – head first.

Being a chapter consultant has allowed my first “big girl job” to be one I am passionate about and one I look forward to doing each day. Diving head first into the real-world was way better than I could have ever expected. With each experience being a little bit different than the last, it is safe to say I cannot wait for my next 25.

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Another year with Alpha Chi Omega

Mallory ChurchBy Mallory Church
Delta Zeta, Central Michigan University

Last year when I got my job offer to be an Alpha Chi Omega chapter consultant I was beyond proud of myself and excited for my new adventure. However, when I shared my post-graduation plans, a common response I received sounded something like, “Oh you can’t let go? So, you’re basically going to be in Alpha Chi for an extra year?” Of course, I knew my year as a chapter consultant would be much different than my undergraduate experience, but what I didn’t expect was how much I would grow during my “extra year.”

In June when I started this journey, I had no idea what laid ahead; I was a little nervous but I was eager to get started. Now, I have only one month left in my “extra year” and my heart is so heavy knowing that this experience is wrapping up. My year as an Alpha Chi Omega chapter consultant has been one of the most incredible journeys of my life. In college, Alpha Chi Omega gave me opportunities to learn what it meant to be a real, strong woman. As a consultant, I have been given experiences to test that. Being a consultant has helped me become even stronger, more confident and proud to be an Alpha Chi Omega. This year has brought me even closer to the bond we share as Alpha Chi’s and I am so thankful for this experience. I not only gained 17 incredible consultant sisters but also the encouragement of the entire headquarters staff, the support of our incredible volunteer team and the friendship of many collegiate members. These real, strong women have not only supported me through the challenges I faced this year but they have celebrated my wins with me too. The women I have worked with on the road will always hold a very special place in my heart; I will forever cherish the laughs and memories we have shared.

There’s a very cheesy Dr. Suess quote I love, “don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” If you know me you know tears come easy, but I intend to spend my last month making the most of every moment so when it is all said and done, I have nothing but unforgettable memories (and happy tears). Senior members are also wrapping up their last year with Alpha Chi Omega. As you wrap up the year, join me in taking advantage of every opportunity with these 5 challenges:

I challenge you to…

  1. Give more: Even when you think you have given your all to your chapter, dig deeper. At the end of the year, it’s easy to pull back on your involvement but I challenge you to do just the opposite. Attend everything! It’s so easy to get caught up in classwork, job searching or even a good show… but I challenge you to spend more time with sisters! Take a study break during the week to go to a sisterhood event.
  2. Make a bucket list and cross off everything: The semester is not over yet and you still have time to enjoy this experience! Never studied at the local coffee shop? Pack your backpack and grab a sister! Your college town has been your home for 4 years and I promise you will miss it when you have to say goodbye. No matter where your college town is, there is something new to try! Adventure is out there…
  3. Build a new relationship: Take a newly initiated member out to lunch. There’s no stranger feeling than returning to your chapter as an alumna and only knowing half the members. Get to know the members in the newest class so you have someone to come back to in a few years!
  4. Be thankful for sisterhood: The women that you have met through your membership in Alpha Chi Omega will be your sisters for the rest of your life. You will never find women who will love, support, and challenge you like your Alpha Chi Omega sisters will. Take time over the next month to maintain these relationships! Send a letter to a sister you are grateful for, catch up with a sister you have not hung out with in a while or go on an adventure with a group of sisters (see challenge #2).
  5. Leave a legacy: Your time in the chapter may be coming to an end but you still have time to make a positive impact; I challenge you to leave a legacy that will be talked about for years to come. Be the senior member the rest of the chapter looks up to because you enjoyed a full four-year experience and filled your chapter with love, unselfishness and sincerity.

The best part about wrapping up this journey is what lies ahead. I cannot wait to find my next role to continue being a part of the incredible work that Alpha Chi Omega does. Graduating seniors, my last challenge for you is to find your next journey in Alpha Chi. Whether it is joining an alumnae chapter, supporting a chapter in an advisory board position, or finding a volunteer role; I challenge you all to continue to seek the heights with Alpha Chi Omega!

So, here’s to finishing our last semester together; may it be full of sisterhood, adventure and – if you’re anything like me – lots and lots of coffee!

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The Consultant Position – What Your Parents Want to Know

Arianna BradleyBy Arianna  (Maggard) Bradley
Kappa Xi, University of West Florida
Associate Director – Consultant Training & Volunteer Support
Traveling Consultant 2012-13

As many of you are finishing up your time in college, you might be thinking, “There is no way I’m ready for this whole ‘adulting’ thing!” And when a problem or question comes up about insurance, 401Ks or job interviews your first call is likely to your parents or family members. In my case, my mom – she is the SMARTEST lady I know and she always has my best interests at heart. So when I was considering applying for the chapter consultant position in 2011, I picked up the phone and asked my mom if she thought it was a good idea. As it turned out, she had a lot of great questions about the position, and talking about the opportunity with her helped me solidify my desire to pursue this career. She may not have known what in the world this job was exactly, but she asked all the right questions. And after reading materials on the website, social media posts and the Consultant Chronicles blog, I was prepared to answer them.

I was a first-generation college student, which means I was the first in my family to attend college. That also means that my parents were not members of a fraternity or sorority. This added an extra layer to our conversation about the position because I first had to help them understand what “big Alpha Chi” looked like before we could talk about the job.

The first question my mom asked was, “What even is a chapter consultant?”

[First, the “big Alpha Chi” breakdown.] I explained that Alpha Chi Omega headquarters is just like any other business. There is a board of directors (our National Council) and a hierarchy of staff members who keep the company running. Our collegiate chapters are like our organization’s franchises – locally managed by our collegiate members and alumnae advisory boards. And to my mom’s question: the consultant role in this analogy would be the staff members who work to ensure the franchises are all compliant with the mission, values, policies and standards of the company. They collect data through meetings and observations, analyze the information they receive and provide action plans for continual improvement. Our consultants even play a role in starting up “new franchises” when we start a new chapter on a college campus. Sometimes just putting the sorority and consultant role into business terms helps those unfamiliar with the Greek system really understand the work we do. I know this helped get my mom on board, in particular, because businesses and franchises were things she understood!

Then the next question came… “Is that a full-time position and a real job?”

My mom works for a law firm and so she got right down to business when talking about the consultant role: is it a full-time, professional job? I was pleased to share with her that, YES, consultants are full-time professionals who receive a competitive benefit package. What does the package look like? Well, the consultant position is unique. Not only are you compensated for the work you do, you also have your meals, lodging and travel covered by Alpha Chi Omega. Coupled with the personal and professional benefits of the job, this package was something I couldn’t refuse. My mom was so impressed that I would have the opportunity to not only build up my savings account with my living expenses covered in this role but also build my network across the country before moving onto my next position.

Now that she was ariannaon board with the notion that this really was a pretty great career move, she asked perhaps the most important question: “Well, why do you want to do this?”

Everyone has their own “why,” and it was important that I was able to articulate my “why” to my mom. I told her that I was passionate about my Alpha Chi Omega experience, I wanted to give back to an organization that gave me so much and I wanted to gain the skills that I saw other consultants bring to my chapter. The consultants who visited my chapter during my time as a collegian (looking at you, Kelsey Seitz and Laura Nelson Osepchuck) were rock-star young professionals and really cool women! I wanted to be just like them, and I wanted a job that would develop me into that kind of woman. They were confident, independent, hard-working and could problem-solve through anything. They were never afraid of a difficult conversation and could remain tactful and poised through any conflict. I knew that those skills would benefit me in any future profession because I would learn to sharpen by communication and critical thinking skills.

I’m sure my mom would agree that being a chapter consultant was the best first job I could have had; better than I had ever imagined. The consultant position helped me land a paid internship in California the summer before I started a graduate program. I received a master’s degree from Florida State University, where I remained connected to Alpha Chi Omega as a volunteer. My mom was thrilled when I told her I had the opportunity to return to staff in my current role. People always say, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” My mom knew that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to follow my heart and continue my career with Alpha Chi Omega because I would be growing as a professional, while having a ton of fun working for an organization I care so much about.

Maggard-Bradley Wedding

Maggard-Bradley Wedding with AXO Consultant Sisters and Volunteers

Maggard-Bradley Wedding with AXO Consultant Sisters and Volunteers

This summer, my mom was able to meet my consultant sisters who traveled from near and far for my wedding. It was then that she realized that being a consultant wasn’t just the best professional job after college, but that it brought more joy, love and sisterhood to my life than any of us could have expected.

If you are considering applying for the consultant position, your family is likely part of your decision. I hope this post helps give you more information to share. Over the years, we have also had several parents write posts for this blog about their daughter’s choice to become a consultant. Here are some of their thoughts and links to those original posts for further reading!

“It was never easy, sometimes it was very difficult, but not once did we ever hear any doubt in our daughter’s voice about the decision she made, or the passion she felt about her job as a consultant for Alpha Chi Omega. As a matter of fact, we became more and more convinced that her decision to become a consultant was absolutely the right thing. Alessia’s growths personally, professionally and spiritually were apparent: we knew without a doubt that she could not have had a better opportunity as a new college graduate.”

– Anna and John Satterfield
Parents of Alessia Satterfield
Region 4 Traveling Consultant 2011-2012

Read more from the Satterfields

 

“It became a favorite family pastime to hear the stories she had to tell from the places she had visited. We couldn’t believe some of the challenges and firsts she was experiencing…After hearing all of the different skills she was developing as chapter consultant we knew that this role could take her anywhere, it was just a matter of figuring out where she wanted to be.”

– Valerie and Giancarlo Magliocchetti
Parents of Maree Magliocchetti
Region 1 Traveling Consultant and Nationwide Traveling Consultant 2013-2015

Read more from the Magliocchettis

 

“If Jennifer had the chance to do the consulting job over again, would we encourage her?  ABSOLUTELY!  With no reservations! She developed lifelong skills, experiences and friendships she will never forget and that will serve her well in the future.  Every college graduate should pursue a job like this to give them the professional skills everyone needs in life.

– Janet and Scott Harrison
Parents of Jennifer Vasquez
Resident Consultant at High Point University 2011-2012 and Region 3 Traveling Consultant 2012-2013

Read more from the Harrisons

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and use this time with family to talk about your future career opportunities! We look forward to receiving your submission. Start your application today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fast Growth

Brittney ScealsBy Brittney Sceals
Iota Chi, Middle Tennessee State University
Director of New Business Development at Education Advisory Board and 2012-13 Alpha Chi Omega Traveling Consultant

Looking back on myself five years ago, finding a job after college and having a firm next step in my career seemed like the most important task I would ever be assigned. I tried to create checklist after checklist to analyze my options and establish a formula for making these decisions—I nearly drove myself, my friends and my family insane.

A couple of years later, while reading Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, I stumbled across what ended up being one of the greatest pieces of career advice I’ve ever received and a solution to my constant career anxiety. Early in the book, Sandberg recalls a conversation she had with previous Google CEO Eric Schmidt, where Schmidt tells her “only one criterion mattered when picking a job—fast growth.” I hate to be hyperbolic in saying that this advice from a complete stranger changed my life, but it is not hyperbole to say that it completely reframed how I have evaluated the steps that followed in my career.

If you find yourself reading this, I hope it is because you are considering applying to be a chapter consultant. But regardless of your career trajectory, I hope this piece of advice is as helpful to you as it was to me: Always take the career option that provides you the greatest opportunity for growth. And I can say with confidence, after serving as a chapter consultant for Alpha Chi Omega, that there are few jobs out there in the entry-level terrain that will provide you with a greater opportunity for professional and personal growth.

While I could write for days about my experience as a chapter consultant and how I grew from it, I’ll leave you with two ways serving in this capacity for Alpha Chi Omega provided me with the greatest opportunity for growth I could have imagined—specifically growth as a professional and growth as an Alpha Chi Omega. I hope that if you are considering the chapter consultant job as your first post-collegiate career move, this will encourage you to dive head first into the opportunity. I think you will be hard-pressed to find a job at this stage in your life that will serve you better in this way.

Growth as a Professional

When my year as a chapter consultant was coming to a close, much like I had done in preparation for college graduation, I started worrying about what came next all over again. But what I didn’t realize was how much more poised for the workforce I was this time around.

From my personal observations, when most past chapter consultants summarize their experience, the most measurable growth they report having seen in themselves is the long list of skills they have gained—skills that proved to set them apart from other candidates when they moved on to search for their next job. My experience was no different. Still to this day, I credit my experience as a chapter consultant with my ability to adjust to sudden changes, solve problems and respond gracefully to challenging situations, and to communicate confidently and eloquently with professionals of all ages—and the list goes on.

One of the most valuable skills I took away from my time as a chapter consultant was my ability to rethink my approach to risks. The consultant job required me to step so far out of my comfort zone—walking into a room to teach a workshop about our Ritual and seeing 300 unfamiliar faces, traveling across the country alone for weeks at a time and completing my first job with great autonomy, walking up to a complete a stranger on a college campus to ask her if I could tell her more about the new sisterhood we were starting from scratch, being the sole person responsible for finding a solution when something inevitably goes wrong between recruitment rounds. While I didn’t really see it in myself at the time, I understand now that there were very few things a new employer could have asked me to do that I wasn’t prepared for coming off of that experience, and I have no problem arguing that few other first jobs would have primed me as a young professional for the workforce in the same degree this job did.

Growth as an Alpha Chi Omega

The hope I have for every single Alpha Chi Omega woman is that she will leave her collegiate experience a better person than when she received her bid card, and that the ideals of the organization will have provided her a roadmap for how to live a more meaningful life. I thought I believed in these ideals of Alpha Chi Omega when I graduated from college, but becoming a chapter consultant vastly widened that perception.

I saw firsthand that the values of our organization reach so much further than the 100 women I called my sisters in college. Alpha Chi was providing a safe space for women to find their voices, realize their potential and become leaders all across the country. I was given the opportunity daily to look at a woman and tell her I believed in her abilities when she wasn’t yet sure she believed in them herself. I experienced the selflessness and love the women in this organization were immediately willing to show to me, even though I was a complete stranger. I was, quite literally, moved to tears on so many occasions by seeing the difference the organization was making in hundreds of young women’s lives.

Through these types of experiences, my belief in the relevance of sorority and my appreciation for a much larger Alpha Chi Omega than I had known before grew exponentially. And because of these experiences, I strive each day to be a better alumna, a better volunteer and a better sister than I would have had the understanding to become had I not seen the experience from this vantage point.

And lastly, this wouldn’t be a Consultant Chronicles post if I didn’t add a warm and fuzzy plug. The ways I grew from my chapter consultant experience are infinite, but what I also want each of you to know is that I truly believe there are very few career opportunities you will find out there that will allow you to wake up each day and feel like you are directly impacting the lives and futures of thousands of women. In this job, not every day will be sunshine and rainbows. Admittedly, some of them will feel impossibly hard. But rest assured that, should this be the journey you choose to take, you will be able to reach out and touch the thing you are shaping and the lives you are changing, you will go on the best adventures and you’ll be amazed at the things you will learn about yourself and about this sisterhood.

Don’t miss the chance to apply for this one-of-a-kind opportunity. The link is live, so apply today!

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Lollipop Moments

April_PfeiferBy April Pfeifer
Alpha Lambda, University of Minnesota
Traveling Consultant

“How many of you guys have a lollipop moment? A moment where someone said something or did something that you feel fundamentally made your life better?” Drew Dudley asks this question in his 2010 Ted Talk, “Leading with Lollipops.”

When you are a part of a Greek organization, we all have lollipop moments that reassure us of our decision to join. I think this can be said for being a chapter consultant as well. This job is full of highs and lows, but it is those small moments that reaffirm why we do this job.

A couple weeks ago, I was able to visit the women of Delta Lambda. I had spent time with them back in January for recruitment so it was so special to be back with them for their initiation. The week was spent talking about Leo’s Oscar win, crafting for big/little reveal and laughing in the commons over meals. While all of these things filled me with joy, it was the night that I arrived in Wisconsin that stuck out to me.

My flight landed in Milwaukee at 11:15 on a Friday night. The chapter is about an hour and a half away from the airport so it isn’t the shortest drive to come and pick me up. On top of it all, it decided to snow upon my arrival and that area of the state was under a winter weather advisory. Something that collegians don’t always realize is how much we rely on them to get through each day, whether it’s for meals or transportation. I’m not one who likes to ask others to host me, so naturally I began to feel guilty about how my arrival was playing out and how I was inconveniencing the chapter. Yet despite the time, weather and road conditions, the chapter still managed to meet me at the airport with so much energy that it truly made me feel as if I were a sister of Delta Lambda.

Collegians only see the time you spend with them and don’t always know what’s emotionally going on behind the scenes. Because of this, the gestures are genuine and carry more meaning. To the women of Delta Lambda, thank you for giving me my lollipop moment at a time when I needed it most. You reminded me why I continue to do my job when the days get hard. It isn’t because I travel to a new location each week, it is because I am able to foster some of the most beautiful relationships with intelligent, witty and kind-hearted women who understand what sisterhood is.

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Student Trustee Perspectives

Each year, four collegians are selected to serve on the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation Board of Trustees. Student trustees have the opportunity to get involved with Alpha Chi Omega on a national level while serving as the voices for our collegiate membership.

We had the opportunity to sit down with this year’s student trustees to learn more about their experiences.

BOT_student_HollyPyper_web

Holly Pyper
Beta, Albion College

What made you interested in becoming a student trustee?

Holly Pyper: I wanted to become a student trustee because I wanted to get as much as I could out of my time as an undergraduate woman. I saw this position as a way to grow professionally and give back to our organization in a meaningful way. I didn’t realize that in addition to those benefits, I’d build deep friendships with women across the country.

Kelsey Montgomery: I was most interested in sharing the collegiate perspective with the Foundation board and being able to help chapters and officers with Foundation-related questions.

After applying to serve as a student trustee, what was the interview process like?

BOT_student_ElizabethKemins_web

Lizzie Kemins
Psi, University of Oklahoma

Lizzie Kemins: The interview process consisted of an application and an interview. I remember being nervous for the interview because I looked up the members of the board of trustees and seeing the prestigious women I would be speaking to, but on the phone it was just like a normal conversation. They made me feel very important and it was so cool to see that these women really cared what I had to say!

As a student trustee, you are the collegiate voice to the leaders of our Fraternity – your voice matters! I’m sure you’re busy with class, applying for jobs and figuring out life after college. What is the time commitment to serving as a student trustee?

Kelly Suntrup: The time commitment is about the same as serving in an executive board position. I previously served on the executive board for three years, so I was really excited to have something new but still related to Alpha Chi Omega to fill my time!

You’ve been doing this for a year; looking back, what have you learned from this experience?

Holly Pyper: Where should I begin? Getting an up-close understanding of how an organization functions is really enlightening. Beyond my new appreciation for Alpha Chi Omega, this understanding will prove helpful in almost any organization. Additionally, practicing communication skills in this unique setting is very helpful. It’s hard to sum up what I’ve learned because my supervisors have been really great at communicating with us, the student trustees, to see what we want to learn. Our projects grow and adapt depending on what we want to explore and learn next.

And looking into the future, what have you learned that will help you after graduation?

Kelsey Montgomery

Kelsey Montgomery
Iota Sigma, Southern Methodist University

Lizzie Kemins: Not everyone gets to say they were a board of trustees member at age 20, but I do. I now have experience seeing how a successful Foundation is run. I’ve gotten to learn the technical parts of a board that I never really thought about. I have also gotten to learn how to engage with people about donations. Most importantly to me, though, I’ve been exposed to alumnae who are successful and used their time as collegiate members to the fullest extent. As a senior in her last semester, that is priceless.

Kelsey Montgomery: One of my favorite memories as a student trustee was when I had the chance to attend the 2014 National Convention in Palm Desert, California. Attending convention in it of itself was amazing, but getting to know members of the Foundation Board of Trustees and the National Council was equally if not more impactful. These women are some of the truest examples of what being an Alpha Chi Omega is all about, and they graciously donate their time to make sure our organization is just as strong 20 years from now as it is today.

Kelly Suntrup Delta Chi, William Woods University

Kelly Suntrup
Delta Chi, William Woods University

Kelly Suntrup: My favorite memory so far was when some of the board of trustees members flew all the way to St. Louis to catch me up on what I missed at the first meeting. I really appreciated how important they made me feel.

With the application deadline approaching for the next group of student trustees, why should someone apply?

Holly: You should apply for this position because it’s an incredibly unique learning opportunity. Simply observing the function of the board of trustees is a great educational experience. However, it’s more than observation—actually participating in discussion and having your own projects makes the position even richer. Also, the connections and friendships you make will last a lifetime and certainly prove helpful in any walk of life. But most importantly, you’ll be doing meaningful work that gives back to your sisters and helps support our philanthropy. I’ve never felt so good about the work I’ve done and gotten so much from an experience before my time as a student trustee.

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Starting on Cloud Eight…

web_Catherine_GeanonBy: Catherine Geanon
Alpha Chi, Bulter University
Region One, Traveling Consultant

Imagine this: it is October training back at headquarters for the chapter consultants who travel to established chapters across the country. We have been on the road for 12 weeks, visiting a new chapter every week. After 6-10 weeks of recruitment visits and 2-6 weeks of chapter management visits, we are suddenly reunited with the only people in the world who understand our lifestyle. It is an emotional reunion, one filled with laughter and tears. We reminisce for hours immediately following our reunion, as we share a multitude of stories – weird, funny, sad, infuriating and inspiring.

Unbeknownst to us at the time, part of the storytelling would include a workshop facilitated by our supervisor during which she asked, “When you describe your position to others, how do you describe it? What do you tell family and friends who ask you why you decided to become a chapter consultant?” Long story short, many of us responded in a similar fashion, “It’s more than a dream job. It’s an opportunity to work with real, strong women across the country and to give back to an organization that gave us so much in college. To empower women across the country and help them to become the best version of themselves is a profoundly personal journey, too. Each day we conquer our own fears and challenge ourselves to become the women who we always wanted to be.”

Fast forward to December training. All of the consultants are reunited for the first time – both traveling and resident consultants this time – since we either hit the road or moved to our respective resident locations last. As we sit together in a professional development workshop led by our supervisors, we are asked to find a job description for our dream jobs. As we do this, I realize that the hard and soft skills that we learn and refine as consultants are completely transferable to all of our future careers, whatever they might be. More significantly, though, each of us has gained considerable insight into defining and identifying the potential career paths and opportunities that are unique to our self-fulfillment.

During this workshop, I realized that I could live a life full of wonder, inspiration, passion, service, meaningful relationships, and yes, my fair share of adversity (which hopefully results in resilience and growth). I am a chapter consultant and an aspiring physician’s assistant, and each day I am amazed at how much this position has taught me about finding what I call “my employment feng shui.” I was carefully, and intentionally, placed by Alpha Chi Omega as a travelling consultant for region one. In the future when I look for the right physician’s assistant position, I will similarly seek out my personal employment feng shui – a combination of all of the right workplace factors (i.e. the physician, support staff, patient population and amount of potential positional satisfaction). I appreciate daily the effort and thought that was put into placing me in my current position. I hope to apply a similar level of skill and expertise when I am searching for my best fit as a physician’s assistant.

Looking back on my time thus far as a chapter consultant, I have created a list of the practical and sometimes profoundly personal steps that will help me to once again find the best position for me:

  1. Start with “why”: By learning to start conversations with the “why” as opposed to the “what” or “how,” it is possible to understand the true meaning behind actions and behaviors. Why do I want to be a physician’s assistant? Why do I want one position instead of another? In order for me to start with why, I must ask myself what motivates me? How have I found fulfillment and inspiration in other positions that I’ve had?
  2. Find a mentor: Although this may seem self-evident, it can be a challenge to find the balance of traits needed in a mentor – someone who is knowledgeable, honest and supportive. I must do the proper research: who do I know that is a physician’s assistant? Does s/he possess the qualities and expertise that I seek in a mentor? Can this person both challenge and support me?
  3. Know your love language: At first glance, it may seem odd to use this terminology to reference a career since the original intent behind knowing one’s love language was for amorous purposes. But, let me explain what I mean. During consultant training this past summer, we each determined our love language. I learned that my love language is words of affirmation. Can I find a career and a position in which I can receive words of affirmation as my form of praise? Absolutely! In my current position, my motivation is driven by members and chapters that reveal the impact I have made; if I can guide one officer’s leadership development and a woman tells me that I have done so, then I feel that my efforts were worthwhile and meaningful. In the future, I see these words of affirmation coming from patients who I treat, colleagues with whom I work, and the physician(s) who oversee my work.  I am hopeful that I can find a practice opportunity where my co-workers and I can understand each person’s love language enough to create a supportive and productive work environment.
  4. Focus upon realistic optimism: When searching for the right position, it is important for me to remember to remain realistic and optimistic; rather than focusing upon the positions I don’t want, I need to find the ones I do want. It is so much easier to describe what I don’t want in a position than it is to determine what exactly I do want. Realistic optimism can be achieved in various ways. I have found the journey of a chapter consultant to be both incredibly challenging and rewarding; and thus, I must be able to identify my strengths and weaknesses, and find ways to overcome the latter. I must also be adaptable and appreciate adversity because I cannot be prepared for every situation, person or behavior I will encounter. Paralleling the unknown that is encountered, I must also remember to set realistic goals. For me, a career that is easy is not necessarily fulfilling. I must ask myself, “Are my goals and my ideal position realistic for me to accomplish/attain? Is it realistic for me to work certain hours? Does a position offer the benefits I am seeking?”
  5. Find an opportunity…not a job: I absolutely love that being a chapter consultant is more than a job. It’s an opportunity. Yes, I do get paid to travel to chapters across the nation, meet women I am able to inspire and who inspire me and I have the potential to create change in a chapter and influence lives. But these incredible benefits result from an opportunity, not a job. I choose not to view this position or any position in the future as merely a “job” because there is often a negative connotation associated with that term. I am seeking a lifetime opportunity in which I can positively impact others, create change and encounter experiences that consistently help me to become the best version of myself.
  6. Seek a position that you can “grow with” rather than “grow into”: For me, a dream position is one which I find challenging, stimulating and ultimately, doable. A position for which I have to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to understand or accomplish effectively, or one that I consistently feel is not feasible is not the one for me. Since I am interested in family practice, my ideal position is also one in which I can achieve employment longevity.
  7. Start on Cloud 8: Ultimately, my ideal physician’s assistant position is similar to my current position as a chapter consultant. I must find an opportunity that is fulfilling and stimulating as-is; this is cloud eight. I must also find an opportunity that has “Aha!” or ”Wow!” moments, moments that catapult regular feelings of satisfaction to those of euphoria; this is cloud nine. Finding a position or opportunity that is always perfect – one in which I am always on cloud nine – is impossible. What I can find instead is a position that helps me to reach cloud nine as frequently as possible.

I know how to reach my cloud eight. Do you?

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Take a Moment

web_Haleigh_RobertsBy: Haleigh Robers
Delta Zeta, Central Michigan University
Resident Consultant – Loyola Marymount University

With one of the most beloved American holidays, Thanksgiving, right around the corner, there’s no doubt that our minds are filled with anxious thoughts. Whether it’s anticipating a much-needed break or already tasting the Thanksgiving Day menu, I can see the urgency in everyone’s faces for the holiday to arrive.

As a chapter consultant, being on a college schedule comes with the territory, so I still mirror this anticipation felt by students all across the country. Although I can cook for myself, I’m ready for a home-cooked meal. Although I call my Mom almost every day, I’m ready to fly those 2,032 miles and be surrounded by family again.  And yes, although I love my job, like anyone, I’m ready for a relaxing break!

As it is with many holidays, we tend to get preoccupied with the hustle and bustle of life. Sometimes, we forget what the holidays are truly about amidst the agendas, the planning, the food and the parties.

Thanksgiving sometimes gets overlooked as that one holiday that falls between Halloween and Christmas, but the beauty of Thanksgiving is that, in its simplest form, it’s a day devoted to giving thanks, gratitude and appreciation.

I have always been grateful for Alpha Chi Omega. During my collegiate years, my chapter gave me a home away from home, some of my best friends, personal development, leadership opportunities and endless experiences and memories that I will forever refer to as the best four years of my life.

After becoming a consultant, however, I have exponentially added to my gratitude list. In this position, I’ve learned a few things. I am lucky enough to have a job that allows me to work for an organization that I love and meet other women who love it too. I am lucky enough to work with some of the best women I have ever met, and even luckier that they are my sisters and my support system. I am lucky enough to have a job that allows me to give back to an organization that changed my life in amazing ways. Alpha Chi Omega has provided me a world of opportunity, and none of it would be possible without the women who came before me and the women today who work so hard to see Alpha Chi live up to everything it is meant to be.

So this Thanksgiving I ask you to do one thing; when you start to feel that anxious feeling to get home and away from it all, pause and reflect on everything you have to be thankful for. We waste so much time wanting to get to the next place instead of taking a moment to send some gratitude into the world.

“To appreciate every little service rendered; to see and appreciate all that is noble in another…” – words of wisdom from our very own symphony. If there are sisters you are thankful for, let them know. I know I’ll be doing just that this Thanksgiving holiday.

Thank you, Alpha Chi Omega, for all the wonderful things you’ve given so many women over the years to be thankful for.