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!