As a senior at the University of Vermont, I had a lot to consider as I made my way toward entering the so-called "real world." As a college student, I was reluctant to trade my one-class-per-day lifestyle for a typical 9-to-5 job. Looking back on why I applied to be an ELC, I was driven by three lessons my father taught me that have to do with career choices, life plans, and happiness. What is my passion in life? How can I pursue that passion and make it my profession without regard to its monetary reward? Finally, what area of the country will nourish my aspirations? I think these questions have gotten me to where I am today. I am fortunate to have found a job I love that helps me look back on my entrance into the "real world" with a smile on my face.
Here are a few things I learned while following my father's advice.
- Location is important. Consider what part of that country (or even the world!) that you would like to live in. Where will you be the most connected? Where do your family and friends live? Do you think you should be near the ones that you love? I am based in Santa Cruz, California, and have family that lives in Los Angeles. If I ever need anything, they are there. This makes me feel safe. But I also travel quite a bit as an educational leadership consultant, so I am able to meet family and friends in new parts of the country.
- Make sure you feel empowered in your workplace. The structure and management style of a company is important. Do you feel like you have creative liberties within your position? Are you fulfilled and happy with what you accomplish each day? As a Theta collegian, I felt very empowered in my officer positions. As chief recruiting officer and service & philanthropy director, I felt like the events I planned changed the chapter and created a positive environment. I was proud after recruitment and after learning of the contributions our event raised for CASA. That is why I decided to be an ELC. I knew that if I could feel that empowered as a collegian, I could really make a difference working at the international level.
- Don't settle for a job that doesn't absolutely fulfill you. This relates to the passion aspect of my father's guidance. Are you passionate about what you're doing? Does it make you happy? Would you continue working there if you did not have an annual salary? I love my job as an ELC. Every day brings new excitements and new challenges. Based at our newest chapter at UC Santa Cruz, I have had the privilege of meeting some incredible women. I am thankful for what I get to do when I wake up every morning and thankful that my lucky twin stars brought me to where I am today.
As you return to school for your first, next, or final year in Kappa Alpha Theta, think about what you want out of your Theta experience. Everyone joins for various reasons - and stays for various reasons - and that is okay. That adds diversity and gives everyone a different experience. Kappa Alpha Theta strives to create an environment in which everyone is welcomed, is encouraged to bring something different to the table, and has the chance to get involved.
If this is your first year in Theta, I encourage you to take advantage of every minute you have with your sisters. Look at each event, coffee date, leadership position, and chapter meeting as an opportunity to bond with your sisters, form lasting friendships, and find your place and passion through Kappa Alpha Theta.
If you are entering one of the "middle" years in Kappa Alpha Theta, I encourage you to stay engaged. Think back to why you joined Theta, what you loved about it, and what you still want to experience through Theta.
If this is your last undergraduate year in Kappa Alpha Theta, I encourage you to get to know the new members, strengthen those friendships you already have within Theta, and think about the legacy that you want to leave. It is easy to take advantage of being so close to all of your sisters in college, and also forget that in a number of months everyone will go their separate ways.
Kappa Alpha Theta truly has the ability to change women's lives, to create bonds and friendships that will last a lifetime, and to help members grow in ways that were at one time unimaginable.