I loved being in a sorority in college. It wasn’t until after I graduated that I realized that there are so many career paths in Greek life. I spoke to Devon to find out more about her experience as an Extension Consultant at Phi Sigma Sigma!
1. What made you decide to join a sorority?
My mother was in a local sorority in college and she always talked about her sorority friends and adventures she had with them. Every year her new member class has a reunion – they’ve been doing it for 30 years! Seeing the benefits of joining a sorority, and knowing how many friends my mom gained because of her sorority experience made me want to join. I didn’t really say it when I looked for schools, but a major factor in choosing my college was the Greek life!
2. How did you choose which sorority was right for you?
I didn’t choose my sorority; it chose me! My recruitment story is slightly long and includes lots of tears, but basically I let the stereotypes and superficial parts of Greek life get in the way of truly getting to know the sisters in each party. Although I didn’t think I fit in my chapter and seriously considered disassociating as a new member before initiation, I later realized I fit perfectly. It took getting to know myself more to understand this, but it was definitely the right outcome!
3. Did you hold leadership positions in your chapter?
As a new member I met with my chapter’s treasurer and was immediately interested in the position. I don’t have a background in finance or any interest in accounting, but I am organized and I am good at planning ahead, so I ran for treasurer. I held the position my junior spring semester, and would have continued on until December, but our chapter’s vice president was given a once-in-a-lifetime fellowship opportunity our senior fall semester and took a semester off from school. I was nominated and elected by my chapter to take her position, so for my final semester on the executive board I was vice president and trained the new treasurer as well!
4. What are three things that you learned from your experience as a collegiate?
First, you will not leave college the same person you were when you arrived, and that’s okay. In fact, I think it’s a great thing. Your opinions will change throughout your four years and when you look back at freshman year, you will see a much different person. This is normal! When I look back at freshman year, I see a less confident, more reserved version of myself and I’m happy I’ve grown up.
Second, don’t feel pressured to have a typical college experience. When your parents and their friends reminisce on college and say it was the best four years it’s because they had fun. Don’t do what you think you’re supposed to do, do what you want to. That’s the beauty of college – you get to do pretty much whatever you’re interested in! I am not a huge drinker and probably never will be, and I don’t have many stories from my nights out in college to look back on in a few years, but that’s okay. I do have great memories I will keep forever and can confidently say college was pretty great.
Lastly, take your time to test the waters. The first thing you’ll be asked as a freshman is your name, hometown, and your major. I’d say that half of the friends I met freshman year have changed their majors or at least changed their focus. Maybe chose a department you are interested in, but know you don’t usually have to declare until your sophomore year – so take some time to explore different classes and interests!
5. What made you decide to become a consultant after graduating?
After deciding not pursue medical school senior year (a goal I’d had since middle school) I knew I needed a year off to figure out what I wanted to do next. I only applied for yearlong programs including being an au pair, teaching English abroad, and being a consultant! I was also encouraged to apply after volunteering at my sorority’s annual Leadership Conference. I wanted a position where I could help people but also figure out what I really wanted to do!
6. What is a typical day like for you? Can you walk me through what it means to be a consultant?
My days vary drastically. In the fall, I was in Illinois working as an extension consultant as we colonized a chapter. Days started at 8:30am with a conference call to the office, then moved into tabling, meetings and campus outreach before coming back to the apartment for dinner and more work on our laptops. Working 12 hour days were pretty common! When I have chapter visits I am also nonstop for about 12 hours in meetings, events, workshops and catching up on paperwork. There is time to relax, but you are rarely alone and usually in a common area on campus. Currently the majority of my work is focused on a single chapter and I serve as their advisor. I am on campus nights and weekends and spend my days at home emailing and texting with the sisters. I still work about 50-60 hours a week but it’s broken up and I’m able to sleep in or catch up on personal things much more easily!
7. What is your favorite thing about working for nationals?
My favorite thing working at headquarters has been learning so much about how it operates, the history, and how the individual chapters operate. You get such a good sense of the organization as a whole and are able to meet so many sisters! Networking just comes naturally, and I have made some fabulous connections this year.
8. What is your favorite thing about being a consultant?
My favorite thing about my job is working with the collegians, and I think my fellow consultants would agree with me on this one! Working at HQ is just like any other job with a boss and a team you report to, but then you have the added bonus of making friends and mentoring younger women at each campus! Teaching a treasurer how to use our billing system or supporting a vice president in wanting to take ritual more seriously can be the most rewarding moments on a visit! I’m not only helping my sorority and improving chapters, but I’m helping individuals achieve their goals, which is invaluable.
9. What advice do you have for women who are interested in becoming a consultant for their sorority?
Know what you’re getting yourself into. Coming out of college I was eager to jump into work and be the best consultant possible. I wasn’t prepared for the amount of energy (emotional and physical), time or patience my job would require. A 40-hour workweek or 9-5 job just isn’t part of my life. Collegians text me at 3am, and I chaperone date parties and formals less than a year after I was attending my own sorority events as a collegian. The job isn’t easy and it isn’t always glamorous. Going in, hold your head high and know things will probably change without much – or any – notice and you’ll just have to go with the flow! Take things with a grain of salt and focus on the end goal – it’s worth it!
10. What advice would you give to someone who is about to graduate from college?
It’s really okay if you don’t know what you want to do. I’m a year out of college and I’m just figuring it out (kind of). A fellow consultant thought she knew exactly what she wanted to do and is now going in a completely different direction. The year will change you and make you a better person, but it also might change what you are interested in. Keep an open mind and do what you love. This is a time to figure it all out, so take advantage of that! I know this sounds very optimistic, but it’s really how you have to look at it! Getting yourself down about not being ‘on track’ with other graduates won’t help you figure out your next step. Focus on you and think positively!
11. Who is your mentor?
My mentor is my chapter advisor from college! Until I was treasurer I was completely afraid of Megan and thought she was very intense. When I got involved in the chapter I learned she had high standards and expected only the best from her executive board members. Her love for Phi Sig as well as her management skills not only helped my chapter win Chapter of the Year, but also made me a better worker – I find myself expecting only the best from my collegians! Megan is also someone I can go to when I hit a bump in the road or get stuck with something. I think it’s important to have a mentor who will challenge you and push you forward but who is also a good listener and someone you can vent to. Sometimes Megan knows what is best for me before I do, and she isn’t afraid to doubt my thoughts. She keeps me on my toes and has taught me to be confident in what I say.
12. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
If you’re trying to be like someone else, you’re not being yourself. I’m pretty sure my mom was the first to say this to me and I’ve really taken it to heart since I studied abroad in college and realized I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do anymore. When you are trying to figure out what you’re interested in, it’s easy to see someone who is happy and try to emulate them. The problem is that you aren’t that person and doing the same as them won’t necessarily make you perfectly content. The hard part is finding what makes you you, but once you find it you will be happier than you’ve ever tried to be!
13. What advice do you have for other young professional women?
Don’t play the easy card and be passive in the office. It’s much easier for me to joke about my job as a ‘professional sorority woman’ when people ask, but it also brings my confidence down – not to mention it makes my job look basic and unimportant. Stand up for what you do and speak your mind. The professional world can be very competitive and, at the end of the day, you are your only defense. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or speak up, it shows you care.
Isn’t Devon amazing? She has such wonderful advice!