September 20, 2014

On the Road: So What Do You Do?


Being an ELC is a unique job. I struggled to adequately explain it to my family and friends during the months leading up to the role. After lengthy conversations filled with questions of luggage, living quarters and potential weather, they typically ended with “So, you basically get to be in college for another year?”

Although it was frustrating that no one really knew what I was doing, I realized I myself didn’t know exactly what my role was going to be. I knew what the handbook said and what I had learned from past consultants, but what would my experience be? Now after traveling for over a month, I have a much clearer understand of what being an ELC means to me.

I have learned that building relationships is important in any job, but especially as an ELC. When you are eating, sleeping and living with women who are essentially strangers, you better get to know them fast. I have definitely gotten some confused looks from members unaware of my visit as I sat down for dinner on my first day. But for the most part, the members are quick to adopt me as “one of their own.” Consistently, I have been shocked by the incredible impact an ELC can make in just a week or two. In less time than a traditional company spends training their employees, we grow organizational structure, create leadership and build self-esteem in groups of young women. It takes a great amount of trust to let an ELC make great change in such a short amount of time, but luckily sharing the bond of Alpha Phi provides just that. 

I think that that is really what makes this job so different from any other. We are not just coworkers, but sisters. Although that phrase may come off as cliché, it is actually what makes our roles so efficient and effective. The level of trust and understanding present before we enter any chapter allows us to skip the formalities of traditional relationship building. No matter what university you are from, age you are or level of involvement you have, we all have a common thread that makes us far from strangers. 

People may not understand what I do and think I am wasting away a pivotal time in my life; saying I’m “living the college dream one more year.” But that’s okay; I don’t do it for them. In just one month I have had a greater diversity of learning experiences and more rewarding moments than most people do in years of their careers. When I do settle down and find myself interviewing for a more “normal job” I will know that my role as an ELC has prepared me for anything I will encounter.

Although sometimes I think it would have been pretty fun to enroll myself into one more year of college, being an ELC is an experience I wouldn’t change for the world. 

Anita Shannon (Beta Epsilon-Arizona) is a first year educational leadership consultant. Learn more about Anita by clicking here. 

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