October 23, 2014

On the Road: It Won’t Always Be Easy, BUT It Will Be Worth It



After traveling as an ELC for over two months now, my experiences have been vast, fast-paced and exciting! I’ve become a professional airport navigator (self-proclaimed), packing wizard, Excel expert and can pair anything in my suitcase to make an outfit suitable to wear in the pesky month of October (where it feels like winter in Ohio and summer in Alabama). Although, I still can’t seem to get the hang of what time zone I’m in…but hey, greatness takes time!

No amount of training or preparation for this job can fully show you what it’s like; you begin to truly find out once you’re on the road yourself. It really is a job unlike any other, and I’m beyond thankful for this amazing opportunity. 

I could probably craft a (not-so-well-written) novel explaining all that I’ve seen and done since I embarked on the first part of my journey at the Executive Office in July. But to quote a popular Internet sensation… “Ain’t nobody got time for that.” 

So instead, I thought I would share some honest observations for future ELCs; some things that will be good to know. (Side note: If you’ve ever been an ELC, or are currently an ELC, I hope you feel the urge to shout “YES!” upon completion of reading this list.)

1. It will NEVER be easy to explain where you live. Or really… don’t live. No matter how many times you try to explain it to the person sitting next to you on your third flight of the day, a response like “out of my two suitcases” only welcomes more confused smiles, nods, and questions. Hang in there!
2. It will not always be easy to explain your job. To your parents, old roommates, boyfriend, friends from home or estranged relatives that you only see during the holidays. YES, it is a “real” job. YES, I get paid to do this. NO, this is not a “victory lap.” NO, my job title is not “professional sorority woman.” Create your elevator speech explaining what an ELC is and does, and stick to it!
3. It will not be easy to understand or comprehend regional trends. Do not try to do so. They are quirky and baffling to an “outsider,” such as an ELC. Oh, you don’t get why my Comfort Colors frocket (frat-pocket) is so oversized that you can’t see my Norts (Nike shorts)? Welcome to the South! Chaco’s, Hawaiian flip flops, Patagonia, flower headbands, tennis skirts…the list goes on. Stick to your snappy casual and you’ll be golden!
4. It will not be easy to get up at 3:00 a.m. after Formal Recruitment is finally over and catch a ride to the nearest airport, which is an hour away, to begin your travel day across North America. Make sure to drive-thru a Starbucks and get that sleepy collegian and yourself two lattes, catch a few zzz’s on the plane, and step out of that airport ready to conquer your next adventure!
5. It will not be easy to sit through a Preference Ceremony that mirrors your own collegiate chapters. Every time the member playing the guitar starts “Never Alone” and you see the water works happening all around, you might not be able to help yourself. You’ll probably smile because you realize you feel so at home with these women, where ever you may be, while still aching for a hug from your little. It’s comforting to know that Alpha Phi feels like home – no matter where you are.

It won’t always be easy, BUT IT WILL BE WORTH IT. I can promise you that. Being an ELC is one of the most rewarding jobs ever. Although there can be tough times (your entire Excel document crashing 30 minutes before you need it) and sleepless nights (wait… what is sleep during Recruitment season?), seeing the lasting, positive impression you can make on a chapter and its members in such a short time is the most gratifying feeling in the world.

I know I leave each chapter I visit as ELC changed, and I’m thankful that each chapter is also changing me. What could be worth more than that?

Mindi Grewell (Iota Nu-Kentucky) is a first year educational leadership consultant. Learn more about Mindi by clicking here.

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