September 7, 2015

On the Road: The Road Less Traveled

It was a Wednesday morning last winter when I was woken up by a phone call from Evanston, Illinois. My heart raced; this was the call I had been waiting for-- the call that would bring me one step closer to finally figuring out what the next year of my life would bring. Flustered, excited, (and frankly, half asleep) I picked up the phone and heard the words that I had so anxiously been waiting for from the moment I had left interview weekend earlier that month: “Hi Jillian, we’d like to extend you an offer to travel next year as an ELC…”

Despite how excited I was to receive that call, when I hung up the phone, a pit began to form in my stomach. I had five days to decide between taking my dream job of an ELC, or the business job offer that I had received just a few days prior. The decision I was making seemed to be anything but an easy feat. A million thoughts ran through my head. Will I be able to find a new job after my traveling ends? What will people think when they hear I work for my sorority? Am I crazy for not choosing the safer, more traditional route? Can I really live on the road with only two suitcases for a whole year?! Out of all of the questions that were running through my brain, one question stood out the most to me: How could I not take this once in a lifetime opportunity? 

As the two month mark of my time as an ELC nears, the questions that seemed to haunt me that weekend have already been answered so clearly. Yes, I will be able to find a job after this year. More confident in my abilities than ever before, I will be able to tell any interviewer how I can gain buy-in in a room full of 100 new faces, create and lead workshops on the spot, and stay cool, calm and collected under any sort of pressure. People will think what I’m doing is courageous, and pretty cool. Working as a consultant for an organization that you are passionate about isn’t something that every college grad is able to say they could do right out of school. Living out of two suitcases really isn’t that bad. It may have taken me a over month to figure out how to pack the right mix of clothing, but having my whole wardrobe on wheels really ended up being a breeze.

Not taking this opportunity would have left me with the biggest question of all: What if? What if I hadn’t taken this job? What if I hadn’t had the opportunity to befriend 20 of the most beautiful and fun souls that I get to call my best friends and fellow ELCs? What if I hadn’t been able to experience the joy of the Washington State women when they saw the new members they worked so hard for on Bid Day? What if I hadn’t been able to now say I am part of a team that is making history by starting a brand new Alpha Phi chapter at Yale University? 

For those of you still deciding whether or not you should submit that application [http://alphaphi.org/elc/apply.html] on October 1, I encourage you to ask yourself the same question I did: How could I not? Being an ELC is a once in a lifetime opportunity to give back to the organization that you have been so devoted to for the past three years. It is an opportunity to travel the country and learn more about yourself and others than you ever thought possible. It is an opportunity to gain invaluable experience that no other job right out of college could ever provide. It is an opportunity to inspire, be inspired, and live the rest of your life never having to ask yourself the question “What if I had just decided to be an ELC? “

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by…and that has made all the difference.

Jillian Knowles (Delta-Cornell) is a first year educational leadership consultant. Learn more about Jillian by clicking here.






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