When I graduated I felt like my time as a sorority woman was not done yet, I felt like I had more to do. So, after I spent a little time deciding what my next step was going to be, one of my friends, and sorority sisters, mentioned how much she loved being an advisor for a chapter in Iowa. After listening to her talk about everything she loved about her position, I realized that this would be the perfect next step for me. I became the advisor to the public relations officer, in the same chapter one of my best friends was also advising. I’m starting my second semester of advising, and still loving it. So, if being an advisor seems like the perfect next step for you, read on for some advice and tips and tricks before you dive in.
You Don’t Need Past Experience
While past experience is helpful it is not a requirement in order to take on an advising role. What is important, is that you are willing to learn about your position and most importantly, that you want to be an asset to your student. It is smart to at least choose an advising role that oversees an area you are familiar with. This will help you slide into the role a bit more smoothly. For example, I never got a chance to hold a position in my chapter while I was a collegian, but I was able to hold a public relations position in a club at my school, which came in handy when I was choosing what position I would want as an advisor.
Be Willing to Learn New Things
From the moment you accept your position you should be ready to learn and research anything you don’t have the answer to. The students you work with will be leaning on you as one of their main lines of communication. They will come to you with questions about their role and it is your role to help them the best you can. You need to be up-to-date on policies, educational requirements, role responsibilities and more to help the students have a successful term. It’s also good to study up on everything to ensure that both you and your student are following the necessary rules and guidelines that your organization deems important. It is also OK to tell a student you don’t know the answer, but take that time to find the answer together.
Some collegiate officer positions may not require as much work, so you may not be in constant contact with your director, which is why it’s that much more important to do regularly check in on them. I tried to make it a point to check in at least once or twice a month and just follow up on past conversations, check in on any concerns and brainstorm for your next event or upcoming task. You can also use these opportunities to bond with the students you work with. Find ways to grow your relationship that will allow for the student to feel comfortable coming to you with questions.
Make Sure You Have Fun
You won’t be any good to anyone on your team if you don’t enjoy your position! Make sure that you choose an advising position you are passionate about. You should also have good relationships with the rest of the advisors. I lucked out with having one of my closest friends on my team, especially because I am a “remote work” advisor, so it’s harder for me to travel to Iowa for events. You want to make sure that you can count on all of these women on your team to help you and root for you. Start building relationships with them by asking them to coffee or having a virtual coffee date, if you need. Finding ways to get to know one another will be the first step.
Being an advisor is such a fun experience, and I am so glad that I have the chance to see what it was all about. You are able to make a difference in the lives of the students you work with and ensure the success of an organization that gave you so much. If you go into your advising position with an open mind and a willingness to learn you will go far. Whether you stay on and advise your own chapter or branch out to a different chapter, they will be lucky to have you on their team.
Written by Nicki Fannin