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Whether it has been two years or two decades since you graduated, you likely still remember an advisor or mentor that made a great impact on your college career. Our inter/national organizations thrive today because of the dedication of our volunteer officers and advisors and saying yes to the opportunity to advise a collegiate chapter gives alumnae members the unique experience of connecting with their younger collegiate sisters. To ensure you are providing the best guidance to your sisters there are a few things you can do to prepare for your role. 

Know Your Role and Resources 

Expertise is not a requirement to volunteer, however, you may feel like an expert before too long. Familiarize yourself with the policies and procedures related to your role. Organize your resources so they can be easily accessed, you won’t know every answer to every question right when it is asked, but you can ensure a quick answer by knowing where to look. Oftentimes there will be additional chapter advisors or inter/national volunteers that can provide support and assistance in the case where things are unclear or the answer isn’t easy to find. Keep track of who you can easily reach out to in a pinch. 

Coaching Today’s College Student

Perhaps the most important aspect of advising is the relationship between you and your advisees. It may feel easy to fall back into memories of your own collegiate experience, but it is important to try and avoid comparing your experience to that of the current collegiate members. Advising is not an opportunity to relive your chapter leadership experiences and enforce your own rules and ideas. It is a chance to aid and guide a young chapter leader as they grow and develop their own leadership style.

It may feel easy to fall back into memories of your own collegiate experience, but it is important to try and avoid comparing your experience to that of the current collegiate members.

The sorority experience continues to adapt and change, and as an advisor you have the unique opportunity to aid in the success of members. Goals and the methods we use to achieve those goals can look different from generation to generation, becoming familiar with the generational trends of Gen Z can help you connect with members and help them thrive. 

Connect with Members Early

To make sure the experience is enriching for both you and the collegiate member, establish your involvement level early in the relationship. While it is likely you will be working with some members individually, try to find opportunities to connect with the larger chapter membership as well. Being present and engaged ensures that members feel comfortable reaching out when they may need additional support and resources. Some members may prefer a more hands-on approach while others prefer discussion and conversation. When working one on one ask your advisee what an ideal advisor would be for them, don’t feel pressured to meet all expectations right away but be prepared to make goals for yourself. Building trust and actively listening early on will build a strong foundation for you to continue to work together. 

Guiding the Director of the Chapter

When discussing chapter business, be sure you are asking open-ended questions and encouraging goal-setting. Focusing wholly on the standard practices and policy can feel stifling and may lead to burnout in your leaders. If they are excited about a new event idea and the conversation focuses entirely on what they cannot do they may feel discouraged. Shifting that focus during your conversations to creatively tackling their role and any challenges they may face allows your advisee to express themselves more authentically and grow more confident in their position. If there are obstacles that you are concerned about, try rephrasing your concern as a question. An example might be an event idea that is more expensive than usual, rather than saying it is too expensive to explore as an option you can ask them what ideas they have to ensure this event stays under budget. 

Provide Feedback to Facilitate Growth 

Providing constructive feedback along the way can ensure that your advisee still finds success without feeling their voice is not being heard during planning and preparation. Depending on the member, you may find yourself filling roles you didn’t initially imagine, but do not be afraid to establish new relationships as you both grow during your time working together. Consider setting up monthly or quarterly meetings to check-in with your advisee to offer feedback and guide them through how they can improve and set goals before you meet again. This kind of connection not only helps the members grow but can help you as well. In this meeting, ask your advisee for constructive feedback to make this relationship an equal opportunity for growth.

You won’t be the perfect advisor from the beginning, and that is OK. Allow your advisee to see that you are growing along with her and want to be the best advisor that you can. Be confident in the fact that you are capable and have all the tools you need to succeed as an amazing advisor.

Written by Baelee Wehlburg

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