October 26, 2015

On the Road: Packing list of qualities, skills, and items

While this just brushes the surface, here’s my attempt at a packing list of qualities, skills, and items I have found necessary for my year on the road as an ELC:

fLexibility – each new day brings its own unexpected challenges; travel schedules change, flights are unpredictable, and day to day life is different at each chapter you visit, but the unknown is what makes the job fun!

Energy Drinks & Emergen-C – actual all-nighters are the norm during recruitment season but make for the best laugh attacks and some of the best memories.  

Adventurous spirit – sometimes you may find yourself needing to get creative on how to reach your destination after a long day of delayed and cancelled flights.

Dry shampoo –travel days and recruitment week’s call for a little help freshening up! You never know who you might meet on the road; Robin Thicke might actually show up to Alpha Phi’s bid day.

Earplugs – you may be put up in a freshmen men’s residence hall where wrestling and ping pong tournaments are the norm at 2:00 a.m.  

Raincoat – you may be assigned to a project without a car in a city where it rains 140 days a year.  Thankfully, Salem, OR has allowed me to see the beauty and peacefulness of rainy days.

Self-motivation – ELCs have to muster up energy to crank out reports, weed through endless Basecamp emails, create workshop presentations, generate names for COB, and make hundreds of crafts no matter the day. Seeing your hard work pay off on bid day or witnessing a young chapter make strides make every effort completely worth it.

Hats - ELCs “wear many hats” – I’ve been a vocal coach, choreographer, motivational speaker, computer whiz, accountant, event planner, marketing director, photographer…to name a few.

vIsionary – chapters often narrow their focus in on the details of bid day decorations or the color of date dash t-shirts, so ELCs provide the unique big picture and fresh perspective to ensure all decisions are contributing to the chapter’s long term success. 

Piece of home – my mother sewed me a travel pillow on the way to the airport when I started in July and while I work diligently during most flights, that pillow and photos of family and friends from home comfort me when I need it most.

Chill pills – the perfectionist in me has had to learn that taking the frantic approach is never effective. Sometimes you have to take a step back, breathe, and laugh (especially when it starts raining during an outdoor preference ceremony and the PNMs are covering their heads with napkins). At the end of the day, everything falls into place and it all works out, maybe just not quite how you imagined it.

Open space – in your suitcase for the tons of t-shirts chapters generously shower you with and open space in your heart to welcome all the wonderful new people you befriend on the road.

Nap time –sometimes you get lucky and are sent to a school with a fellow consultant and instead of pulling all-nighters, you take turns taking naps to get in a few ZZZZZs. 

Starbucks giftcards –for whatever Starbucks obsession you may have. I consume an embarrassing amount of birthday cake pops – just ask the members at Linfield.

vUlnerability – waiting for a stranger at the airport, stepping into a house of unfamiliar faces, and taking the reins and offering insight to an established team can be scary, but breaking down barriers, being honest and real, and letting your true self shine is the first step to being welcomed into the chapter as one of their own.

Love of Alpha Phi – the one cool thing I have in common with every member, officer, advisor, volunteer, staff member and consultant I work beside and the one thing that will forever connect me to all of these incredible women.

Thick skin – when you travel alone it’s especially important to bounce back and keep a positive attitude when the going gets tough.

Adaptability – each campus and chapter brings with it its own unique culture. While my roots are in the Midwest, this job has forced me to adapt to a variety of schools and regions from large southern sororities to small Pacific Northwest liberal arts colleges to the high intensity of an Ivy League and each new place captures this Nebraska gal’s heart.

Notebook – to record meeting minutes, make to-do lists, but most importantly to document the special memories made.

These and many more are the reasons I get up every day, pack my life into a suitcase, and travel the country for the organization I love. 

Courtney Cosler (Theta Delta - Creighton) is a first year educational leadership consultant. Learn more about Courtney by clicking here.

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