Whether you are a sorority woman or a member of an academic organization, leadership experience is a great thing to have. Leadership experience in college can translate well on your resume and help you land top notch jobs after college. How do you take the steps necessary to becoming a campus leader? Today we are going to chat about how you can do just that.
1. Evaluate Leadership Opportunities In Your Student Organizations
The first thing you should do is evaluate the leadership opportunities in the student organizations you are a part of.
Make a list of all your student organizations and the leadership opportunities that organization has that you are interested in.
For each of those leadership positions note:
- A brief description of what the leadership position entails.
- The contact information and name of the person who currently holds the position.
- When the organization holds elections for that position.
This list will help you decide where you want to place your talents by giving you a lot of options.
If you are not already involved in a student organization, join some that you can handle getting involved in and then come back to this part once you know how leadership in those organizations work.
2. Come Up With A Plan
Now that you know all of your options, it's time to make a concrete plan. You can hold as many leadership positions as you can handle, but it will be hard to hold any if you don't come up with a plan.
For each organization, list 1-3 positions you would want to hold in that club.
What is your plan of attack for getting to that leadership position?
Keep in mind, that not all of your dreams are attainable right off that bat. For example, in many sororities if you want to be a sorority president, you must first hold another sorority officer position. So if your target is set on sorority president, know that it will probably be a 2-3 year dream unless you have previously held an officer position.
Create a timeline for each of your organizations. What would you like to accomplish each semester?
Take a look at current leaders in the organization. What did their rise to leadership look like? You can either chat with them over lunch or just snoop around a bit on their Facebook profiles. Either way, you would probably be able to piece together a timeline of their leadership experience and what they have been doing for the organization to get their leadership position.
Think about the types of leadership positions you would like to hold. Different organizations have different structures. Some organizations have a small leadership circle, while others tend to have a lot of leaders. For example, most academic organizations have a small board of leaders while many Greek organizations have an executive board and many other chair positions under that executive board. Chair positions can be great stepping stones to larger executive board positions, so if your plan includes higher leadership in an organization, you may want to consider adding chair positions to your leadership plan.
3. Engage & Volunteer
Now that we know what our plan as a whole is, it's time to fill the time between now and when organization elections are held. Not all organizations elect officers in August/September, some elect officers in November and some even in January or April. It depends on the organization, and you should have noted that when you evaluated the leadership opportunities in your student organizations.
Go To Events
Leaders are active and engaged. Therefore, leaders attend a lot of events.
So take out your favorite planner and make sure that you note all the events in the organizations you want to be a leader in. You don't have to go to every single event but go to as many events as you can. Be sure that you are going to a variety of events too.
For example in a sorority don't just go to the chapter meetings; go to some intramural games (even as a sideline cheerleader for your sisters), sisterhoods, philanthropy events, etc.
This is a saying I often heard during my years in my sorority, and it is something I take to heart even to this day. If you want to get something out of your sorority or student organization experience like a leadership position, you have got to be ready to give more than you receive.
In my opinion, committees are a lot easier to join. Ask around to see if any leader in your organization needs a committee member. It doesn't even have to be the person who has the job you want. Start volunteering your time early through the use of committees and get heavily involved in them. Go to all the committee meetings and take pride in helping out with your time.
During my first semester as a sorority woman I joined the event planning committee. I helped plan our semi-formal that semester, and it was a wonderful experience meeting with the committee frequently and helping to plan the dance for my sisters.
Committees, like chair positions, can be a great stepping stone to officer position so don't hesitate to get involved with them.
Never Be Afraid To Volunteer Your Time
Often in campus organizations, things pop up. If people are asking for volunteers, your goal should be to step up and say yes (obviously if you have the time to do so.)
- Does the media chair need help creating a banner or flyer? Volunteer.
- Does the event planning chair need help cleaning up after an event? Stay and help.
- Does the president need someone to deliver some forms to the student life office while she is in class? Go drop off the forms.
As a student leader you will need to be selfless with your time, so take a note from student leaders and do that before you ever have a title. Volunteering all the time may seem like a thankless job, but trust me, someone is watching you. When you volunteer and complete tasks successfully without complaining think of it as good karma.
So often I would do things as a sorority woman or just a regular person that I didn't think anyone noticed at all. The times I spent going to events and getting to know women in my chapter weren't being ignored. Volunteer for the sake of being a good human and helping out people in your student organization and that will lead to great things for you.
4. Let People Know You Want A Leadership Position
Sometimes you need to be upfront with people.
Let people in your organization know that you are interested in holding a leadership position. Sometimes it takes more than action to let people know that you are interested. It's okay to make it known that you are interested in holding a position.
Often when it comes to leadership positions the main way you let people know is by filling out an application.
If that is not the case though, you may want to chat with people who currently hold the positions you are interested in and let them know that. The person who currently holds the officer or chair position can be a great advocate for you as a potential student leader.
You may also want to chat with the people who are closest to you in the organization. Let them know that you are thinking of running for a position so that they can start discussing that with other people, but more so with you. Do they think you will be an excellent candidate for that leadership position?
Chatting with different people in the organization, filling out the applications required, etc. are all great ways to let people know that you are interested in holding a leadership position.
5. Don't Neglect Your Other Responsibilities
I know that I am asking an awful lot of you as a person who is interested in holding a leadership position, but this part is so important.
Don't neglect your other responsibilities.
If you are attending a lot of events, but your GPA is in the trash because of it, you are not doing this right.
Leaders are excellent at time management. They can hold leadership positions while creating great friendships outside of their organizations and of course keeping up with their class schedule.
Many leadership positions even have a minimum GPA requirement, and that requirement is often higher than the requirement of belonging to the organization in general. In my opinion, it should be. As a leader, you are someone that your entire organization can look up to. To lead by example, you must lead in many different aspects of the college experience.
6. Don't Give Up On Your Leadership Dreams
Last, but not least, don't give up on your leadership dreams.
The first time you run for a leadership position, there is a good chance that you won't be able to take the position.
As unfortunate as that is to say, it's true.
There are only so many leadership positions, and chances are you may not get the one you want or one at all.
The best thing you can do is not give up. If you are offered a position that is different than the one you wanted, that's okay. Take the position, slay that position, and work harder to get the position you want next year. You may even surprise yourself because often people in your organization know your skills better than you do.
If you don't get any position this year, that's okay too. Examine the time leading up to the leadership elections. What could you have done better? How will you adjust your action plan over the next year to set yourself up for success on the next go around?
Bonus Tip: Be Prepared For Unconventional elections
Sometimes, things happen. Someone may step down from a sorority officer position due to sickness, someone may leave the Student Government Association due to their grades slipping, etc. In those cases, special elections are often held within those groups or even to the public.
This may not be a conventional way to a leadership position, but it can be a way to a leadership position.
If you see this happening, don't be afraid to step in and step up if you can handle the pressure of that leadership role.
Being a leader in your favorite student organizations can be such an awesome thing. To get to that space, though, takes a lot of time and energy. Create your action plan for getting involved and becoming a leader today so you can execute that plan during the school year and become the leader you want to become.