Have you noticed that we tend to only wear our Sigma gear when we are with other Tri Sigmas? Why is that?
What you do each day makes a difference. It may seem small and insignificant to you, but to the person you smiled at or supported it could have been life-changing.
But it also creates looming thoughts in the back of our minds about jobs, work experience and summer internships. It’s terrifying sending a fresh resume and cover letter to an employer who can mark you off in an instant, or change your future.
I’ve had this fear many times. I’ve spent hours applying for internships and programs, I knew I might never hear back from. I’ve written countless essays, and my work experience is practically branded into my brain.
And I’ve been turned down countless times, sometimes to programs I just knew I would get into. But as I look back, I wouldn’t have submitted one fewer application or sent one fewer email. Gritting through applications and ever-changing resumes has led me to Japan; Nashville, Tenn.; and now Lexington, Ky.
But I know the hardest step is convincing yourself that you do, in fact, have a chance at whatever you’re applying for. And this is especially difficult for women.
In a story published by The Atlantic in April, two seemingly confident news reporters shared their experience with self-doubt and disappointment. Even Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, said some days she still feels like a fraud.
The two anchors found shocking statistics. A Manchester Business School professor in England asked her students what they think they should earn five years after graduation. Men, on average, said they deserve $80,000 a year. Women, however, think they deserve only $64,000.
The story goes on to point out the clear confidence gap between men and women, and unfortunately I think we see it too often on campus. At a critical time when students should be looking at all possible opportunities, taking advantage of connections and thinking about the future, some women are shying away. Often, it’s simply because students are underestimating their own abilities.
When you come to college, one of the primary reasons you’re told to join a sorority is because of connections you’ll make to help you get a job in the future. Are we sticking true to that? Are we really encouraging our sisters to reach out to people, apply for positions and have the utmost confidence in their dreams?
I believe if we just began at the most basic step – the decision to pursue those opportunities – we would see more women succeed. Support your sisters, offer advice, send them links to programs you think they’d be good at and never let them think they’re not good enough.
Lexy Gross (Alpha Chi) is a senior studying journalism and political science at Murray State University. Lexy is a member of Honor Council for Sigma, the Murray State College Panhellenic Council President and the Editor-in-Chief of The Murray State News, a weekly university newspaper. Her blog “Why Be a Woman of Character?” regularly appears the first and third Wednesday of the month.
Our relationships come and go in this life, but that gal in the mirror is going to be with you for the rest of your life. Be kind to her!
Since 2002, I made my life about work, and work was what seemed to matter the most to me. It became my identity of who I was at that time. I even built my friend base through my professional interactions. I neglected to see that while I love working in higher education and helping others, it was only a job after all.
Fast forward 8 years through graduate school and a handful of moves up the professional ladder, I experienced a setback in my career where the work didn’t matter to me in the same way. I fell down, and to me that meant I failed.
But was my perception of failure realistic? I lost a great deal of confidence in the career decisions I made to that point. I thought that taking a step back would hurt my career and the brand I created for myself. Ultimately, it was my personal judgment of myself that created the feeling of failure, not the situation itself. No one judges you more than yourself, and I allowed my unrealistic idea of failure get the best of me.
No one understands the idea of redefinition after a perceived failure more than television host and comedian Conan O’Brien. After a short stint hosting The Tonight Show and a very public exit, he talked about his departure during the 2011 Dartmouth College commencement speech. At the end of a 20+ minute speech, he said, “The point is this … It’s not easy but if you accept your misfortune and handle it right, your perceived failure can become a catalyst for profound reinvention. It is our failure to become our perceived ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique.”
His words of wisdom resonated with me as I spent more than a year re-evaluating my purpose and identity as my work no longer became my world. It took a lot of self-reflection and inner strength to realize that I have much to contribute to society and the world around me, but I can do that while discovering what I enjoy outside of work.
This past February, I began speaking to college students about the idea of failure, perceptions around failure and how to cope when failure happens. My passion and interest in helping others with this particular topic evolved through this and many other personal and professional experiences. To me, this is the redefinition of my purpose while balancing a job, family time and personal interests.
Beth Fisher (Zeta Rho) has more than 12 years of experience in higher education, student development and event planning. She has served Tri Sigma in various volunteer roles including Collegiate Coordinator, Extension Director and currently serves as a College Panhellenic Coordinator for Region 1. Her column “The Success of Failure” regularly appears the first and third Thursday of every month.
In the two weeks since the Labyrinth Leadership Experience, I am still having trouble putting everything we experienced into words. I’ve told my best friends, little sisters and really anyone who could listen to me talk for an hour straight about what we did, but I never could find the words to sum up what it all really meant.
The Labyrinth Leadership Experience is more than the things we did (even though doing things like zip lining and serving at a local homeless shelter kitchen were amazing opportunities).
For those of you who haven’t heard much about Labyrinth, the group spends five days diving into the true meaning of our values, with each day focused on one value. It is through the Labyrinth that I gained new insight into our five values: wisdom, power, faith, hope and love. The experiences I had with 19 other incredible sisters from around the country helped me feel closer and more connected to our values and how I can live them in my everyday life.
I used to be aware of our values and prided myself in being a person who I thought lived them just by being who I was. After Labyrinth, however, I now find myself thinking, “How can I display (insert value here) today?” Not only have I just thought about how I can live our values, but I’ve gone to performing those acts, even though they are currently as small as giving an extra tip, or stopping by a child’s summer lemonade stand I would usually just pass. Even though the acts of living our values are small, they leave a large impact on the community, and I know they will lead to bigger and better things from both myself and my Labyrinth sisters.
I truly don’t think I would have ever felt closer to our values without the Labyrinth Leadership Experience. It took only five days to bring me closer to these values and to our founders who created this vision almost 120 years ago. Being closer to our values also brought our group closer than I could have ever imagined. It seems incredible that in five days we went from complete strangers to crying and hugging each other at the airport, refusing to let go of one another.
To anyone thinking of applying for Labyrinth: do it. I could write so much more on how the experience changed me; this is only the tip of the iceberg.
I would once again like to send a special thank you to the Foundation and the individual donors who made it possible for Labyrinth to be funded. Also, a special thank you to the selection committee for seeing something special in me and the 19 other participants. Finally, a very special thank you to our facilitators Chris, Allison and Michelle who led the group and helped give us the laughter, happy tears, insights and memories we shared.
Rachel Fenske (Epsilon Rho) is headed into her final semester of her undergraduate career at Minnesota State University, Mankato where she majors in applied sociology and minors in non-profit leadership. She joined Sigma in spring 2012, attending all the National Programming and taking on leadership roles in her chapter.
Now that you have reached out to the lovely new members of your organization, it time to take the somewhat scary step into talking with alumnae. I love getting to know a variety of alumnae; they can be a big asset for you.
Alumnae are great for many reasons:
1. Expertise: Take the time to sit and truly get to know alumnae. They know about pretty much any problem you could possibly have — be it a problem getting to know sisters or a problem showing commitment to your sisterhood. They have a ton of experience and are willing and ready to share that experience with sisters.
2. Involvement: When you become an alumnae, it can be difficult to find yourself involved in sorority life — you want to help, but you aren’t really sure how to go about helping your sisterhood when new people are in place. Asking an alumna for advice about your current situation will brighten her day and increase alumnae relations for your chapter.
3. They don’t focus on your past: All alumnae want to know is the person you are trying to be — so be the new person you are trying to be around them, and lots of good will come from your experiences with alumnae. Be the leader you want to be, the sister you want to be and the person you want to be.
If you let them, alumnae can become your biggest and best cheerleaders. Befriending alumnae can help you so much in your sorority life as well as your professional life, and contacting alumnae isn’t as hard as it seems.
To network with alumnae do the following things:
1. Go to events like homecoming and Founders Day: These events usually have the most alumnae participation. Introduce yourself to new alumnae and older alumnae, and just have a conversation with them. You will get to know so many new people with new interests.
2. Contact your local alumnae chapter: Visit sigmasigmasigma.org and find the contact information for your local alumnae chapter if you aren’t sure of the contact information already. Get involved by sending an email to the chapter thanking them for all they do, or finding their Facebook page and interacting with their updates. Before you know it, alumnae may be reaching out to you.
3. If your chapter doesn’t have a newsletter/website, consider stepping up to make one: Newsletters and websites are wonderful ways for alumnae to stay up to date with what is happening in your chapter. Making newsletters or websites can be very easy and take little knowledge of technical skills. Just find a free website builder or newsletter-making site like Weebly or MailChimp, get approval from your officer team, and start sending updates to interest alumnae.
I hope this helps you on your way to start seeking out and networking with alumna. It’s one surefire way to become a better sister.
Amanda Cross (Alpha Omicron) is a senior at the University of Central Arkansas where she studies sociology and minors in anthropology. Blogging is one of her many passions, and she writes loves writing for her own blog College is Love. Her blog Being a Great Sister normally runs the second and fourth Tuesday of every month.
“Trust is like an eraser. It gets smaller and smaller after every mistake.”
Whether you’re a collegiate or an alumna member, there may be a future Tri Sigma living near you just waiting for a word of encouragement.