“Why do you still do that?” “Doesn’t that end at college?” “What do you even get out of it?” “Aren’t you focused on your career?”
I’m barraged by questions from people all the time about why I stayed involved with my sorority, Alpha Gamma Delta. Over time, as I hear these questions, I wonder why anyone stays involved in any organization. When you take the time to consider potential reasons, there are always a few key factors that transcend the type of organization. There are also personal reasons to consider for maintaining for our specific organization memberships or friendships. Let’s explore why, and maybe you’ll see an opportunity for -you to become engaged with organizations that fill you with passion and happiness.
The organization you maintain a membership in certainly does not have to be a sorority. It may be an alumni organization, community group, event committee, or professional development organization. What matters is that you can answer those questions at the beginning of the post, and something like them, easily and with conviction. Find what is important to you with your goals and desired outcomes, and go meet others and do activities that make you feel similarly to the what the following list describes.
The primary reasons I feel strongly about extending effort to remain involved with an organization I joined as a 19 year old include improvements in my life in terms of happiness, opportunity to develop skills, and ability to impact the community around me. For what I give to this organization, I feel like I get back at a level one hundred times higher. The old adage that “you get what you give” fails to consider multipliers that make giving consistently and cheerfully rewarding at a level that is difficult to comprehend, even when you are benefiting in the moment! The beauty of this opportunity that even though I am a part of Alpha Gam for personal reasons, it has helped my career, as you will see below. This is part of why I was inspired to write my book, Greek Letters to Career Ladders, coming out next month – to share why sorority can impact career opportunities in all of the right ways.
The list below shares some of the main reasons and benefits for why I choose to dedicate time, and energy to Alpha Gamma Delta. As you read, think if there are there organizations or causes from which you would like to feel similar benefits.
- Happiness through relationships. In addition to the evolving relationships that started during college, I am lucky to experience happiness from new friendships that become established as I stay involved. My friendship opportunities are no longer bound through geography, but I’ve developed friendships in Florida, Indiana, California, New Jersey, Kansas, Washington (the state), and everywhere in between. It broadened beyond my own college network of people who were also engineers and scientists, so now I learn from and spend time with lawyers, teachers and professors, consultants, stay at home moms, entrepreneurs, and marketers. My world of relationships becomes richer by sharing ideas with smart, talented, ambitious, exciting women who have a lot to share and give with others. By participating in work groups, committees, taking on volunteer roles and actively participating in events, spending time with these women strengthens the bonds.
- Happiness via the opportunity to do good for others and for self. Through roles that focused on developing leadership of others and now on philanthropy and community service, I can see the good I can make in the world around me on my own, with help of others, and through others. This membership reminds me to be the example I would want to seek on my own, and that many women possess aspects of who I want to be and as a collective makeup that example. My happiness is achieved by knowing the good I seek and do can be multiplied by working with others.
- Growth opportunities in developing skills that transfer back to the workplace. Surprising to many, I’ve been able to develop transferable skills that I could share through stories in interviews. There was a time in my career that I couldn’t get the experiences I was asking for in the workplace, so I used my Alpha Gam leadership roles and volunteer efforts as a conduit to improve skills and abilities. I was able to share stories of challenge and success and explain my leadership competence to earn a position that changed my life for the better.
- Impact in community locally and around North America. Through my new volunteer role as a member of the International Philanthropy Committee, I have the opportunity to work strategically with a group of women who want to fight hunger and help others fight hunger. I’m also volunteering locally in organizations that share this mission to eliminate hunger and serve those who need help, so I feel like I can not only give my hours and energy but helps thousands more women do the same. Previously, I was volunteering in a leadership development role to help college women implement their goals to make a bigger impact in their chapter, their campus, and community.
- Learning about values and defining what is important to me. For most humans, coming of age and gaining adult responsibility is a difficult emotional time. While you are finding your independence, you are discovering what is most important in life. When I was having a difficult time defining what was important to me after college, the purpose of Alpha Gamma Delta was something I could easily refer to for guiding me when I didn’t know what direction to go in. Over the past decade, I’ve used that foundation to mold my own unique set of values, and having that starting point to work from allowed me to more confidently chase dreams and interact with others in a better way.
- A sense of belonging to something bigger than me. That very same purpose that defined values also connects me to over 189,000 women who have said it themselves many times, in college and beyond. When I speak with sisters who were initiated in the decades before me, I feel connected to them and those who came before us and truly a part of something bigger. Knowing some history of Alpha Gam and the accomplishments of some members reminds me that while much has been achieved, there is still more to accomplish, and we can do more of that with bigger impact together. As part of being a active member of an organization this size, I’m fortunate to find more role models and inspiring figures whom I aspire to be like, and hope that our younger members find inspiring for their own lives.
- Fun! Despite the volunteering entailing some actual work, I have fun working with Alpha Gam. This is key for any long term commitment to be successful and rewarding for anyone involved, including personal relationships as well as those with organizations. Whether attending local events or biannual conventions, I enjoy the time with my sisters, being inspired by what they are accomplishing, and the mission to serve each other and the world around us.
So why do YOU stay involved in organizations for so long, or desire getting involved? Do you see an opportunity to become involved in something you wouldn’t have considered before after reading the benefits? For overall involvement, factors like the relationships and connecting with other people who share the same values, vision, and purpose make it easy to stay engaged. For my own relationship with Alpha Gamma Delta, what matters is it feels like I get more than I give, and I make a concerted effort to give my time and energy to an organization that helped me grow and develop in ways I didn’t even imagine possible. I hope you have or will find a group in your life where you feel like this. We can’t do everything alone, but together much more can change us as individuals and what we can contribute to the world.
What do you think you will do to better yourself and the world in getting involved? What type of missions are you pulled to engage with? Do you also get questioned about why you stay involved with certain organizations?