It’s been another hectic summer at the Executive Office, but students are back on campus, and it’s time to send our staff back out on the road. Over the last few years, the concept of staff training has been dramatically overhauled in the Expansion Department, and I’m excited to say that I don’t think we’ve ever seen a better prepared group of new Expansion Consultants.
When I started working at our office, training was a little different. We sat in a conference room for ¾ of the day, listened to other staff members describe their jobs, and were expected to figure a lot of things out on our own. We were walked through the basics of a chapter visit, who to email and what to say, and then we were out on the road. This summer, we shifted the focus. Instead of regurgitating information, we decided to actually do something useful. Most of the time our consultants spend out on the road will be on college campuses, and many of the campus based professionals they will encounter will likely work in the office of student life, or fraternity & sorority life. Why not take the training opportunities to THAT space? Why not learn in an actual campus environment?
So with some help from our partners at universities in-and-around Nashville, we did just that. We held an all day recruitment workshop at Cumberland University, going over the entirety of an expansion project, and how our staff can make the best use of campus space. We traveled to Vanderbilt University, where the staff in their Greek Life Office educated our new consultants on building relationships with campus based professionals, best practices for scheduling a campus visit, and how to work with their office to solve problems with chapters and colonies.
We spent an afternoon at Middle Tennessee State University, where Theta-Omega alum Donald Abels was able to lead a similar discussion with us, while also helping us to identify and address several of the problems within our own organization and how we can work on them together. We spent some time with Paul Wydra, an alum of Delta-Zeta at University of Missouri - St. Louis, who works directly with alumni at MTSU and spoke to our new staff about communicating with and engaging our alumni volunteers. Finally, we spent an afternoon at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, meeting with the directors of several departments on campus to discuss recruiting non-traditional and first generation students, involving fraternities & sororities in non-greek events on campus, and identifying key moments within a young colony that can either make or break the organization.
This type of on-campus education, coupled with the extensive amount of training we do in office, will definitely become a cornerstone as we work toward a more structured, course-like training program for all new staff. While our vision is to be able to create a program that is not only engaging and beneficial to all new staff, we know that the opportunity to meet with and ask questions of campus based professionals is an important part of preparing our staff to leave Nashville and build fantastic organizations across the country.