A little over three years ago I set out on a journey as a reunion volunteer for my alma mater, Lake Forest College. Because of my leadership and success in that capacity, I was quickly invited to join the Alumni Board, where I immediately proved my stripes as not only a reliable and talented volunteer, but as a leader on the Board and became the co-chair of the Alumni Relations Committee.
At about the same time, I got more involved in the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce when I joined the Board of Directors and became the chairperson of the Professional Women's Council. My active involvement in the Board and leadership in the PWC, led to a nomination for the 2010 Business Leader of the Year. (I didn't win, but it was a huge honor to be nominated. Honestly.)
Somewhere along the way, I fell in love with alumni relations and discovered I had a talent for it too. That's not to say I haven't continued to love my Mary Kay business, but the volunteer work I was doing allowed me to stretch my muscles in a different way. In fact, one of the things I have most enjoyed about my Mary Kay business is also what I most enjoy about volunteering in alumni relations: building relationships. In my opinion, alumni relations comes down to relationships. Alumni who have positive and satisfying relationships with faculty, staff, and other alumni, are more likely to be more involved in their alma mater by attending events, volunteering their time, and donating their money. Building the relationships is key too all success.
As I've continued to evolve as a volunteer, I began taking classes in non-profit and volunteer management. I even seriously considered getting a master's degree in it. Who knows, I might yet do it. In the fall, LFC offered members of the Alumni Board the opportunity to attend the alumni relations industry conference in Chicago, on their dime. Knowing a great opportunity when I see it, I jumped immediately.
The conference was an incredible experience. I picked up many tools and ideas that I would love to implement with volunteer programs at LFC, but the biggest thing I learned was that there is no "one way" of doing things. Yes, there are best practices, but many ideas, implemented well, can succeed.
Late in the afternoon of the second day, I was standing at the hospitality desk speaking with my friend Tim (the Associate Vice President for Alumni Relations at LFC) about alumni relations employment opportunities when a man I didn't know walked by and said "Hey Tim! I see LFC is hiring!" as he pointed to the message board about 10 feet away. Tim assured him and me that wasn't true, but I was already pulling the lone job description off the board and discovering a job called Alumni Relations & Events Manager at Lake Forest Graduate School of Management (not affiliated with Lake Forest College, although many people believe them to be one-in-the-same).
And that was the moment my world changed. Reading over the job description, I just kept thinking "These are the things I do now as a volunteer! This job was custom made for me!" I put my desire for a position in alumni relations out to the Universe and the Universe answered in record time, just as had happened many times before in my life.
I applied for the job (with the help of the incredible Lake Forest College Career Services Center because I'm embarrassed to tell you how long it had been since I looked at my resume), had a total of 10 interviews with 8 different people, and tonight, I am thrilled to announce that starting Monday, February 14th, I will be the new Alumni Relations and Events Manager at Lake Forest Graduate School of Management!
Once again, when I put something out to the Universe, the Universe answers with amazing speed. I hope the Universe is ready for what I'm about to ask for next.