YOUNG ALUMNAE SPOTLIGHT: KRISTIN LAGRANGE
The following post was written by guest blogger, Jessica Storoschuk, Beta Gamma–University of Manitoba.
Kristin LaGrange, Delta Kappa–University of Alberta initiated into Alpha Gamma Delta in November 2011. She completed a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a creative writing minor, from the University of Alberta. She now works at the University’s Students’ Union, supporting students.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR JOB:
I have been the Program Lead of Student Group Services at the University of Alberta Students’ Union for a little over a year. Previously, I was the Assistant Program Lead for two years. I love collecting feedback from students on our programming. I’ve learned so much about designing program assessments. Getting the results makes it that much more fascinating and helpful, but I also love hearing from students on how we can provide better support and make their campus experience better. It is incredibly rewarding.
WHAT ARE YOUR THREE BIGGEST TAKEAWAYS FROM YOUR COLLEGIATE EXPERIENCE THAT HAVE HELPED YOU IN YOUR CAREER?
Self-confidence. When I first started university I was rather shy still, and I was starting to explore independence but in an almost overly cautious way. Alpha Gam gave me women to look up to and mentors, including our advisors, who encouraged me to try new things and gave me the space to make mistakes in a safe environment. Having difficult conversations, working in a team environment and committing to people and things other than myself helped me learn how to manage staff and volunteers at my professional career.
Resilience and patience. Sometimes changes, especially within academic institutions, take time. It is impossible to please every person in a group, so it is important to remind myself that I don’t and will never know everything—and I will always need to ask others for their opinions to stay relevant and useful.
Empathy. I’m constantly reminded through my work, and as an advisor, that I will rarely, if ever, have the full picture of someone’s life. I must lead with empathy and the understanding that others are the masters of their own stories and that I am only a supporting character in their narratives.
WHAT EXPERIENCES IN ALPHA GAMMA DELTA HAVE DIRECTLY IMPACTED YOUR CURRENT JOB AND HOW?
Coming in as Chapter President about a week before school and recruitment was hard. It was an emotionally charged time. About half of our Executive Council members were also new in their roles, but we pulled through as a team! We had a very successful recruitment and developed stronger friendships with one another. Being forced to improvise that semester helped me develop my personal conflict-management style, communications skills and taught me how to pull things together even when it felt like they were falling apart.
On an entirely different note, I have unimaginably, kind friends and mentors—Alpha Gams and other fraternity members alike—I can call on when I feel like I’m not making the right choices or when I simply need someone to talk to. They understand what it is like and I am so grateful for them.
HOW DO YOU LIVE WITH PURPOSE THROUGH YOUR CAREER?
One of the lines of the Purpose that resonates with me is “To welcome the opportunity of contributing to the world’s work.” I have a job I love to do—an opportunity many struggle to find. I also get to contribute to my community by working with student groups, clubs and fraternities and sororities. Working with different types of groups has taught me how to lead and give back to them. This, in turn, makes me think about “the talent of leadership multiplied.” Student leaders are innovative and clever. Sometimes they need to be nudged in new directions in order to make strides instead of tiptoeing around their bold ideas—something I help them do every day.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUNG ALUMNAE TACKLING THE JOB MARKET?
Don’t be afraid to put your sorority membership on your resume! Think about the times you demonstrated skills as a member that directly coincide with the tasks listed in the description of the job you are applying for. Think critically about what you participated in as an Alpha Gam and in other clubs. Time management, team work, volunteer coordination—all of these skills and more are hiding in those retreats you attended and philanthropy events you competed in. Passion, in addition to your qualifications, is what HR people/hiring managers are looking for.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE COLLEGIANS AS THEY MOVE TOWARD THEIR CAREERS? WHAT CAN THEY TAKE ADVANCE OF IN ALPHA GAMMA DELTA TO HELP THEM PREPARE?
Apply for scholarships and seek opportunities outside of your field of study. Broaden your horizons! Attend LeaderShape—the Alpha Gamma Delta Foundation has a scholarship for it. Don’t be afraid to change your mind about what you want to do. I never wavered from the degree I started in, but I know many people who changed their major and goals—sometimes multiple times—and they’re happier and more successful for it. If you’re drawn to explore another field and it feels right, GO FOR IT. You are absolutely allowed to change your mind.