One of the great things that Linfield offers is the abundance of leadership opportunities for students. With that said, a large number of students do participate in different areas of leadership, for some, in more than one area. In my case, I hold leadership positions through my sorority and the Linfield Review. However, I know of other students who take on even more responsibility, juggling three or more positions and balancing school work and a social life. I commend these students on their dedication and effort, but the important thing that they need to realize early on is when to keep it professional. It is also important to distinguish when it is appropriate to be oneself and not the face of whatever position or organization that one is representing.
For me, I am the face of the Review, but I also represent my sorority. This can be tricky at times because I have an obligation and loyalty to both. This means that I have to pay special care to keep them as separate as possible, unless an event does come up, which would require reporting on. And, even then, I cannot be involved in that process because it is a conflict of interest. I know of others who are in the same boat, and it is always difficult getting some peers to understand one’s views and distinctions. Compartmentalizing is an awesome skill to practice, but for some, it does require more effort than for others. For instance, it is something that I understand is necessary, especially in my line of work, but I have to constantly remind myself of. Just because one does not agree with a professional decision, does not mean it has to affect one’s views on that person as a whole.
As far as professionalism goes, a student who represents a certain organization or position should always keep that in mind when it comes to making practical decisions that would reflect on that particular organization. However, it is also important to maintain a balance. All work and no play is never ideal for anyone. So although making good decisions is always important, it is also crucial to maintain one’s sense of self. This is an adventure that I have started on and it is only going to continue to be a learning process, as it is for most everyone.
Taking on a leadership role is often a learn-as-you-go endeavor. So, making sure that one is mentally prepared to tackle all of the good and the bad that comes along for the ride will only help to ensure success in the end.
Jessica Prokop can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.