3 Ways You’ll Benefit from Seeking International Office

Editor’s Note: This post was written and submitted by 2017-2018 International Officer candidate Moon Detering, now an alumnus of Portland Community College in Oregon.

Each year at PTK Catalyst, Phi Theta Kappa members gather to celebrate our hard work in making society a better place. If you take it one step further, running for office during PTK Catalyst is a wonderful journey of self-discovery that allows you to reflect inwardly but also polish your people skills.

As a former candidate, I encourage you to run for office at PTK Catalyst 2018. Regardless of whether you are elected, you will benefit from this incredible experience in a number of ways.

You’ll Become a Better Person

Running for international office makes you a better person. I know this because the first time I read the candidate guidelines, my whole heart and mind told me that if I wanted to be qualified, I would have to become the person in the guidelines. It challenges you to spend some time discovering yourself; and when you ask for recommendation letters from your advisor and instructors, it’s a real self-realization moment.

I am grateful to my advisors, DeLinda Martin-Huggins and Mandy Ellertson, and to Dr. Michael Santlanor, who wrote my letters of recommendation. Sometimes you don’t realize the qualities you possess until you see yourself through your advisors’ eyes. The more compliments you receive, the better you want to be — because PTK is a place where individuals reach and go beyond their potential.

You’ll Become a More Professional Person

Running for international office offers unique professional training that will prepare you for a career. You will learn how to promote yourself to more than 4,000 intelligent people. You will have an opportunity to speak in public and dress and behave professionally throughout this challenging campaign.

Running for international office has made me a more professional person. Candidates receive guidance from staff members, who walk you through the process step by step. After I had my headshot photo taken and attended the pre-convention training and webinars, I immediately started to feel more confident and professional.

Once you arrive at PTK Catalyst, you’ll find yourself in the spotlight at the live Candidate Caucus interview. Everyone in the audience focuses their attention on you, and every one of them wants to get to know you. Although you don’t know the questions in advance, you’ll see that every question gives you a chance to succeed.

You will have so many opportunities to meet fun, brilliant, and inspirational individuals — fellow candidates, voting delegates, and members from around the world. In the end, they all become your friends as you get to know them and talk with them face to face.

You’ll Become a Leader

You will also bond with your own campaign team. When you start to tell people you’re running, friends volunteer to campaign for you. My campaign manager, Chelsea, advisor, DeLinda, and campaign team were my biggest supporters. I was so honored that all four Portland Community College campuses and our Rocky Mountain-Cascade Regional Officers collaborated.

These people will sacrifice their time, efforts, and energy unconditionally to help you. If you are dedicated to running for international office, you will also find others who will support you even though you haven’t met.

Even if you decide not to run for international office, I hope everyone seeks out leadership opportunities in your own community, regardless of what they are. Self-discovery comes with self-improvement, and we cannot have self-improvement if we are focused inward. It comes when we focus outward, engage with others, and give of ourselves. Savor the challenges in life. Get on that bus — even if you’re afraid — work hard, and go for it!

If there is an opportunity, it is always wise to take it. Take both the successes and the failures, because failures are not endings, but opportunities to improve. Remember that here at PTK, we are all cheering you on.

Learn more about the benefits of running for international office and view the campaign guidelines online. Applications are due February 21.

How to Raise Money & Gain Sponsors in Your Local Community

If you need to raise money for projects, events, or travel, look to your local community for potential sponsors and partners. Courtney Taylor, Director of Annual Giving and Stewardship for the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation, offers advice for building relationships with local businesses and fundraising.

Networking is key, so start there,” Courtney said. “Then brainstorm how to extend relationships in a way that’s beneficial for both the chapter and the sponsor.”

She suggests that chapters do their homework first by creating a realistic budget and researching potential supporters. Here’s how you can get started:

  • Identify the stakeholders on your campus and in your community
  • Work with your college’s foundation office
  • Get to know your community (especially local employers)
  • Research donors and organizations in your area
  • Reach out to alumni from your chapter and other friends in your network

Once you’ve investigated the possibilities, it’s time to follow the Fundraising Donor Cycle:

Build Rapport (Rapport = communication beyond asking)

  • Share good news of what your chapter is doing
  • Listen (you’ll find clues on how you might collaborate)
  • Show off your strong work ethic and dependability
  • Invite prospective supporters to your chapter events

Ask for Support

  • Go ahead and ask — it’s not as scary as a Hallmark Deadline!
  • Cash and material donations can bolster your chapter’s efforts
  • Be specific about what your chapter needs and why
  • Don’t over-promise — offer contributors only what you can deliver

What If You’re Asking Administrators?

  • Do your homework
  • Be professional
  • Show your enthusiasm for the project
  • Think long term

Some Tools to Help You Organize

Don’t Forget to Say Thank you

  • Send handwritten thank you to EVERYONE including:
  1. Administrators
  2. Community leaders
  3. Participants on-site
  4. Volunteers
  5. Donors
  • Report back to stakeholders on the results of your project

How does your chapter raise money? Share with us and find the latest PTK news on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn; and subscribe to The Reach blog. Find more moneymaking tips online.

Set SMART Goals for College Completion in 2018

Each semester, the Upsilon Delta Chapter at Southwest Tennessee Community College (STCC) in Memphis rolls out its Commit to Complete banner for the students on its campus to sign. But this isn’t an empty pledge; it’s a SMART one.

The chapter’s unique pledge is actually a seven-question survey that asks students to make goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, results-oriented, and time-bound — SMART. Goals are incorporated by asking a student when he or she will complete a certain number of courses. Responses are multiple choice so the student has concrete options to consider, and the survey continues to ask questions that require setting goals over a longer range.

“Through this thoughtful process, we hope the student feels a strengthened sense of resolve and a determination to complete the steps ahead,” said Dr. Joan McGrory, chapter advisor. “We realized early on that we wanted the pledge to be meaningful. We wanted that student to think about the long game and have a play book to earn the win.”

The commitment campaign has been so successful that, in fall 2017, it became the chapter’s College Project. It is now a collaboration between the Student Affairs and Academic Affairs departments and is sponsored by the Upsilon Delta Chapter and the Student Development, Advisor & Academic Support, and Career Services departments.

“We are working together to promote awareness using the previous pledge and asking students who make the commitment to sign a banner that will hang on their respective campus locations to remind each student of their commitment and inspire others to join as we ‘Commit to Complete,’ ” McGrory said.

The college has also connected the campaign with its objectives as an Achieving the Dream college to improve student success and retention. From November 7 through December 7, 2017, approximately 400 students — 5 percent of the population — engaged in the “Commit to Complete” campaign, and leaders are expecting greater results this spring.

“We believe this is an excellent retention and student success initiative, and if we can gain the commitment of 10-20 percent of our student population to commit to complete during each academic year, our expectations for higher graduation rates will be met and, more importantly, students’ lives will truly be transformed,” said. Dr. Jacqueline Taylor, executive director of retention and student success at STCC.

The college also recently launched a new academic and career advising model that requires its advisors to engage students in the completion conversation. And, it is increasing its mentoring culture to spark completion conversations between mentors and their mentees.

All students who complete the pledge survey are entered into a raffle for one of two $25 gift cards to the college bookstore.

“My college degree is in speech and theater — theater mostly — and getting my degree will be an amazing accomplishment,” said Jonathan Dean, who received one of the gift cards. “I do my very best and try to work as hard as possible to show great dedication to what I want to achieve in the theater field. I know I can get there as long as I set my mind to what I want and prepare for my future.”

In 2017, the Upsilon Delta Chapter combined its “Pledge to Complete” campaign with another popular one: its “Spot a Kappan” challenge. For a week, members collect signatures from students who are current PTK members or who learn about PTK.