5 Tips for International Officer Candidates

Editor’s Note: This post was written and submitted by Sara Hwang, International Vice President for Division 2.

Serving as an International Officer has been one of the most impactful experiences of my life. When I decided more than a year ago to run for this position, I had no idea what to expect from the campaigning process or the office itself.

As we approach the deadline for International Officer applications on February 22, I want to share a few tips for campaigning and then some things we’ve accomplished over the past year. My hope is that, if you’re still deciding on whether to run, an inside look at what you can expect may help you commit.

Five things to keep in mind when campaigning this year at PTK Catalyst:

  1. People think you must have a certain type of personality to be an International Officer—outgoing, funny, personable, charismatic, etc. While these characteristics are great, they might not be defining traits for you. Just be yourself. Members will be able to tell if you’re faking it, so just show them how awesome you are.
  2. Remember to eat. Keep snacks with you to munch on between scheduled events. You’re going to be so busy that you won’t even realize you’re hungry.
  3. Ladies, make sure you stock up blister band aids and keep a pair of comfortable shoes with you to walk in. The Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center is a large place, and you’ll be on your feet a lot.
  4. Have an elevator speech ready—just a quick two- to three-minute introduction of yourself and why you want to run. You’ll be meeting with many members, and you won’t always be able to speak with them as long as you want.
  5. Have fun. I know you’ll have a packed schedule, but enjoy your time with fellow candidates and get the full experience.

It has been truly amazing to be at the pinnacle of student leadership for Phi Theta Kappa. There are many benefits of serving as an International Officer, and they aren’t always what you expect.

I think the moment of realization that this would be a unique experience came at the beginning of my term, when our team was contemplating what goals we should have for the year. We were asked to come up with a list of goals we wanted to reach, so we were thinking about how each goal would benefit the Society. Then, our coordinator asked us, “How do you as individuals benefit from these goals as well?” Our positions were not just to help the Society, but for our own personal development as well.

Our goals 2016-2017:

  1. Increasing access to membership: We worked with the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation to support the new Golden Opportunity Scholarship. Through handwritten letters to advisors emeriti, past regional, national and international officers, and others, we have supported 160 new members so far.
  2. Increasing communication: Through promotional videos and blog posts, we used student voices to tell our stories of membership benefits.
  3. Increasing engagement: For the first time, the International Officers teamed up with social media interns to increase social media engagement at the 2016 Honors Institute. Because of the event’s success, we are planning to continue this at PTK Catalyst 2017.

I look forward to seeing you all April 6-8 in Nashville, Tennessee, for PTK Catalyst, and I’m especially eager to meet our next group of student leaders. See you soon!

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