5 Things You Learn as an AFLV Intern
AFLV has been challenging my belief of what it means to be Greek since my junior year of college. From being an undergraduate attendee to serving as a graduate conference intern, I have always left #AFLVCentral looking at my responsibilities differently.
There are five things that stand out about my #AFLVCentral intern experience. At face value, they may not seem like the most glamorous activities, but follow me on this deep dive, and you will see why.
1. Communication is key.
#TeamAFLV has some semblance to the Secret Service. You have an earpiece, you’re communicating in secret, and you feel stealth. It’s cooler than any spy movie you’ve ever seen, but here’s some real talk on having an earpiece for five days straight.
- Your brain confuses what people are saying to you directly and what someone is saying over the walkie. Sometimes you just pause and stare into space, but in reality you are really just listening to the voices in your ear.
- Then there’s “phantom ear”—the endless sensation of sound vibrations lingering after you take the earpiece out at the end of the night. Okay, I’m being a little dramatic. The earpiece and the communication that comes through it is essential to the best-in-class experience AFLV is creating. We need eyes on a variety of areas all at the same time, and wearing our earpieces is our way of doing that.
- The large amount of communication that takes places in your ear alone keeps #TeamAFLV all on one page. It helps mitigate confusion in the midst of 3,800 people. The most transferable skill you can bring to any setting is the ability to communicate clearly and effectively.
2. Rounds are an important opportunity for fellowship.
My graduate student readers, this one’s for you. Doing rounds until 2 a.m. in multiple hotels after a long day may feel like the least educational practice ever in the moment. News flash: you’ll end up loving it.
- During rounds you’re paired with another graduate staff member and embark on a journey together. In between assertively addressing issues on the halls, you’re getting to know the person walking with you. You tell each other stories, ask questions about roles and responsibilities, and listen to someone who has lived a completely different life than you.
- The conversation doesn’t just make you laugh or provide a mobile venting session; it provides you an opportunity to build relationships with the people on your team. Better relationships equal a better time and enhances the productivity of the work left to be completed throughout the week.
2. Every piece is important.
If a puzzle is missing a piece, it’s not complete. You cannot see the entire picture, even with just one missing piece. Being part of #TeamAFLV is about being a piece of a giant strategic puzzle.
You are essential to making the vision come alive. Some attendees don’t always realize the work you’re putting in, but the rest of the team definitely does. Your presence and wellbeing are essential to the longevity of AFLV. Everyone needs a team player who knows what role they play and why it’s valuable.
4. The crowd will always match your energy.
Your energy is contagious. I learned that the interns’ energy transfers to full-time staff, which is then be felt by all attendees. Even in the most tiring portion of the week, you’ll hype yourself up because there is an experience to create. When I smiled and showed how much I enjoyed being present, people appreciated it. Attendees can relate to #TeamAFLV when they see the team showing up positively every day.
5. Change starts with one (or 14,000) step(s).
This might be the most important thing I say in this entire article. Being an AFLV conference intern is about more than just getting your steps in (although I took about 14,000 daily during #AFLVCentral). It is about being a role model and challenging the conventional idea of what it means to be a part of a fraternity or sorority.
This is your opportunity to showcase what it means to be a part of inclusive and accessible practices. This is why we exist. AFLV has taught me what it means to align your “why” and your values with those of an organization. Many of you will go on to be experts in all fields, but an AFLV internship will teach you how to make systemic change and be part of creating sustainable practices for generations.