Posted on May 25, 2016
By Andrea Wade
MEMPHIS, TN - Around Pi Kappa Alpha Memorial Headquarters, chapter consultants are known as road warriors, and they can tell you best how the role measures up to the name. Gain perspective through the eyes of four men and their experiences during the 2015-16 academic year. Together, Devon Teixeira, Jared Mayo, Josh Atkins and Tanner Olson highlight their experiences and realities as front runners for the Fraternity.
1. What interested you most about being a consultant?
Jared - Networking and the opportunity to travel appealed to me a lot. My experience with Epsilon Epsilon was college to me; there’s no separation between the two. I wanted to carry the knowledge I gained during my time as an undergraduate to other chapters.
Tanner - I always thought my consultants were extremely cool. They had a big influence on my chapter. I can say that we went from being mediocre to successful because of the outside help we received. Also, I wanted to see a different area of the country than where I went college. I asked for a portfolio in the southeastern states. As a consultant, you have the opportunity to rank regions you may be interested in. I was curious about chapter lifestyles that were different than my own.
2. Is there a difference between how you viewed the role of a consultant before your term compared to now?
Josh - Absolutely. After being in my position, I see the first-hand benefits of maintaining communication with a consultant. Some chapters have this idea that we visit to “tell on them” or make their lives harder. In reality, it’s the opposite and we’re available to be a resource to grow the Fraternity.
3. How would you describe your personal approach when communicating with the chapters?
Jared - To combat hesitancy toward me, I would host an exec meeting as soon as I arrived to set the tone. In those meetings, I would try to be as candid and casual as possible. I would make sure to relay that I was there to help and work for them. First and foremost, I wanted them to define their success as a chapter. That way, we could establish the tools they needed for improvement. I also wanted them to know I wasn’t that different from them. I would say, “Hey, I’m 23 and just graduated from college last spring. I know where you’re coming from.” In my region, I tried to be relatable. Different areas of the country have different ways of doing things.
4. Compare your first visit to your last. What has been your biggest growth?
Tanner - I had a lot more tools in the toolbox that allowed me to give more effective advice. For example, when I met with Florida State, I learned they had a strong alumni/ undergraduate mentor program. After that visit, I made sure to mention that tool to other chapters to improve alumni relations.
I also thought everything had to be extremely formal in the beginning. I thought every meeting needed to be discussed over a meal but, that’s not the case. It doesn’t have to be orthodox to be productive.
5. Tell me about any significant relationships or friendships you’ve gained while traveling as a consultant.
Jared - My time in Mobile at South Alabama stands out to me because the advisor, Ric Savadara (Southern Mississippi, Delta Mu ’75) showed me around Battleship Bay. I learned so much from him because he has been all over the world and he is a super cultured guy.
6. Tell me about a time you visited with a chapter that will always be memorable to you.
Devon - Detroit was one of my favorite visits. Michigan State in East Lansing was an awesome college town. Pittsburgh was memorable as well because I had a lot of free time and was able to explore the city. I really like to get a feel of each town when I visit, so it’s a plus when I have downtime to make footprints in each town. Also, I got to attend the Notre Dame vs. Pitt game. I’ll never forget that.
Jared - Instead of just one chapter, this applies to each of them. No doubt, gaining cultural experiences from each university’s area will always be memorable. Not all of the consultants would agree, but I never passed up an opportunity to grab some local food in fear of gaining five pounds or so. I was placed in the south. I didn’t want to look back on my time as a consultant and regret not visiting local places. I know now that if I’m going to Virginia, I can’t go without stopping in certain barbecue joints as an example. It’s all part of the experience. You can lose five pounds in a week. I may never get the chance to be in those places again so I wasn’t going to cheat myself.
7. Has serving as a consultant had any impact on what PIKE means to you?
Josh - I have gained more appreciation for the Fraternity. I met many volunteers, members of the Supreme Council, etc. Each man and woman that keeps our Fraternity going plays a significant role to its success; it’s like a domino effect. Without these leaders giving up their time for the benefit of PIKE, we wouldn’t be successful.
8. If you had an overall message to relay to each of the undergraduate chapters, what would it be?
Jared - The biggest piece of advice I would give chapters is communication and preparation are your biggest tools for success, especially between exec members and the chapter. It’s also important for them to establish what they define as their chapter’s purpose. They should ask questions such as what are you most excited about when you come back to your chapter after summer break? What’s keeping you motivated?”
Also, listen to your consultant.
Devon - Take your time in the Fraternity seriously because it will prepare you for your next phases in life.
9. Did you go into this term having any personal goals as a consultant? What were they and did you achieve them?
Tanner - I had two main goals. As a personal goal, I wanted to maintain my fitness on the road. It took a lot of determination, but I did it. Staying healthy is important to me so I wanted to keep that as a priority. I took advantage of each chapter’s town or campus to use their local gym or run trails in my downtime. As far as visits go, I wanted to make sure I made a tangible difference in each chapter. I wanted to leave it better than I found it in some way.
Jared - I wanted every chapter to learn that consultants are a resource for them. I wanted them remember the experience they had with me and carry that positive experience into their next consultant visit. I wanted to be able to begin or further grow a working relationship. If nothing else, I wanted them to know I was passionate and there to help.
10. What was your biggest challenge?
Tanner - For me, I had to constantly remind myself to stop and smell the roses, and sometimes that meant literally. That may sound cheesy, but scenery really contributes to the depth of my experience. People say they want to drop everything and backpack across Europe but, I say, “What about the United States?” I took into account that I may never have the opportunity to visit areas like Florida and Georgia again. I take comfort in knowing that I’ll always be able to visualize places like St. Augustine, Flagler or Fort Wright because I took the time to be present instead of letting my time in those places pass me by.
11. What are your post-consultant plans?
Devon - I am fortunate to be able to continue being a part of the PIKE staff as a team member for PIKE U. My goal is to grow my resume and help mold better men. I have made such a strong network and want to continue doing that.
Josh - I just got elected as my chapter’s advisor so I’ll be heading back home to apply what I’ve learned on the road to those guys. I’m looking forward to continuing my PIKE experience.
12. Do you have advice for incoming consultants?
Jared - (Laughs) There’s a million things. Utilize your consultant brothers; they are your resources, your escape and best friends.
If you get any opportunity to do laundry, take advantage of it.
Make sure you’re not oversaturating yourself. They tell you that during your training but, it was a challenge for me. After working many late nights, I would get back to my room and set aside an hour or so to work on them because I knew I needed sleep. If you’re not careful, you can fall behind and start to get overwhelmed.
Tanner - During your visits, you’ll realize that you can be surrounded by people so it feels extremely social, but make sure you’re taking time out to keep up with your friends and family back home. You’ve got to maintain that connection for yourself. Time change and a packed schedule will play a role in your personal life; it’s up to you to pick up the phone and make calls to people you care about.
Josh - Keep an open mind. Your role is to help, not hurt. You have the resources so implement them.