Congratulations! You are now an NHS adviser. At this moment, you are probably filled with a variety of emotions—from excited and anxious to overwhelmed and terrified at the thought of beginning your new role. Don’t panic! You are not alone. I must confess that years ago, I too (along with most other NHS advisers I know) was—and still am at times—in your shoes. You have lots of questions and are wondering what to do. Although I don’t have all the answers, I do have some basic tips to share based on my own experience as an NHS adviser.    

Adviser Greg Brooks with NHS officers at The Villages High School.

Tip #1: First and foremost, know that you can find an abundance of resources on the NHS website for all advisers, both new and experienced. For example, in the Adviser Resource Center, you can download the current edition of the NHS Handbook and take advantage of years of accumulated wisdom collected in a comprehensive manual; it alone can answer many of your questions with its detailed guidance for advisers in how to manage a chapter. You can also connect with other advisers across the country by joining the Adviser Online Community. No matter the question—selecting and inducting new members, disciplining and dismissing current members, brainstorming service project ideas—you can find answers on the NHS website. 

Tip #2: It goes without saying, but you need to remember: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Posts in the Adviser Online Community that begin with “I am a new adviser and I have a question …” always capture my attention. I make it a point to respond to those posts, especially the ones with few or no responses. Typically, these posts ask great questions. Someone who has the courage to ask a question deserves a response. The cliché is true—the only stupid question is the one you don’t ask.  

Tip #3: Find a mentor—someone who can serve as an experienced and trusted adviser. In my years as an adviser, I have found that it helps to have someone you can bounce ideas off of, someone who can provide support and encouragement when you need it the most. This may be a former adviser in your own school or an adviser in a nearby school. If you cannot find one locally, use the Adviser Online Community to find one—just identify yourself as a new adviser in Florida, for example, and ask if there would be an experienced adviser willing to serve in that capacity for you. Take advantage of the many digital tools that can support a connection with a mentor. Most NHS advisers would be happy to serve as a mentor—all you have to do is ask.   

Tip #4: Empower your members, especially your officers, by granting them a seat at the table, giving them a voice in chapter matters. As an adviser, you advise—you provide leadership and direction to your membership; but involving and engaging members in many of the particulars related especially to meetings and service projects will empower them and de-stress you. Giving students a voice in discussions and decision-making will also help them develop as leaders, becoming more confident in the process. You don’t have to do everything—develop the leadership capacity of your membership by involving them in chapter matters.  

Tip #5: Keep an idea journal. You will need to keep various records during your tenure as an adviser, but you should also have someplace to record goals, observations, inspirations, ideas for projects, and lessons learned. The journal can inspire creativity, motivate action, clarify thinking, develop ideas, and help you avoid similar mistakes in the future. Keeping an idea journal may very well help keep you on track to becoming a successful NHS adviser. 

Ultimately, be confident. Remember: You’ve got this! Take advantage of all the available resources, from personal interactions with other advisers to impersonal written guidance available online. Before you know it, you will find yourself answering the questions of other advisers.   

About the Author

Greg Brooks teaches social studies and is the NHS adviser at The Villages High School in The Villages, FL.