If you were a Girl Scout, you remember the fun of selling cookies, learning cheers, making crafts and going on camping trips. But what you might not have realized between the fun of earning your patches and starring in plays was that you were learning important life lessons along the way. I certainly didn't realize that all those Samoas could add up to a job in sales, or that all those hours spent making crafts for the community could lead a member of my troop to a life of community service. But that's the kind of change Girl Scouts is impacting in women every single day.
March 12 is National Girl Scout Day, commemorating the anniversary of the first Girl Scout meeting in Savannah, Georgia in 1912. Today, over 100 years later, the Girl Scouts organization has over 1.5 million girl members and 750,000 adult members working as volunteers. To celebrate the organization that has impacted and informed millions of girls, we asked the Fairygodboss team the greatest career lesson they learned as a scout. We also asked a member of the Girl Scouts organization to weigh in on how the Scouts has impacted her career.
And in case you still feel guilty about that extra box of Thin Mints you bought... read this and let your heart rest, knowing you were funding education. Thank you very much.
1. Surround yourself with supportive women.
"Looking back, Girl Scouts was my introduction to the concept of 'women supporting women.' Led by a female troop leader, every week a dozen or so girls came together to learn and grow. The Girl Scouts encouraged me to be self-sufficient, but also showed me the power of being a part of a team of strong women."
— Anna McCarthy, Account Executive at Fairygodboss
2. It's OK to be ambitious.
"I was 6 years old when I first joined the Girl Scouts. It was the first space in my life where I felt it was natural to be knowledge hungry, ambitious and achievement oriented. There was some of that happening within school, sure, but within limits — I could get all A’s, but was that really amounting to something bigger? Being in the Girl Scouts felt different. As I worked toward different badges, and especially ones that involved volunteering or taking some sort of action within my community (and not just in a classroom), I felt like the impact I was making and the skills I was acquiring existed on a very real plane. Simply put, it gives girls a sense of agency they often aren’t getting elsewhere, and I know I have carried that sense of my own possibilities with me ever since."
— Liv McConnell, Associate Editor at Fairygodboss
3. Collaboration is the key to success.
"I was a Girl Scout from Kindergarten to 8th grade, which is a lot of time to learn a lot of meaningful lessons. But the most important one that still follows me today is the importance of community and collaboration. Girl Scouts taught me the importance of belonging to and creating communities that are welcome to all, regardless of your socioeconomic status, personality, ability, race or gender. Although the Girl Scouts was a community of women, the lesson to create a inclusive and diverse community was enforced strongly. The second part, collaboration, went hand in hand with community. Girl Scouts was a space where we worked with our troop, we had fun with our troop, and we grew with our troop. I am still best friends with the girls that I was in troop 1709 with. In fact, we have a cheer that we all can still recite to this day. Girl Scouts was a time of growth and development, and today I still bring the importance of community and collaboration to my work. I believe that being able to create communities that are inclusive will allow space for more effective collaboration, which ultimately will lead to a better tomorrow."
— Marina Sideli, Marketing Intern at Fairygodboss
4. Likeminded individuals bring out the best in you.
"The Girl Scouts taught me the value of surrounding myself with strong women. By volunteering, selling cookies, doing community service projects and hanging out every week I learned how important it was to work with women who felt passionate about similar things and who were committed to making change happen. This helped me build up my own confidence from a young age and inspired me to work in a career where I can help other women every day."
— Samantha Spica, Partnerships and Communications Manager at Fairygodboss
5. Sell, sell, sell!
"Are you kidding? Selling Girl Scout Cookies taught me how to do sales — and it has turned into a career for me!"
— Romy Newman, President and Co-founder of Fairygodboss
6. It pays off to get out of your comfort zone.
"I was a Girl Scout in a small town in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky. Each year I set my goals higher than the year before, until I cumulatively sold over 10,000 boxes of cookies in 12 years. The cookie sale taught me to take risks and go outside of my comfort zone. I was incredibly shy, but over the years it got easier to talk to strangers (with my parents close behind, of course). My Dad encouraged me to sell cookies off the beaten path and I discovered there are loyal cookie customers everywhere; in addition to my neighborhood, yearly stops included the car mechanic, local jail, and recycling center. The experience of pitching a product, setting goals, and reliably delivering products on time are all critical business skills that I used every day when founding my first startup in college."
— Julie Sygiel, senior Director of Alum and Lifetime Membership, Girl Scouts of the USA, and founder of Dear Kate
7. Make things, keep track of your accomplishments and always be in the parade.
"The Girl Scouts taught me several things.
A. Selling Girl Scout Cookies prepared me for my side hustle. My job was to go door-to-door with a big colorful poster and a ball point pen (yes, door to door, alone, as a 7 year old… growing up in the 70s!). It taught me how to approach people, how to ask for a sale, and very importantly, how to upsell.
I would ask: 'Are you sure you wouldn’t like an extra box of Thin Mints for the back of your freezer?' It worked like a charm.
B. Be nice to old people. Many of my favorite memories as a Girl Scout involved visiting or making crafts for old folks. We’d go Christmas caroling at the elderly homes, we’d make crafts as gifts for them on Valentine’s Day, and we’d just have time when we would go and read to them. It was nice. I hope there are still Girl Scouts when I’m that old.
C. Make things. Girl Scouts was the weekly reminder that it’s important to make time to just make things for fun. I still have many of the crafts I made, including the broken ceramic egg that I painted and promptly dropped just before it was ready to be taken home as a gift for my mom.
D. Keep track of your accomplishments. In real life, you can’t expect a colorful embroidered badge when you finish a big project, but it sure would be nice. Instead, I make a point of documenting my successes on a Trello board and use the collection of wins to occasionally pat myself on the back (or to have an easy list to access when I’m job hunting).
E. Whenever you’re invited to be in a parade, be in the parade. You just don't get those kind of invitations later in life."
— Bernadette Sheridan, Director of UX/UI at Fairygodboss