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Opinion | Real world tools from Greek life

Emily's Antics

By Emily Eldridge
On February 7, 2014

As the guys run from frat house to frat house in their khakis and blue blazers and the girls circle around central quad with Longchamps thrown over their shoulder, one thing is for sure: recruitment season is in full swing. With almost one in four Miami University students affiliated with Greek Life, this time of year is stressful, hectic and sometimes emotional for many. Though Greek Life can often be stereotyped and stigmatized, it is an underrated resource that can help those involved prepare for the workforce.

As a sophomore or first-year, you are worried about all the wrong things: What is "top tier?"; "What fraternities/sororities should we hang out with?"; "Who should I take to formal this year?" Sure, these all seem important at the time, but as you inch closer and closer to graduation, different things are on your mind.

This all came to me when I took a business trip to New York City this past fall. I was with my boss and another co-worker. We attended a four-day workshop that taught consulting skills and a lot of other stuff that isn't really relevant. Anyways, being the youngest person in a room of HR executives and professional consultants was very nerve-racking.

There were about 10 round tables in the conference room on the first day. Instinct told me to sit with my co-worker or boss since they were the only people I knew, but that wasn't what I did. Instead, I took a seat next to Tina, director of HR at Northwestern Mutual and Janeé, head of L&D at Grainger. These were two very successful women and I was nervous.

During sorority recruitment you are put in this same situation. The person looking back at you may not be a powerful executive, but you have to make small talk for the next 20 minutes and actually engage in the conversation.

Being a sorority girl and having developed these social skills over time, I can now get to know a stranger in the time it takes to ride the elevator from the lobby to the 33rd floor. A lot of people may find this difficult. Talking to Tina and Janeé was just like talking to Katie M. the kinesiology major from Toledo who lives in Havighurst.

This also translates into exceptional interviewing skills. I have been told many times that a recruiter knows if he/she would consider hiring you within the first 90 seconds of a conversation. This is all based on the way a person dresses, acts and walks through the door. Oftentimes, sorority girls are criticized for being over the top and way too excited for recruitment or other events. But when applied to a job interview, these attributes may come in handy. The tone of voice and attitude of a prospective new-hire are going to make a huge impression.

Recruitment allows the men and women involved to perfect this "first impression" that we've all been told is so important. If we can shout and cheer at the top of our lungs at 8:30 a.m. after getting two hours of sleep the night before, we can definitely bring energy and eagerness into any workplace.

And lastly, those affiliated with Greek Life are better problem-solvers and are able to get things done and resolve conflict while still remaining cordial and polite. If you are a leader in an organization, you are often called upon to make quick and effective decisions.

But as a leader in a social organization like a sorority or fraternity, there is also the added pressure of making sure the waters remain calm. Essentially, you can't please everyone, but Greek Life teaches you how to be professional without stepping on anyone's toes (and if you do, you know how to mend any hard feelings).

It is easy to be patriarchal, demanding or authoritative, but it is another to get things done effectively while managing to maintain a peaceful work environment. Members of Greek Life learn these skills early on.

This translates into amazing leadership skills. Of the nation's 50 largest corporations, 43 are headed by fraternity or sorority members, which proves that going Greek really is a great decision.

More statistics on Greek Life in the workforce:

- 85 percent of the Fortune 500 key executives are fraternity or sorority members.

- All but two Presidents since 1825 have been fraternity or sorority members.

- 70 percent of the U.S. Presidents' cabinet members since 1900 have been fraternity or sorority members.

- 76 percent of U.S. Senators are fraternity or sorority members.

- Both women appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court were sorority members.

- Over 85 percent of the student leaders on 730 campuses are members of Greek-letter organizations.

- Since 1910, 85 percent of the Supreme Court Justices have been fraternity or sorority members.

- Nationally, 71 percent of all fraternity and sorority members graduate, while only 50 percent of non-members graduate.

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