When you rush a Greek organization, members lure you in with promises of strong alumni connections and lucrative job/internship hook-ups (among other things). It?s true; one of the benefits of being in a Greek organization is access to the group?s national alumni network. Depending on the strength of your fraternity/sorority and the involvement level of alumni, this may be a minor boost or a major boon in your job search.
Take a look at the Famous Alumni section of your Greek organization?s website. You?ll probably see at least one alum in your career field. Keep in mind that for each big-name alum (think Dick Clark or Kate Spade), there are probably hundreds of lesser known alumni currently working in high-level positions within the organizations where you want to intern or work. An alum from your Greek organization is more likely to help you in your career endeavors than some random person that you reach out to. Connecting with an alum is a great way to gain insight into a particular career track or company, get insider tips on how to succeed in the job search, and potentially receive job leads. During this harsh economic climate, networking is more important than ever.
Here are some ways that you, as a college student or recent alum, can connect with older alumni for career networking purposes:
- Join your fraternity/sorority’s LinkedIn group:
Most national Greek organizations have private groups on LinkedIn. Your organization?s LinkedIn group is a place to share news, start discussions, and meet other members. Some fraternities and sororities have 7,000+ members in their LinkedIn groups. With LinkedIn?s demographics skewing toward the 35+ crowd, joining a group like this will put you in contact with a number of well-established, mid-career professionals with many connections of their own. But it?s not enough for you to sit passively in the group; you need to be assertive and proactive! Post in the discussion section.For instance, you can introduce yourself as a college student and ask about breaking into a particular industry. Additionally, you can send private messages to any group members who interest you; maybe one of your fraternity brothers or sorority sisters is working at your dream company. This could be a chance to reach out, forge a connection, and gain some valuable information.
- Look into formal career networking offerings developed by your national organization:
Many Greek organizations have their own online communities specifically meant for networking. Others host leadership development programs for active and alumni members to attend. I’ve also heard of Greek organizations setting up regional gatherings for members in similar career fields to connect. Call up your national office and ask them exactly what you should be doing to tap into alumni networking opportunities with your organization.
- Attend alumni programming at your chapter, and actually talk to the alumni:
When I was in college, I had a hard time approaching older alumni at Homecoming and other such events, partly because I felt that I had little in common with them and partly because I did not know what to say. My best advice is to get over this as fast as possible; you never know what kind of opportunities might spring up from a chance conversation with someone.Alumni really enjoy talking to collegiate members, and you probably have more in common than you may think. On a related note, if your chapter is planning a larger, more formal alumni event, you may even want to do research beforehand and find out who will be in attendance. If you can identify a few alums (based on career field) with whom you?d like to speak, come up with some talking points to get you through the introduction phase of the conversation. While I am a huge proponent of online tools like LinkedIn, being comfortable with face-to-face interaction is so much more important.
- Tell the other active members of your fraternity or sorority about your career ambitions:
You never know who may have a parent or cousin or neighbor or friend working at the company where you want to work! Networking is ultimately about relationship building.
Above all, remember to be genuine and respectful in the way that you connect with people from your Greek organization. If you are considerate of others? needs and you aim to create mutually helpful relationships, networking with members of your fraternity or sorority can be a very rewarding and beneficial experience.
Dan Klamm is the Outreach & Marketing Coordinator for
Syracuse University Career Services. Connect with him on
Twitter @DanKlamm and read his Career Blog for College