Business fraternities prepare to welcome new member class

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By Pooja Deshmukh, Staff writer

Although social Greek life has its place on campus, the four co-ed business fraternities — Alpha Kappa Psi, Phi Gamma Nu, Phi Chi Theta and Delta Sigma Pi – have their own niche. Business fraternities are different from social Greek life, notably, their emphasis on professional development.

All four fraternities have three main pillars in common: professionalism, philanthropy and brotherhood or social. Professionalism is one of the most important aspects, but within the brotherhood or social pillar, students in business fraternities consider it important to build strong relationships.

Dhruvi Shah, sophomore in Business, joined Phi Chi Theta last semester and is now an active member. As a recent member, she said that pledging a business fraternity was a challenge, but it was worth the friendships she made.

“I think that the biggest challenge for me was time management because you’re trying to get to know other people, but you’re also trying to fulfill the pledge requirements and go to all the different events,” Shah said. “But I think that at the end it’s okay, because you’re doing it with 17 other people who become your best friends.”

Shah said she is now closest to her business fraternity members and considers them her family.

Zachary Blumberg, junior in Business, was mainly looking for a friend group on campus with the same interests when he rushed. He pledged Phi Chi Theta his first semester freshman year and is now vice president of communications.

“I had always heard the value of having a group of like-minded people around you, and I thought that within the College of Business I wouldn’t really get that unless I joined a business fraternity,” Blumberg said.

He said he now knows that joining a business fraternity is a great way to do that, but it isn’t necessarily the only option. One of the things he enjoys most about being in a business fraternity is being closely tied to the College of Business and also meeting a variety of people within the college.

Although business fraternities are a major time commitment, most members are also active in other student activities. Shah is involved in Enactus, while Blumberg is a member of the Association for Information Systems and OTCR Consulting.

“I’d say that the most important part of balancing your schedule in the College of Business is realizing that different organizations at different times of the year require different commitment levels,” Blumberg said. “For OTCR, I have semester-long projects, while (Phi Chi Theta) is very front-loaded with recruitment and interviews and things like that.”

When it comes to professional opportunities, business fraternities can provide members with a valuable network of connections in the business world.

All four business fraternities have corporate sponsors, and their members have gone on to work at nearly every major company that hires from the College of Business. Additionally, members’ professional skills are refined through events such as mock interviews, resume critiques and business etiquette lessons.

Peter Biondi, junior in Business and vice president external of Alpha Kappa Psi, said he was unrefined in a professional sense before pledging.

“I didn’t really have the skills required to succeed in the College of Business or professionally after that,” Biondi said. “And so my expectations going in were that I was going to be developed throughout pledge semester and the following semesters and not only help me grow as an individual, but also as a professional.”

Alpha Kappa Psi is the oldest business fraternity in the country, which accounts for a large alumni network. Biondi said the professional coaching and connections he received through Alpha Kappa Psi helped him land two accounting internships.

Similarly, an office visit to a Chicago trading company through Phi Chi Theta helped Blumberg explore different careers within his field of finance. He said he was able to get to know the recruiter and the company before deciding to go for an internship there.

The business fraternities also give opportunities within the organization to members starting from their first semester.

For new members, there are leadership positions available such as pledge class president and pledge chairs. For active members, business fraternities have various internal groups, such as consulting, investment banking and technology. The groups take on projects and provide members with real-world project experiences.

Because of the professional benefits that business fraternities are known for, their rush process — especially at the University — is famously selective. Shah, Blumberg and Biondi all mentioned a few qualities they will be looking for in applicants.

“What sets you apart from other applicants is if you can show you’re passionate about something,” Blumberg said. “It shows that you can give back to (Phi Chi Theta) in the future and bring that passion in for us. We’re a diverse group of people with various interests, so if you can bring something new to the table or dive into something we’re already exploring, we always view that as a positive.”

This upcoming week will be Shah’s first time interviewing on the recruiting side. She said that as an interviewer, she will be looking for applicants who want to join for the right reasons.

“They should want to give back to (Phi Chi Theta) instead of just joining for the professional aspects and then leaving,” Shah said.

Biondi said a quality he looks for is a willingness to learn.

“We want people who are humble, we want them to know that they’re here to learn and grow but that they’re also here to enjoy our company,” Biondi said. “It wouldn’t be very effective if people come in thinking they know everything because then they wouldn’t need us.”

The business fraternities’ selectivity compared to the sheer amount of applicants can be daunting, but Biondi said the process isn’t as intimidating as it seems at first.

“I went to three different information sessions, and I was mortified,” Biondi said. “But it’s really nothing to be scared of, the process. They may be intimidated because we’re already in the fraternity, but we’re really just trying to get to know them on a deeper level throughout the interviews.”

Blumberg advised nervous applicants to remember that at the end of the day, the interviewers are just fellow students.

“At times it can be overwhelming because we’ll be in suits and maybe try to play a little bit of a professional role, but it’s important to realize that it’s a time commitment for us to be there too and we’re not trying to keep you out of the organization,” he said. “We’re just trying to help you find the right place within the College of Business, and that means being completely honest about who we are.”

Blumberg said for some people, the right place is a business fraternity, while for others it could be an entirely different organization.

As for his plans for the upcoming semester, Biondi hopes he finally has the chance to give back to his business fraternity in a major way.

“I didn’t really have the opportunity to make any large-scale changes until I jumped into this role of vice president external, but hopefully this semester I can make some impactful changes within the chapter,” Biondi said.

Shah said she looks forward to seeing the new pledges grow and develop this semester.

“I think it’s really cool that they got chosen to be a part of this organization, and I’m really excited to see what they’ll do for it and how they’re going to change with it,” she said.

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