Sorority recruitment teaches professional skills

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By Rebecca Kapolnek

As the school year winds down, internships, summer vacations, jobs and music festivals weigh on the minds of students. However, for the majority of the Greek system at Illinois, preparations for the upcoming school year and the impending recruitment season are already underway.

Moving back to Champaign a week before classes start and spending 12-plus hours a day in a sorority house without air conditioning, learning chants and dances might not sound like the best way to start off a new academic year. But for sorority girls on campus, this week, titled “work week,” is the beginning of the formal recruitment process.

Formal recruitment, the intense two-weekend event potential new members go through to join the campus Greek system, is not only a stressful time for the new ladies going through the process but also for the active members in the chapters who will be recruiting.

Seemingly endless chanting, screaming and dancing are utilized in an attempt to make each chapter stand out from the rest. If your chapter stands out, more girls likely write down your name and come back in future rounds. In the end, girls join whichever houses they connect with most. Without strong recruitment rounds, it’s hard to get a large new member class.

During my first year as a recruiter, the intensity of the week got to me, and it all seemed very daunting; however, now, as a more experienced member, I’ve learned different life skills and professional behaviors from my role.

During “open house,” or the first step in recruitment, a recruiter can talk to anywhere from three to four girls per round. Multiply that by eight or nine rounds per day, and we are looking at 24 to 36 conversations.

There are two days of open house.

That is a lot of talking.

Because of this, conversation skills are emphasized, and sororities have conversation workshops throughout the year.

Being able to hold conversations with almost anyone is a skill I attribute to recruitment and a skill I have been able to use in internship interviews, social situations and group projects. 

Conversation skills are not the only thing I have gained through sorority recruitment. The ability to keep a positive, upbeat attitude even in the face of rude girls, hot weather or technical difficulties is something equally important that I have also perfected.

When I graduate next year, I plan to use what I have learned to help me land my first job. While I know that not all of my qualifications can be attributed to my years of recruiting new members for Sigma Kappa, I can confidently say I wouldn’t be as outgoing and sociable without it.

The professional skills we learn while we are in Greek life do not go unnoticed when we enter the real world, and it has been proven that members of Greek organizations thrive in their futures. According to the Fraternity and Sorority National Statistics from University of Missouri-Kansas City, 85 percent of Fortune 500 key executives are fraternity or sorority members. Statistics like this show that Greek membership can help foster growth in leadership skills.

Recruitment can be an extremely long and tiring process, and, at times, I have wondered why I chose to continue with it. But in the end, I have been able to apply what I have learned to other walks of my life, and that makes it completely worthwhile.

Sorority recruitment teaches not only recruiters, but potential new members transferable life skills, and the experience should not be taken for granted. While it might seem like a silly process to some, communication, interviewing, impression and stress management are just a few of the many skills I learned from recruitment.

Through my experiences with formal recruitment, I have noticed negativity among sorority members, and this should stop.

While I, too, am sometimes guilty of having a bad attitude while recruiting, members of the Greek system need to realize that what they are doing will help them out later when they try to get a job — and with the economy the way it is, why wouldn’t we take all the help we can get?

As I begin to prepare for my last year of formal recruitment and start the daunting process of looking for a job, I will remember all that I learned through talking to hundreds of girls each year.

With all of the T-shirts, glitter and chants aside, formal sorority recruitment is a fantastic way to learn transferable professional skills that can be applied once we graduate. Without recruitment I would not be the communicator I am today.

Every member of the Greek community should take these experiences and apply them to their lives.

Rebecca is a junior in LAS. She can be reached at [email protected]