Pre-professional organizations provide avenue for students to become invested in their futures

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  • Members of Phi Delta Epsilon, a pre-medical fraternity at the University, volunteer abroad in Lima, Peru, last January.

  • Members of Phi Delta Epsilon, a pre-medical fraternity at the University, host a fundraising dinner last October at the ARC.

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By Isabella Jackson

College graduates want to be the most competitive applicants to a position in order to get the job of their dreams. Members of pre-professional organizations on campus are actively working to achieve this through involvement specific to their majors or future plans.

When students start to navigate the professional world, there are many skills that are needed in order to secure a job, and campus organizations can teach these skills.

Joel Hood, senior in Business, is the president of Business Council, a pre-professional organization that hosts close to 120 events each semester.

“Part of our mission as an organization is to help develop our members. We have resume critiques, mock interviews as well as a ‘Professional Development Boot Camp’ hosted each semester to prepare our members for the intimidating career fairs and recruitment season,” Hood wrote in an email.

Michelle Lass, senior in Engineering, was last year’s president of the engineering fraternity Theta Tau.

Lass said when a new member joins Theta Tau, they learn how to set up a LinkedIn account and write a strong resume.

“A large number of our meetings will have little presentations about a professional skill; this week we had a workshop on how to perfect your elevator pitch put on by one of our brothers,” Lass wrote in an email. “Theta Tau also holds information sessions and networking nights with a wide variety of companies.”

Those who want a future career in medicine know that it has become increasingly more competitive to secure a spot in a medical school.

Michael White, senior in LAS, is the president of Phi Delta Epsilon, the only pre-medical fraternity on campus. 

He said Phi Delta Epsilon works to help its members stand out from other applicants by choosing passionate and capable people who have experiences that make them multi-dimensional and able to solve problems in many ways.

“We have speakers every semester talking about medical professions besides just being a physician,” White said, “We try to provide a comprehensive and holistic view of what’s ahead for pre-med students.”

For example, Phi Delta Epsilon recently hosted an epidemiologist from Champaign County who talked about potential research opportunities and career paths dealing with the spread of diseases, including the mumps outbreak that has recently impacted the campus.

Cara Warning, junior in AHS, joined the Pre-Physical Therapy Club after she changed her major to kinesiology following her freshman year. She said joining the club has helped her make a smooth transition.

“As a pre-professional organization, we are mainly looking to prepare for continued schooling as well as get a better grasp of what our future career entails,” she wrote in an email.

Like Phi Delta Epsilon, Warning says that the Pre-Physical Therapy Club gathers once or twice a month to meet with graduate school representatives and physical therapist panels in order to give its members information about future careers.

“Through these events, our members are able to prepare as necessary to meet requirements for PT-school and beyond,” Warning said. “We can hear firsthand what different schools are looking for in applicants, and then can hear from physical therapists how these skills are actually used and needed in the workplace.”

Pre-professional organizations are also a great way for students to connect with others who have similar interests and goals.

“I chose Theta Tau because I was looking for more friends on campus, especially in engineering,” Lass said. “(Theta Tau) has all the benefits of an honor society as well as the social and philanthropic aspects that make being a brother a lot of fun.”

White said that in Phi Delta Epsilon, members of the fraternity look out for each other on campus and provide helpful information for others about research positions and other opportunities that would benefit a member’s medical school application.

When the work is done, Hood said Business Council members form close friendships by attending barn dances, hosting water balloon fights and trips to the drive-in movie theater.

Many of the organizations also devote considerable amounts of time to community service. 

White said Phi Delta Epsilon prides itself in being both service and philanthropy-oriented. Among its various service activities, the group raises money every year for the Children’s Miracle Network hospitals through fundraisers, volunteers at football games and with the Urbana Park District.

Hood said Business Council also commits time to volunteering at the soup kitchen, working with Habitat for Humanity and keeping the community clean through the Adopt-a-Highway program.

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