UI professional societies benefit job seekers

By Hannah Hess

Kevin Adams, senior in Business, spent his summer working as an intern for Magnetar Capital LLC, a hedge fund in Evanston, Ill. To his excitement, Adams was invited to return after his spring 2009 graduation for a full-time position as a fund control analyst.

“I heard about the internship through an active member of Phi Gamma Nu,” said Adams, president of Phi Gamma Nu, a business fraternity. “I really couldn’t have done it without my membership.”

Adams’ involvement in the 100-person fraternity put him directly on the route to career success but he acknowledges that benefits of rushing a professional fraternity extend beyond job-finding.

Phi Gamma Nu coordinates 20 philanthropy events each year, a handful of dances and even a trip to Chicago for a Cubs game.

Another career-oriented club, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, will take its members on an even longer trip – practically to the moon and back.

“We’ll be going to Florida in October to see the shuttle launched for the last Hubble repair mission, then hang out on the beach for a few days,” said the University’s chapter president Jared Daum, a junior in Engineering.

The club maintains a Web site with study guides and forums about the core classes in the aerospace engineering curriculum. Daum said joining the club was a great way to meet new people, especially for freshmen who had four years ahead in the department.

Alpha Chi Sigma, a professional chemistry fraternity, also offers its members a chance for interdepartmental socializing.

“You really get to know your professors on more of a personal basis,” said Calli Shapiro, vice president of Alpha Chi Sigma.

Shapiro, senior in LAS with a major in molecular and cellular biology, said many of her friends will be returning for post-graduate studies at the University thanks to letters of recommendation from Alpha Chi Sigma contacts.

“A lot of people get (teaching assistant) positions by knowing the faculty,” she said.

The chemistry fraternity provides its members a social calendar similar to that of most Greek communities – intramural sports, barn dances and semi-formals. Recruits also go through a pledge process.

“The professors pledge with the students and actually join the fraternity so it’s a chance to do some social networking in the chemistry world,” Shapiro said.

Another professional fraternity bases its membership criterion solely on academic achievement. To be a member of Alpha Epsilon Delta, a student must maintain a 3.2 GPA, said Vikram Goyal, senior in LAS and president of the club.

“We are a pre-medical honor society,” Goyal said. “It’s not restricted to pre-med; we have some who are professional dental or optometry.”

All members share the common goal of attending a professional health school. The society aims to pad its members’ resumes with hours of philanthropy.

“Volunteering is a very big deal for going into medical school,” said Goyal, and Alpha Epsilon Delta provides many opportunities to get involved.

Each society on campus seems to provide positive opportunities for its members, but sometimes hearing about negative experiences can be beneficial as well.

“When you are surrounded by people with similar interests and goals you can see the mistakes and challenges they face and learn from it,” Goyal said.