Students rush business for professional, social gain

By Christen McGlynn

As an incoming freshman during fall 2011, sitting in a room full of people dressed in business attire, Jane Sobczak did not know what to expect when she began her journey through Professional Business Fraternity Rush. However, the connections she has made throughout the past three years, she said, have fully prepared her for her future endeavors in the business world, and has ultimately led her to an internship at Ernst and Young for summer 2014, where she will be working in the Risk and Assurance Service line.

Finding somewhere to belong is a goal of many college students, whether it is for social or academic purposes. Professional business rush, which begins on Wednesday for Alpha Kappa Psi, allows students at the University to combine these two aspects. They are able to find wonderful people who can help shape their college experience, said Ann Symonanis, junior in LAS and Alpha Kappa Psi member.

Although these professional business organizations are considered fraternities, they differ greatly from the Greek rush process. According to Sobczak, who rushed both Delta Sigma Pi and Phi Gamma Nu (where she currently holds membership), business fraternity rush holds multiple stages.

First, each business fraternity will host an information night to demonstrate their fraternities’ goals and expectations to prospective candidates. These particular nights allow candidates to network as well as make an impression before the formal rush process begins. Once the first stage begins, candidates will participate in two-on-one interviews where they will be asked behavioral questions. If candidates are asked to return, they proceed to the second round, which is known as the “social stage.” This provides a more casual setting to talk to active members, Sobczak said. The third and final stage is a long interview, which lasts about 12 minutes. Out of the general 200 applicants, only 20 members make it into the semester’s pledge class.

David Van Vlierbergen, junior in Business and Phi Gamma Nu member, recalled that he felt more pressure in the professional business fraternity rush process than the Greek rush process because they asked questions such as, “Have you ever encountered failure? If so, how did you handle it?” Symonanis agreed and said the main difference between the two was that rushing Alpha Kappa Psi involved more of an actual interview than a casual conversation.

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    However, time spent in business fraternities is not entirely consumed with stressful interviews and business preparations. Symonanis said she enjoys the many social aspects of her business fraternity.

    “AKPsi is a great organization because besides professional events, we also have many social events such as (a) barn dance, semi-formal, intramural sports, fieldtrips and formal,” she said. “We also offer many philanthropy events that allow students to help the Champaign-Urbana community throughout the year.”

    Van Vlierbergen said his fraternity also participates in many philanthropy events as well.

    “We host Mr. Business, which benefits the Boys and Girls Club of Champaign and Compete for a Cure, which benefits the American Lung Association and the Pam Stern Legacy of Hope Fund,” he said.

    His business fraternity, Phi Gamma Nu, strives to fulfill the goals of its three pillars, which are social, professionalism and philanthropy.

    Van Vlierbergen, Symonanis and Sobczak said they have been able to participate in a variety of social and philanthropic activities in their business fraternities that have bonded them closer to their fellow members.

    “My favorite thing about PGN is that it is more than just a business organization — it is a family,” Sobczak said. “Sure, PGN has polished me and enabled me to get an internship, but the relationships that I’ve formed and the support I receive from all PGN’s members is amazing.”

    Van Vlierbergen agreed that the most enjoyable commonality between his Greek fraternity and his business fraternity is the idea that both pledge classes support one another. Just as his Greek brothers get excited when one of their friends wins a competition, his business fraternity congratulates its members on newly acquired internships.

    All current students interested in a future in the business field are encouraged to attend information night which begins Jan. 22 for Phi Gamma Nu at 7:30 p.m. in Lincoln Hall; Jan. 23 for Delta Sigma Pi at 6 p.m. in the Illini Union Ballroom; and Jan. 23 for Alpha Kappa Psi at 7:30 p.m. in Wohlers Hall, room 141. 

    Christen can be reached at [email protected]