It’s back to school time, which means many young men and women across the country will find themselves making a decision about joining Greek life. While it’s not for everyone, being in a sorority changed me for the better. It has been over two years since I graduated and joined the “real world,” and I can honestly say, Greek life taught me valuable skills and lessons that I have carried from college to post-grad life.
1. Time Management
When there is a philanthropy event on Thursday, a chapter meeting on Sunday, and homecoming activities throughout the week, you sometimes wonder if you’ll have time to sleep or study. With the help of my trusty planner, I became a master of managing my days. Now, I hardly ever feel overwhelmed because I have experience being busy, prioritizing, and getting things done on time.
2. Communication Skills
I can talk to anyone. Adult, child, professional, casual, stranger with nothing in common…it doesn’t matter. During recruitment, you have to talk to women you’ve never met before who you are trying to impress, whether you are rushing or a sister. Sometimes you find something in common right away, other times it is difficult to carry a conversation. This experience has made potentially awkward situations easy for me. I don’t mind going to a party where I won’t know many people or going on a first date with a friend of a friend. Expressing yourself well gives a good impression and leads to success.
In my sorority, every member had an appointed position. Not only does this look great on a resume, but it teaches you how to be fair, organize, and make decisions. You don’t have to be the president — my favorite position was as intramural chair where I organized teams for sports games. I had a responsibility to get a team together, alert the team when games were, and make sure there was enough players each game. Even though it was a fun job, I felt like I had a hand in making the chapter a little better.
4. …And Following, Too
You’re not always the leader — I learned to be a good follower too. Just like a sorority or fraternity has a hierarchical structure, so does a workplace. I found that just as I respected older girls in my sorority, I respected more experienced people in my office. When you’re not in charge, you have to go with the flow and do what’s best for your chapter or workplace.
Not every sorority girl is Elle Woods and subsequently dressed to the nines every day. I like my sweatpants and ponytail as much as the next girl, but knowing how to present yourself is essential whether you’re on a date or at the office. My chapter had “pin attire” days where we had to dress in business-casual for meetings and designated days. While there were definitely days where I would have rather pulled on my jeans and flip flops, I never stressed about what to wear on a job interview the way some of my other friends did. As shallow as it is, people do judge others based on how you present yourself. Plus, when you look good, you feel good, and your confidence will shine through.
6. Playing Nice
Sorority girls are not cookie cutter clones of every member in their organization — they all have different personalities that sometimes clash. You’re not going to be best friends with every single person in your organization; however, you will be seeing them almost every day of your college career.
There are going to be coworkers, clients, and friends’ boyfriends who you may not be your favorite people but knowing how to act civilly will save yourself a lot of unnecessary drama. People think, act, and do things in different ways — being exposed to so many types of people during college will also prepare you for interacting with these people after graduation.
7. Resume Booster
I hesitated to include my involvement in a sorority on my resume for fear of preconceived notions of nonstop partying or caring solely about fashion. After realizing all the positions and experiences I held within my organization, I did include it, and I am so glad I did. At one interview, I answered many questions using examples from when I was a leader, planned events, or dealt with conflict within my organization. At another interview, a potential employer literally said to me, “You had me at sorority.” He explained being in a sorority meant I knew how to interact with others and be responsible.
Like I said, Greek life isn’t for everyone. You have to find an organization where you feel like you can be yourself and excel at the same time. All I’m saying is to give it a shot — you will learn just as much through your organization as you will in class.