Two Cornell students founded a Cornell chapter of Phi Beta Lambda — the collegiate extension of the Future Business Leaders of America — this semester, hoping to provide an alternative to current business clubs and fraternities.
“I’ve always wanted this,” said co-founder Leslie Park ’18, a spring sophomore transfer from Temple University and president of PBL at Cornell. “I realized I wanted a different kind of experience when it came to student professional organizations.”
Park said she met students during her first semester who were interested in pre-existing business organizations but found them “scary and intimidating.”
“It was just a matter of there being only a certain number of spots,” she said, explaining that the competitive selection process rejects many qualified and passionate applicants. “I realized that there was a need that wasn’t being met here. There were many business minors or students just interested in business: they wanted a more flexible kind of commitment that still offered professional growth.”
Park recalled that she had participated in such an organization at Temple University’s PBL and realized she could bring the organization to Cornell.
“Inclusiveness” is what distinguishes PBL from many similar clubs, according to Vice President Danielle Clark ’18.
“The experience you get from PBL is really what you want it to be,” Park said, adding that the club recruits year-round and is seeking members of all years and programs.
“[PBL] can be just as rigorous as being in any other selective organization,” she said. “But you can also be an engineering student or premed student who doesn’t have that kind of time but is still interested in establishing a business background and network.”
Events the organization may hold this year include a chat series with PBL alumni, a panel to connect members with current graduate school students, a fundraiser for the March of Dimes and a resume workshop. However, the schedule is tentative and depends on the desires of the organization’s general body, Clark said.
“Everyone who joins this year is a founding member,” Park added. “You get a lot of say in what the organization looks like going forward.”
Clark also stressed that PBL’s social events, from “pumpkin carving [to] g-body dinners, are just as important to us as our internship panels and case competitions.”
“We stress professional and leadership development while simultaneously building strong friendships among members,” she said.
Kevin Ying ’20 expressed uncertainty about “what will set PBL apart” from the many other business organizations on campus. However, he said he is still interested in the club because of his experiences with leadership conferences in high school.
“PBL seemed like a good way to get back into the business mindset,” Ying said.