Pledging a Greek organization may prove worthwhile beyond graduation according to Forbes.com, which recently reported that “about a quarter of all chief executives on the Forbes Super 500 list of America’s largest corporations were members of college fraternities.”
The recent Forbes article suggests that the same social skills that help students get into the Greek system “can later give them a leg-up in corporate climbing.” In addition, the network of alumni fraternity brothers and sorority sisters can help current students build connections and search for jobs.
Wachovia CEO G. Kennedy Thompson, a Beta Theta Pi alumnus, told Forbes.com that joining a fraternity as an undergraduate student at the University of North Carolina gave him “the opportunity to meet people from different backgrounds and places and these connections have continued.”
Cornell’s own Sanford I. Weill ’55, head of Forbes Super 500 company Citigroup, was a member of Alpha Epsilon Pi.
Another fraternity that has produced high-profile CEOs is Psi Upsilon.
“The leadership qualities that develop in a fraternity continue further into the business world,” said Rudy Tabor ’04, president of the Cornell chapter of Psi Upsilon. “The alumni in our house are helpful.”
Michael Bergelson ’95, Psi Upsilon alumnus and co-founder and CEO of Audium, stays very involved with Cornell’s chapter of the fraternity and currently serves both as president of its Alumni Corporation Board and the Alumni Interfraternity Council.
“The two most important things that alumni can contribute besides money are continuity and connections. In the professional world, if I have the opportunity to give something to the graduates who were in my house or in the Greek system, I would,” Bergelson said.
Although Forbes.com mainly focused on fraternities, the same theme stays true for women in sororities.
“It’s good training to be a leader. If I was interviewing someone for a job and they were all equally qualified but one of them was a Cornell Pi Phi, I’d pick her,” said Alison Karmelek ’05, co-social chair of the Pi Beta Phi sorority. “The Greek system also attracts very outgoing people and those are the people who end up leading,” she added.
Leo D. Pedraza, assistant dean of students, fraternity and sorority affairs, agrees with the article.
“Membership in fraternities and sororities can provide students the advantages of networking with other people, including alumni. This can often be a benefit to job seekers because employers understand the leadership benefits of joining a Greek-letter organization, including communication and organizational skills,” Pedraza said.
He also added that the conferences and receptions, often held by the Greek organizations for their members and alumni, give these students “the opportunity to make more connections, which provides them a networking advantage over other students.”
Some students were somewhat critical of the Forbes.com study.
“The article seemed to imply that members of the Greek system are successful because they are endowed with more social skills than your average student, which will translate into future success. I think it has more to do with the networks of contacts being in a fraternity affords its members which lead to higher positions later in life,” said Zachary Hollander ’04, rush chair of the Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity.
Hollander’s fraternity brother, Robert Cohen ’04, concurred.
“I believe that being in a Greek organization can get someone in the door, but these Greek alumni aren’t CEOs because of the people they know. Being in a fraternity won’t elevate someone to be a CEO, working hard will,” he said.
Archived article by Veronika Belenkaya