For students interested in business, the thought of joining a business fraternity seems natural. Yet many don’t know the purpose or goals of a business fraternity. Seeking to bridge the gap, we talked with members of Phi Chi Theta to get a glimpse of what goes on at Cornell’s newest business fraternity, founded in 2016.
According to PCT President Bryan Hyland ’21, a business fraternity is essentially an organization meant to educate students who are interested in pursuing careers in business.
“Our goal or our value-add as a business fraternity is to take kids and teach them new things,” said Hyland. “We’re not expecting you to have too much knowledge, but if you’re passionate and willing to be part of something bigger than yourself and one day give back to others, then PCT is the organization for you.”
One of the first things that comes to mind when thinking of business fraternities has to be the low acceptance rate to these organizations. Every fall and spring, Cornell’s five business fraternities receive a large number of applications, yet only a handful become pledges. While Hyland declined to provide The Sun with information about organization’s acceptance rate, he did reveal some of the guidelines for member recruitment at PCT.
We have “no quota [for membership],” he said, “but usually accept eight to 15 [new members].” For context, PCT currently has around 30 active brothers and the other four business fraternities have 40-50 active brothers each.
The rush process is likely the most daunting part to people looking to enter a business fraternity. The mere thought of dozens of people dressed in formal suits all striving to be better than the person next to them may seem perplexing, exhausting or even terrifying to some people.
Hyland said he wanted to remove the aura of exclusivity and unapproachability surrounding the rush process. To help make the rush more accessible, for last semester’s rush, PCT gave all prospective applicants insight into its rush process.
“We’re all looking for qualified motivated and driven individuals. We created a flyer called ‘PCT Transparency’ that gave a brief introduction to the different rounds of the application process,” said Hyland.
Aside from making its recruitment process more transparent, PCT also hopes to differentiate itself through a focus on diversity. PCT aims for diversity in several dimensions, including career and gender. Fiona Qiu ’21, who joined PCT last semester, was surprised by the diversity in the organization.
“For me, I think PCT is very unique because it is the newest and it focuses on a more diverse brotherhood. We have brothers interested in finance, investment banking and consulting, but also engineering and business analytics,” Qiu said. “In my new member class [of 10 people], we only had one male and everyone else was female.”
Most of the teaching done in PCT happens during the new member education process, an eight to 10 week process which occurs right after the rush process. In the new member education process, new members learn the essentials to succeed in the business world.
“Our new members go through various different things including case studies, meeting with brothers, papers, and seminars. It’s just a pretty wide spanning learning opportunity for our new members that cover all aspects of business,” said Hyland.
PCT also utilizes a variety of different workshops to give new members a hands-on experience with skills they’ll need to land a job in business.
“We have excel workshops, resume workshops, powerpoint workshops, modeling workshops, interview workshops, mock superdays. And obviously we want [the recruits] to get better at their presentation skills and communication so that’s something we really stress,” said Hyland.
For non-business majors, PCT’s member education offers exposure to pre-professional topics not often covered in class.
“For me, PCT definitely prepared me for interviews, applications, and the recruitment process. Before joining PCT, I knew that I needed to have technical skills like financial modeling and accounting, but as a stats and econ major, those skills weren’t covered in my coursework. PCT kind of forced me to learn those skills,” Qiu said.
In a world where internship experience is almost necessary to finding jobs post graduation, picking up and practicing the skills required to land those positions can be beneficial.
“[PCT] helped me secure my internship freshman year; it helped me secure my internship sophomore year; it’ll help me secure my internship junior year,” Hyland said.
While it may be easy to focus on entirely on the professional development aspect of a business fraternity like PCT, this often makes up only a portion of the entire experience.
“At the end of the day, joining a business fraternity or any club on campus is for the people you meet and the relationships you form,” said Hyland. “My friends at PCT are some of my closest friends here at Cornell.”