As a proud member of Geneseo Greek Life, there is one question I'm always asked: Why did I "go Greek?"
And to that I always respond: It's a great opportunity to build relationships, network, gain leadership experience and perform community service. How many of those reasons are actually true though? In my experience – all of them. And they all work together to boost our résumés as Greeks in real world settings.
Wendi Kinney, the director of Greek Affairs for Geneseo, is extremely conscious of what Greeks are doing and how they use their "Greek-ness" to get places. When I spoke with her, I wanted stories of actual Geneseo Greeks making connections and finding jobs. I did not, however, expect Kinney herself to be a recipient of the benefits of going Greek.
A member of Greek Life at the State University of New York at Fredonia, Kinney worked for her sorority's National Headquarters after graduation. In those years, she also managed to maintain relationships she had built in college.
"A friend of mine [from Fredonia] was in a fraternity there, had gotten a job as a [residence director] at Geneseo," Kinney said. "We had kept in touch after college, emailing back and forth. One day he asked me if I was interested in being the director for Greek Affairs at Geneseo, because the position had just opened up and they were looking for someone. I decided to go for an interview."
Without that relationship at Fredonia, Kinney would not have been in the loop on the internal affairs of Geneseo staffing. When she went for her interview her life as a Greek helped her even more.
"We talked a lot about my experience in a sorority in college, what I had gained from it, what I wanted to bring to Geneseo," she said. "I met with a group of Greek students who wanted to know if I was going to make drastic changes or not. It had nothing to do with my degree, which wasn't in higher learning, and I didn't even have a master's yet. It was strictly based on my experience in Greek Life."
Kinney also directed me to other students who have benefited from Greek exposure. Liz Riley, a senior member of Alpha Kappa Pi, said that her involvement in Greek Life has offered her a huge opportunity.
At a recent mandatory Business Professional Development event, Riley spoke with a man who turned out to be the Dean of Admissions at Cornell and a Geneseo Greek alumnus. Riley conversed with him about Greek Life and her goal to obtain a master's degree in business administration. He eventually asked her to send him a résumé.
Through the course of emailing back and forth, Riley set up an interview with Cornell's admissions department. Though Cornell was not originally a school to which she had thought of applying, it is now among the schools she may attend for graduate studies. If involvement in Greek Life does not play a role in her admission, it has certainly opened the door for her.
"If anything, he definitely could appreciate the work I had done and the positions I had held within my organization and on the Inter-Greek Council," Riley said. "Since he had been a Greek here, he understood more what I had actually done with my time."
Becoming involved in Greek Life is not going to offer a straight pathway to a future career, but a general college education doesn't do that either. It is a common background that can spark a conversation. Maybe it's the link that binds Greek peers who may help to earn a job interview. It is this strong community that supports its members from the inside out.