College life is filled with opportunities to network and connect with peers, building relationships that can advance your life and career well beyond the yard. Organizations like fraternities and sororities offer prime venues for this, but there’s always the question of whether pledging is a good investment today, especially after all the parties, social events and campus community service duties were over.
Legal analyst Brittany Hale believes while being part of sorority or fraternity can be helpful, it isn’t necessarily vital for professional advancement. “For me, Greek life was not influential for professional networking or obtaining a job because I found other means by which I could connect,” Hale says.
After graduation, she made good use of her alumni network, attended events hosted by minority professional groups and volunteered. “In my experience, it was my passion and tenacity that appealed to other professionals,” Hale adds. “I’ve encountered professionals who were ‘Greek,’ but none ever refused to help or pass my name along because I was not a part of their organization.”
Krystle Davis, a licensed social worker, publicist and a member of Delta Sigma Theta Inc., shares a different perspective.
“My dad is a part of a fraternity so I learned early in life about the importance of utilizing your resources and networks,” Davis says. “Joining a sorority or fraternity is a lifetime commitment that goes beyond your school yard. The relationships you build in your collegiate and post-graduate years are valuable to professional development. Individuals in your organization will support and/or guide a vision they believe in because of the sisterhood you share.”
Davis believes that being a part of a sorority has definitely aided in her growth professionally. One of the nonprofit organizations she works for is with a sorority sister. “Sororities are made up of a wide range of individuals who hold positions and careers in a number of fields that can serve as mentors and/or resources; they have served as both in my life,” Davis says.
Davis says that she didn’t completely understand the magnitude of her sorority membership until she relocated to Washington D.C. for graduate school. “While in graduate school I had sorority sisters— as professors and classmates— who helped guide my professional decisions. I had sorors who looked out for me in pursuing my career as well as guiding me in the right direction,” she says. “Even as I venture out to start my own nonprofit, I look for women who have walked the path I am looking to walk, and it’s amazing when I find those women in my sorority. I’m not saying one can’t experience professional growth without the sorority or fraternity life, but when you’re a part of an organization of African American professional women or men, you have no choice but to grow professionally.”
At the end of the day, it’s all about maximizing opportunities and networks that work for you, whether it’s sororities and fraternities or other avenues.