Graduation is an exciting and momentous day for any graduate. Waiting to hear your name to walk across the stage. Switching your tassel right to left. Taking a bajillion of pictures with friends and family. Listening to your chapter members corral around you in song as they celebrate this next big step in your life. I mean, this is a pretty big deal. The day is all a blissful blur.
But unlike marriage, you don’t get a honeymoon phase after everything dies down. It gets real…real fast. While I want you to soak in this ceremonious event, I also want to pass on a few pearls and jewels that will help you deal with “The Real World” once the celebration is over. Here are 10 lessons and realities I learned that will help my fellow Greeks transition into the professional world a bit more smoothly.
10. Greek Beef Is Nonexistent & Intolerable
Whatever fraternal or sororal beef you had with other chapters on campus stays on campus. NO one, and I mean, NO one cares about those issues. For me personally, I always thought it was childish during my undergrad years. You’re grown ass men & women fighting over nonsense. But I digress. Leave the ancient warring on the yard. Once you get into the “real world”, you’re going to need your Greek brothers and sisters to make connections, collaborate on projects, and help you achieve your dream. Each organization has their perspective talents that they bring to the table. It’s a family networking hub. You might need them one day, and they might need you. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to excel yourself (and your organization) because of collegiate pettiness. We’re graduates that contribute to our society through our excellence socially and academically. Remember, we’re not gangs; we’re Greek.
9. When You Call, “The Line” Might Be Busy
One of the things I quickly learned after college is that communication with friends drops off. Most times slightly, other times drastically and unfortunately sometimes completely. This includes communication with your LBs and LSs. Now, don’t get your panties in a bunch. I know it sounds harsh and a little rude, but it’s reality. Your life is going to get busy. Their lives are going to get busy. If you have brothers or sisters on your line who are in different graduating classes, you’re going to have to understand their schedule is going to be completely different from yours. When they have free time, you’re working. When you’re off work, they might be running an event, studying or partying. HOWEVER…
Thanks to social media, it is way easier to keep in touch with each other’s lives. You have Facebook and Twitter for general updates. My undergrad chapter uses Groupme and Facebook Groups to keep each other abreast of everyday activities and conversations. You have platforms like Skype and Facetime to stay connected on a more personal level. And then of course, you have the telephone. Call and text each other from time to time. If you’re in different cities or states, try to plan yearly get-togethers with as many people as you can. Keep the communication as consistent and realistic as possible. Making the effort to keep in touch will help you maintain the bond that you and your line worked so hard to establish. And you can help each other grow into your own persons after you’ve left the yard.
8. Grad Chapter Guilt Trips
When I graduated from school, one of the things I wanted to do right off the bat was join a Grad Chapter. I was most excited to work with our auxiliary groups (I love kids); it was all I ever talked about. But due to life, things didn’t go as planned and my dreams of going to Grad Chapter fresh out of college were put on the back burner. I attempted to join last year, but again, life hasn’t really allowed me the time to be as active as I’d like to be. And let me just say this…if you quote “Excuses” after you read that, you can go kindly…well…I am a finer woman so I’d rather not say. But the point is…
Life happens. You make the time for things you deem as a priority, and quite frankly, sometimes the organization doesn’t come first. The most responsible and helpful things you can do for your organization is:
- Research the grad chapters, as you did when you were a prospect, and figure out which one is right for you. Learn about their programs, member turnover, community involvement, etc.
- Go to a few chapter meetings of your interest. Get a feel for the chapter’s personality and if you’ll be a good fit skill and social wise.
- Ask the Treasurer about total dues. If you’re interested in being financially active, ask him/her to break down the cost of dues. If you can’t pay it all up front, see if they can put you on a payment plan.
- If you can’t afford to be financially active, ask if you can contribute to the chapter in other ways. Of course you won’t have a say in matters that include voting. But you may be able to volunteer your time, talents, creativity, resources, etc. and still make an impact.
- If don’t have the time or money to contribute to grad chapter at this time, don’t worry about it. There are other ways you can be down for the cause. Volunteer once a month doing something you love and sign in under your organization. Wear your letters while you do it. Recruit for your organization. Spread the news about great thing your organization is doing on social media and lead your audience to how they can get locally involved if they’re interested.
- Don’t let anyone, ANYONE, make you feel like you are less of a member BECAUSE you are not financial. You contribute when you can. Your efforts should be appreciated. And if you choose to continue to make solo-dolo contributions, that is your prerogative. We’d love for you to come back home and do it collectively, but if you can’t, then so be it.
7. You’ll Have to Defend Collegiate Greek Life
Contrary to popular belief, your Greek popularity doesn’t account for anything when you enter the professional world. No one cares how many step shows you won, the times you set it owt on the yard, or the number of ls’s you came in with. It all becomes obsolete.
Thanks to media, on paper, a sorority or fraternity can translate to “party, party, party, some academia, party, party, party.” So you’ll have to bring your best foot forward for you and your organization. When you’re networking and job searching, spotlight the great things you and your chapter did. Fundraisers, campus wide events, positions held & committees participation, and co-sponsored causes are all things you can use to put yourself and your organization in a favorable light. Debunk any negative stereotypes that might exist about Greek life. Expound upon the great experience and lessons Greek life has taught you. Speak about your spesh and other prophytes mentorship. Explain how guiding your little sister/brother helped you gain an outlook on effective leadership. Boast on your chapter’s awards during your tenure and how you contributed to those successes. You know why you fell in love with your fraternity or sorority (hopefully for the right reasons). Make others fall in love with it too.
6. You Have Work Experience; It’s Called Student Organizations & Internships
One of the primary fears new graduates face is job rejection due to “lack of experience.” And of course, our default response is “How am I going to gain experience if I never get a chance?”
But don’t give into the hype. You’ve been in college for some years now. You’ve taken your cornerstone classes. You’ve done group projects. You’ve held positions and played important roles in student organizations. You’ve had various part time jobs to make it through college. You’ve interned for companies that have given you a taste of real life. As stated in the previous section, use your activities to your advantage. It’s all a matter of how you present your story. Write down all of the student orgs, internships, and jobs you’ve had through your collegiate years. Jot down a few things you did for each of those occupations. Write down your growing pains and accomplishments. When searching for your ideal job, take note of their ideal employee characteristics and skill sets. Then, match them to your previous list. Identify and highlight the most pertinent information that matches up to your ideal job description. Also, if you’re applying for jobs with differing talent requirements, make at least 2 versions of your resume. Not all of your experience is going to apply to the jobs you’re looking for. Adjust your experience accordingly. You have what you need. You just have to know how to flaunt it.
I have a few more tips for you that I think you might enjoy. Stay tuned for part two!