Although I began college extremely wary of fraternity life last semester, I decided to jump into Greek Life at the University of Nevada, Reno. I decided to pledge Phi Delta Theta fraternity, and I can honestly say that it’s one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made (next to coming to college and never, ever attempting to watch Glee.) But while being in a fraternity has it’s obvious social benefits, I’ve come to notice a number of advantages for journalists that I’ve either seen or been able to take advantage of. I’ve listed the top three below:
1. Connections: One thing I’ve noticed about journalism majors, especially those in the print track, is that they tend to stick together with people in their major. While it can be helpful for j-school students to work together, it does narrow the kinds of viewpoints and story ideas you can get from other people. Joining a Greek Life organization puts you in close contact with anywhere between 50-100 members coming across a wide range of majors, political and social beliefs and different clubs and organizations. In the few months that my fraternity life intersected my time at the Sagebrush, I found out about a former member running for the Nevada State Assembly as well as an active member who fit perfectly into a story about students re-enrolling after dropping out of school. Although being in an organization with members who are highly involved in student government and on-campus clubs has the potential to limit the amount of reporting a student can do, the wide variety and number of story ideas available are well worth the cost.
2. Social Skills: As funny as it sounds, many of the journalism majors in college can have a difficult time transitioning into a more professional role, especially when it comes to an effective demeanor and interviewing skills. While you’ll spend a lot of time in Greek Life acting casually, there are plenty occasions where professional attire and manners are utterly necessary, from formal dances to meet-and-greets with well-connected alumni. For the most part, holding a position in a Greek organization is very similar to the role of a community organizer, with different philanthropy events and community service to plan and organize. These skills are easily transferable to the more PR-y aspect of journalism, especially in regards to advertising your work and finding a reader base. Participating in a social with a sorority or working at a community service event gives you an opportunity to work on later interviewing skills and ease with people, before actually having to use those skills to cover a story.
3. Entering a huge network: A few months ago, I was speaking to UNR President Marc Johnson about the Main Station Farm controversy after an ASUN Senate meeting, and after the interview he commented on the fraternity jacket I was wearing. As it turns out, Johnson is a member of Phi Delta Theta as well, and actually helped establish a chapter at Emporia State University in Kansas. Although this conversation lasted briefly, it undoubtedly made an impression on me and most likely Johnson, and in the future he’ll be more likely to remember me. Although I joined a 164-year-old fraternity, just about any Greek Letter organization has plenty of influential members working in a wide variety of industries; this is advantageous in opening doors or creating an instant connection with not only members of a certain society, but just about any. I’ve recently been getting into LinkenIn, which contains professional groups for both local chapters and national organizations, all with different job postings and people ranging from aviation to Indian gambling.