My years in college were some of the most enjoyable of my life. It was where I gained my independence by living on my own, developed lifelong bonds of friendship and brotherhood through the Fraternity, developed leadership skills through intercollegiate athletics and involvement in campus life, and gained a love and appreciation for learning. In college, I laid the foundation for my career by working my tail off, but also by playing just as hard.
A healthy balance of hard work and play was important to my success. Those years of extraordinary personal growth and development of my mind, soul, and friendships prepared me for the next phase of my life. Phi Delta Theta’s values of friendship, sound learning, and rectitude were the building blocks to my success.
You need others to develop and grow your career. You can’t pull this off alone. The ability to develop and grow your network of friends will provide you with multitudes of people who might help or add value to your career development. The mastery of the Fraternity’s value of friendship has the ability to make you wildly successful in the development and growth of your career.
There is one thing that successful people have more than the average—they have greater networks. The secret to success in any contact-dependent profession (i.e., any career where you have to deal with people – almost every career) is the ability to initiate contacts with prospective buyers on a consistent basis. This simply means that if you are developing your career, looking for a job, applying to graduate programs, the more contacts that you initiate with prospective buyers of your talents (employers), the more opportunities that you will have before you. This also applies to making contacts or making yourself visible to others who have networks of friends who could help you. For example, let your chapter brothers know that you are looking for a job or an opportunity. You never know, one of them may have a father, mother, aunt, uncle, or a family friend who might be looking for your talents or willing to help you grow your career.
Being a member of a fraternity, especially Phi Delta Theta, provides an incredible advantage. Building friendships, both in quantity and quality, will expand your networks and opportunities as you develop and grow your career. Whether you are cultivating friendships within the chapter or learning how to recruit prospective members, you are initiating contacts with others and building your personal network. While the Fraternity provides a strong foundation for your professional network, it is very important to expand your contacts beyond Phi Delta Theta. This not only helps your chapter in recruitment and enhancing the chapter’s visibility on campus, but it expands your friendship base and personal network to realms that may become valuable to you in the future as you grow and develop your career.
Many of the best employment opportunities are identified and pursued through relationships. The more people you know, the more opportunities tend to come your way. Relationships are at the core of business in any sector (for profit, nonprofit, or government). People hire or do business with people. Your first step in any job hunt is to make contact with prospective employers. Your network can help open those doors.
Learning is the primary reason that you and your family are investing time, money, and resources into four or more years of higher education. As you transition into a career in a global marketplace, the competition is fierce. If you aren’t technically prepared with a good foundation of knowledge in your discipline, you are already at a disadvantage. You certainly don’t have to be a 4.00 student to be a successful in your transition to a career, but you do have to be competent.
Employers and better graduate school programs look for candidates who are technically competent; however, there is a differentiator that will significantly enhance your chances of landing that pivotal first job or getting into a top graduate school. That differentiator is the ability to communicate, in writing and verbally, and the ability to convey a sincere love of learning.
Poor writing skills are the easiest way to eliminate a candidate in a competitive marketplace. Most employers will assess writing skills in your resume or through writing samples. One of the most important courses that you can take as you prepare for your career is a technical writing course. The ability to write in a cogent, concise manner will serve you well to not only land a good job, but to propel you through a successful career.
Employers invest in people in order to develop their talent and to hopefully yield a return on investment. This means that employers, as well as graduate and professional schools, look for candidates who have a love of learning and who will be self-motivated to continually improve and reinvent themselves. My business is very different today than it was five, fifteen, and twenty years ago. My employees and I have had to learn new techniques, technologies, and processes to remain relevant in the market. As an employer, I love to invest in people who have the ability and desire to learn and grow because their innovation “innovates” our business, allowing our firm to succeed and thrive in a competitive market. The easiest way to develop this desire and love of learning is to find a career path or profession that you love. If you become passionate about something, you will love to learn about it.
Once you have made contact with prospective employers or individuals who can help progress your career, you must have something of value to offer. Sound learning should take care of this requirement. However, one more critical element will make or break your career growth and development – that is your integrity. People hire and invest in individuals that they like and trust. Simply put: you are only as valuable as your reputation.
Your judgment and actions shape your character and reputation. Decisions that you make now will stick with you for some time. The Internet and social media often memorialize and make very public both good and bad decisions. Make good decisions; do the right thing; always treat everyone with respect; and guard your reputation. Unimpeachable rectitude will make you an attractive candidate for future employers or business associates.
Chris W. Brussalis is Member-at-Large of the General Council. Chris is President & CEO of The Hill Group, Inc., a national management consulting firm and Adjunct Professor of Management and Policy at the Heinz College of Carnegie Mellon University.