Greek organizations prepare seniors for tough job market

Media Credit: Andrew Goodman | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Kate Watson, a regional stylist for Loft, instructed students on how to properly dress for interviews and jobs, using Olivia Barrow, a junior at GW, as a model.

Greek life leaders are trying to prepare their seniors for a competitive job market while bringing members who drift away back into the fold of the community.

For the first time this fall, the University’s three umbrella Greek organizations are teaming up to host a job training session for seniors, giving them tips about writing rèsumès and acing interviews.

President of the Panhellenic Association, Kasey Packer, said the program is a way to “focus back on seniors.” As seniors spend their last year focused on internships and landing a job after graduation, they’re often pushed mentally and physically off campus, away from their sorority, she said.

“We recognize that seniors are in a job search right now and they’re busy figuring out plans for after school,” Packer said.

The programs will include rèsumè workshops, as well as presentations of tips for how to dress for the workplace and prepare for job interviews, which are part of a larger series of life skills trainings organized by the Center for Student Engagement.

Christina Witkowicki, the director of student involvement and Greek life with the Center for Student Engagement, said hosting training events is one way to keep Greek life “relevant” for seniors.

“By keeping fraternities and sororities relevant in the lives of seniors, it helps ensure seniors stay involved and provide their perspective, experience and guidance in the development of our younger members,” Witkowicki said.

Michael McKenzie, the managing director of Career Learning and Experience at the Center for Career Services, said the University works closely with Greek organizations to help market the skills they learn in their chapters.

“Our programs help students translate these skills, along with their academic and co-curricular experiences, into the workplace and leverage them for a successful job search and lifetime of productive and engaged citizenship,” he said.

Packer said the event is just one way Greeks can get job training before leaving school. Chapters frequently invite alumni back to talk about their job experiences and post job openings from alumni on their listservs and Facebook pages.

Mollie Bowman, vice president of programming for the Panhellenic Association, said Greek alumni were a pivotal part of helping her find internships in D.C.

“If I’m ever looking for a job, I know I’m going to know hundreds of thousands of women who were in this national organization who are there to lift you up,” she said.

Watson Leffel, president of Sigma Kappa, said the chapter regularly hosts networking events with Greek alumni to help members find jobs or internship connections.

Jill Frey, a senior involved in Greek life, said her sorority helped her network with future employers and get her rèsumè to the “top of the pile.”

“Three of my six internships have come from having my Greek chapter on my rèsumè,” she said.

But Frey, who interned at a communications firm over the summer, added that tailoring workshops to seniors about to enter the job market may be targeting the wrong members of Greek life.

“If PanHel really wants to engage and start professional development, they need to start with freshmen, sophomores and juniors and talk about how Greek life can help them,” she said.

In 2012, Career Services started to change its student center to help cater to underclassmen looking for jobs during the school year. The University has also set aside $20 million over the next decade for the Career Services office as part of the campus-wide strategic plan.

Career Services shifted its focus to more industry-specific areas, helping students find careers in the fields closer in line with their majors. The center also plans to increase its staff by close to a dozen members by 2015.

-Jacqueline Thomsen and Colleen Murphy contributed reporting.

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