Greek Affiliations and Your Resume

Old SchoolShould your Greek affiliations be on your resume?  Reader C wonders…

I’m a current undergrad applying to law schools this fall and am finalizing my resume. I have a fairly senior professor/administrator who insists that students not put their Greek affiliation anywhere on their resume because he worries that being in a sorority/fraternity (or even the “wrong one”) could hurt a chance of a job/admissions offer. I held a leadership role in my sorority (one where there was no committee under me, but I did initiate and successfully complete some large projects) and was also a recruitment counselor for Greek life for two years (a highly competitive position at my school). If I omit these positions, my resume is rather sparse in the leadership category. Do you have any suggestions? Should I say that I was in Greek life, but leave the name of the sorority off? Or can I hope that I won’t be judged to be a shallow, snooty “sorority girl” before they meet me?

I was not a member of a sorority in my undergrad years — something that I slightly regret now.  I went about halfway through the “rush” process, but dropped out of the process before pledging (I seem to remember some frenzied late-night conversation with friends — you know the kind in college, where the World Suddenly Makes Sense — about how “sister” meant more to me than “group of girls I live with” and therefore I should drop out of the process.)  In terms of my college social life, I don’t regret the decision at all — my friends and I had great fun, and I was very involved with a more subject-specific “residential college,” as NU called them — but in the <cough> many years since college, I’ve come to wonder whether a sorority affiliation would have been helpful from a networking perspective.  I seem to remember there being a slight bias against the Greek system from professors, administrators, and a lot of students* as well. (Pictured: I just rewatched the movie “Old School” and laughed really hard — I recommend it if you haven’t seen it!)

Now, that said, should Reader C put her leadership positions on her resume? Well… I’m not sure.  In the “applying to grad school” context, I think there may be a bias against sorority girls and I think your professor might have some good points.  I’m also not sure whether “leadership” is really a quality that grad schools are looking for, above and beyond, say, critical thinking, researching, and writing skills.  I often talk about my theory of preparing for an interview by thinking of three great traits, with stories to accompany them — I wouldn’t have a problem with you pulling a story from your leadership experience at the sorority.  But in terms of written application materials, I might leave your sorority experiences as one-liners in a “Other Interests” type of section.

Ultimately it depends what else your resume looks like, though — if you really have very little work experience then a sorority-filled resume is better than an extremely sparse resume.  However you put it on your resume, I think it would look very weird to leave off the specific affiliation and just “say you were in Greek life.”

All right, ladies, I’m curious — how many of you were in the Greek system in college?  How has it affected your professional lives since — have you used your sorority as a networking tool? And, of course, what’s your advice to Reader C?

*I will always, always, always remember taking a psych class in college and having a teacher ask the class, “What affiliation are you?” and hearing a student immediately call out, loudly and proudly from the front row, “GDI.”  “What affiliation is that?” asked the professor.  “Gawwwwd Damn Independent,” she said just as loudly and proudly. Ohhhhhhh-kay.

(L-2)

Comments

  1. Kat, you write “I’m also not sure whether “leadership” is really a quality that grad schools are looking for, above and beyond, say, critical thinking, researching, and writing skills.”

    I completely disagree. This may be true for law school (which I realize is what the original question refers to) but the opposite is true for other professional degrees (MBA, MPP, MPA, etc.) — demonstrating leadership is *very* important and a critical element of admissions decisions.

    • Demonstrating leadership is undoubtedly important for law school. I can’t really imagine any career-oriented graduate school for which leadership experience is not an asset.

      • Anonymous :

        Anything in the arts or humanities. Those are careers.

        • Completely disagree with this one! Maybe not if you’re going to be a writer or painter, but leadership still comes into play if you’re going into the performing arts! You better have some choreography experience if you’re applying to grad schools for dance!

          • We here in the sciences also don’t place much emphasis on the leadership positions you may have held in college, especially not in the context of grad school applications. We also have careers.

          • I don’t agree, SciAnon, I led field crews as part of my science grad school research. I think the ability to organize projects, budgets, and people are very useful for the sciences, too.

      • Former MidLevel :

        Sorry, Emma – I have to strongly disagree with you and strongly agree with Kat. For law school admissions, what matters is your GPA and LSAT. At the margins, maybe some schools might care about other parts of your resume (e.g., leadership).

        But I hope the original questioner does not lose sleep over this issue–put it on your resume if it is experience you are proud of and it helps fill out your resume, but don’t expect it to affect your chances significantly. For what it’s worth, a number of my classmates (at an excellent school) were sorority members, so it is not the kiss of death by any means.

    • As a professor who serves on admissions committees for Masters and PhD programs, I can tell you that I don’t look at the “Greek” affiliations on a student’s application. Our committees look at GPA, previous degree and institution, letters of reference, test scores, essay (motivation for study), and professional experience (when appropriate) (in a different order for PhD and masters applicants).

      In my experience, listing Greek affiliations and other activities is often a way that candidates will signal race or gender, if they think that will help them acquire financial support… That strategy can turn some faculty off and work to turn others on.

      For those posters that note that a fellow “sister” might preference your application, I would warn that the probability that a professor would vote to admit you because you are Delta Delta Delta seems low – and most likely equal to the probability that another professor would count Greek affiliation as a strike against you.

      My advice: if the leadership activities are important to you list them. If not, don’t list them. But it will not make or break your graduate school application.

  2. I was active in my sorority during undergrad/held a leadership role in it/held a leadership role in the larger Greek community and that information is still on my resume under “community involvement.” I honestly believe that it has actually helped me in terms of getting into grad school and then getting a job because it shows that I was able to balance an active social life with a full academic schedule. It may depend on your major, but I know that my business professors always told us to include this information on our resumes for the above reasonas and because you never know who may be a fellow sister, significant other of a sister, etc. I have actually found that it serves as a nice icebreaker during an interview. Also, somewhat unrelated but do check out your sorority’s alum group in whatever city you go to grad school – it is a great way to meet new people!

    • Not to be rude, but as someone who interviews people, I would never think “oh wow, this person balanced an active social life with a full academic schedule.”
      There is zero excuse not to balance the two. College is not hard.

      • Anonymous :

        Whether you mean for it to be or not, that is rude. There are better schools than others, and harder majors, as well. Your experience is not universal. College can be hard — it just depends on your choices.

      • Yep Anon that was rude. Also, untrue. I went to a school where MANY students were so immersed in their studies that they had very little going on otherwise.

      • I agree and don’t think it’s rude. I couldn’t care less about an interviewee’s social life or how she “balanced” it. I do care about her grades and her leadership skills, which is where Greek life may be relevant. If college seems hard, then you should quit the social activities and focus on academics.

        • This

        • Second

        • Agreed.

        • Aimez-Moi :

          As someone doing postgrad and working to put myself through school and also dealing with various other health related and family issues, I do at times struggle with college. To assume that it’s my social activities that affect whether college is “easy” or not, is naive and rude.

          When you live with a disabled parent or a volatile home environment, commute 2 hours a day to college, have various health issues, and have to work to pay the bills to put yourself through college, it’s at times an issue to get time to study, despite having the ability. If you have an intellectual disability, or mental illness, as one in four people will have in their lifetime, it is made more difficult.

          Just because you had everything handed to you on a silver platter and didn’t have to worry about where you would sleep on a given night because of violence at home, or having to pay the bills while you were studying, doesn’t mean everyone has the same experiences.

          Yes, college is easy. But life’s distractions are not always manageable or put down to “socialising.” Seriously, get a world view and some perspective outside of your own.

      • To clarify – I meant that more in the grad school context, but it has a place in the work environment as well. I know A LOT of people, esp. from law school who did nothing else in undergrad except study in order to get into law school x or med. school x. Demonstrating that you can maintain a high GPA and leadership roles in social organizations at the same time does show an ability to balance both aspects of a young person’s life. Also, your comment was rude whether or not you intended it to be.

        • I interview people. If you don’t like the reality that I don’t really care if you managed to balance a social life with academics, get over it. The real world doesn’t care that you did. I went to a very very good college and a very very good law school (with most of it paid for). Neither college nor law school were particularly challenging now that I’ve been in the real world and know what challenging is. Employers really don’t care about what you think is important. They care about what they do. Leadership, intelligence, competence, and personality are important. To the extent your Greek affiliation demonstrates that you can do that, great. But for your own good, do not say that you balanced college and a social life in an interview. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t say that and have reasons to prove it up and, frankly, I don’t care what you did in college. Lots of people partied their way through college and then got their act together in the work world…and other people burned out after grad school and cannot operate in the real world.

          • I’m glad you found undergrad and law school to be so easy and congratulations on apparently having a full resume to demonstrate your obvious abilities when applying for law school (likely at the age of 22 if you went straight through). However, I absolutely highlighted my sorority leadership experience when applying for law school because at 22 it was the most relevant leadership experience that I had and I believe this is true for a lot of people. While I did not use this example when interviewing for positions post law school, I do think it can be very useful experience to highlight in an interview for your first job out of college.

          • Puh-Leeze! Be careful b/c people are sensitive. Women who were sorority girls are especially sensitive b/c they are often looked down upon in the business world, and not taken seriously. It is OK for a guy to be a frat boy, but women, well, we are judged by a different standard, and many men have leered at me once they found out I was the Vice President in charge of Social Events at Delta Mu. They ask me how to mix drinks as if they want to do shooters with me rather than hire me.

          • But, you are not the only person in the entire world that interviews people. SO, maybe *you* don’t care, but maybe other people do. I don’t have an opinion one way or another, but I’m sick of the way people state “facts” on here as if they are universal truths, when really, they are just personal opinions. If its a personal opinion, it should be stated as such.

          • That was a reply to Anon, and not KM.

          • I interview people as well, and I disagree rather strongly. “Social life” isn’t how I’d put it, but “did something other than spend four years in the library cramming” is a plus for me. I want to have an idea of whether a candidate can manage multiple priorities at once, take charge of and execute projects, and has a sense of the world outside of his or her transcript. College activities can make a difference in that case.

          • @cbackson: I feel like I can get that from an in-person interview, though–the sense that this person was not a grind and will be personable and good to have around the office. Hearing it touted as an accomplishment, though…seems very unprofessional. I don’t look as highly on people who highlight Greek experience on their resumes when I’m the one doing the interviewing. (A mention is fine.)

        • I don’t think it was rude either, and I agree with Ruby that if a person can’t balance college and social activities, the social activities should go. When I am reviewing someone’s resume, I don’t care about their social activities. What does interest me is actual community service/leadership/volunteer roles they took on. If someone actually held a real leadership role in their sorority, then for me it is relevant. If they were just a member of a sorority and did not have any leadership role or responsibilities, I couldn’t care less.

          • I think social activities are helpful, particularly in a profession where you will have to work to get business. Being in a sorority is at least somewhat indicative of your abilities to socialize with others, and it also will give you connections that can help in the long term. As an employer, I think it would be a plus.

          • “Being in a sorority is at least somewhat indicative of your abilities to socialize with others”

            I don’t think that’s true. Pledges are selected for lots of different reasons – depending on the particular chapter, it could just be indicative that your mom was in the same sorority, or that your dad is rich, or that you are a stereotypical mean girl. Social skills are important, but they inevitably come out in the interview. Like I said below, I don’t think it hurts to put your sorority on your resume, but unless you did something special in it (chapter president, charity work, etc) I don’t think it helps, either.

      • anonymous the fifth :

        I don’t think you’re rude, merely inaccurate. Whether college is hard depends on where you went to school, what you majored in, how hard you worked, whether you had to work at a job outside of your studies, what else was going on with you life.

        Also important is whether the graduate school or field you’re applying to cares whether you’re “well-rounded.” In some fields, they just want you to have a terrific academic record and to be a decent person, not the life of the party or president material.

        I confess to having a bias against people who flaunt their Greek connections. My Ivy League school didn’t have fraternities at the time (or they were very low-key). Instead, there were private clubs that were very snobby and which I couldn’t have afforded to join even had I been asked.

        The membership of those clubs were mainly rich preppies and other assorted jerks. At least they many of them were smart. They produced people like Winkelvoss twins.

        For me, and I’m sure it is a stereotype, Greek organizations produce stupid, rowdy frat boys and sorority sisters who are incredibly parochial, undistinguished, uninteresting, and they never outgrow it.

        They’re low-rent snobs. If I have a choice, I take high-rent.

        • anonymous the fifth :

          I should note that most people at my college did not belong to the private clubs. They were exclusive, small, and incredibly expensive. Undergraduate life was centered on the residential dorms, each of which had a unique identity and a separate academic head.

      • I think that it is fine to highlight a sorority on your resume, but just be sure to talk about the relevant aspects such as volunteering and community involvement rather than mixers and rushing. Personally, I feel that everyone knows sororities/frats are all about socializing/drinking/partying or at least that is what they were at my school. It also depends on the field/interviewer. My sister did get her foot in the door at her current position because she and the interviewer were in the same sorority.

        • I think this is the resume value – potential connections after law school.

          And, as a partial aside, I know that there are certain people in the Greek community who espouse the view that leadership–and particularly, Greek leadership–is a huge plus factor for law school admissions. I found this out when a friend’s mom expressed dismay that I got into a much better law school than her daughter, despite my lack of Greek connections.

      • While snarky in tone, the point is still valid. Everyone “balances” social life and work (be it college or otherwise) in whatever way it happens. Some do so with an “active social life” (i.e. time with friends and family), while others are much less social. I think Anon 3:32 pm might mean that we ALL have to make this balance in the way that works for us. Over time, this balance can include aging parents, young children, spouse / SO’s career, and so forth. Sometimes our inability to balance shows in work performance (lower grades, fewer billable hours, etc.).

        Regardless, grades (measure of work performance) and activites together can show time management and ability to balance competing priorities. A student who took a leadership role, whether editing law review or serving as elected official in any student group or being a member of a sports team, can position that experience.

        Thus, I wouldn’t say “balance college and social life”. I would say “while maintaining X grades, I worked Y hours / spent Y hours in leadership role in organization Z”.

      • College is not hard? Try being Pre-Med.

    • question for Anon123? :

      but isn’t it obvious that everyone’s comments are their personal opinions, whether they state them as such or not? does that have to explicitly stated?

      or is your issue more with the tone of some people’s comments in general?

      • My issue is with the tone. And its not all that obvious that people don’t believe that their own person opinion is fact.

        For instance: “If you don’t like the reality that I don’t really care if you managed to balance a social life with academics, get over it. The real world doesn’t care that you did.”

        Sure, *you* don’t care that someone did, but someone may. To say, “the real world doesn’t care” implies that you speak for all of us living in the “real world.” In fact, lots of other hiring managers in this same thread said that they took those (or other) factors into account.

  3. I think a lot of this is geographical. I live in the Northeast. I am in two scholastic honor societies that sound like sororities. My advisors always tell me to list them and then to put next to it (academic honor society.) I have a friend who was in an engineering fraternity. He also spells his out rather than just using the greek letters. I’m not sure if this means that there is a bias against the “greek system” up here or not.

    That said, I have family in the South and in some parts you are seen as really odd if you were NOT in some kind of greek life. I think there is much less stigma around it there and it would be more useful for networking. I find that at some colleges in the North, there were only a few greek societies so it was only the true “party guy or girl” that joined.

    • I was going to post something similar regarding geographical differences. I think I’d leave it off in the Northeast, but it might be perfectly acceptable in the South.

      Of course, I wasn’t in a sorority and less than 10% of my school belonged to them.

    • I would agree with the statement that these affiliations can evoke vastly different reactions depending on the geographic area (for example, physical proximity to the school where the interviewers might know of the specific chapter of the Greek organization), but I don’t think the reaction will be a blanketed “approval” or “disapproval” based on the region of the country. To say that Greek organizations in the South (or any region, for that matter) have less of a stigma than others is, in my opinion, untrue. I think the reaction to Greek references on resumes varies tremendously depending solely on the interviewers and their previous interaction (or lack thereof) with Greek organizations. As unpredictable as that is, there’s simply no way to know how your interviewers will feel about your sorority involvement.

      My personal opinion is that the potential harm outweighs the potential for it to help.

      • This. Sure, there is a chance that your interviewer will be from your sorority. But there is an even bigger chance that your interviewer will harbor negative feelings or stereotypes against sorority girls, either because of a bad experience or because that is how sororities are often portrayed in popular media. The chance of meeting a fellow sister who might help you out is pretty minimal compared to the chance of meeting someone who hates sorority girls or at the very least isn’t impressed by them. Too risky, in my opinion.

    • anonymous the fifth :

      I was about to say that I also associate Greek life with the South. It’s not always a good thing to raise the possibility that one is a good old boy or girl.

      Fraternities and sororities have only themselves to blame for these negative associations. The hazings, the cruel humiliations, the petty tyrannies, the racism, I could go on and on.

  4. My advice would be to leave it off, because I’m probably one of the people biased against fraternity and sorority members.

    • I wouldn’t say that I’m biased against the members, and I have and had plently of friends who were in them, but the whole concept just makes me cringe and I’ve never understood why people join them. (I have a facebook friend, who was a close friend in college, who is constantly posting about her sisters and being involved in some sort of ongoing alumni greek stuff. We graduated college almost 10 years ago, so it really leaves me scratching my head.) So I’m having a hard time separating out that bias from the question. Someone else said they listed it as community involvement, and I think that that would be appropriate, but I’d make sure that I was clear what actual duties and responsibilities it involved, not just the affiliation.

    • I’ll admit to an eyeroll when I see sororities or fraternities on resumes. But I went to school in the Northeast (and live there now) — though I am from VA and base it on scenes I didn’t really appreciate.

    • My gut reaction upon learning about someone’s Greek membership is that the person is a c0nformist. N.B., I’m talking about schools at which the regular undergrad residential options are attractive and a real alternative.

  5. I think it’s fine to put it a leadership position in your sorority on your resume. Being in a sorority or fraternity is very common, and I don’t think it’s likely to cause you to be discriminated against and it could even help if the person reading your resume was a member of the same sorority. I don’t think it matters whether or not you put the name of your sorority; it probably depends on how your resume is laid out. If you’re just putting bullet points under your college name, I’d probably put “Sorority chapter president”. If you do put the Greek name, you should add sorority afterwards (e.g. “Alpha Gamma Delta Sorority chapter president”) because there are other organizations that use Greek letters and it may not be obvious to someone reading your resume that you’re referring to a sorority.

    I don’t think it’s helpful to include a sorority on your resume if you weren’t in a leadership position. At best, it’s just resume filler in the same way that “chess club” would be.

    Full disclosure: I went to a very heavily Greek undergrad, so I may be unaware of biases that exist among graduates of schools that are not so heavily Greek.

    • I agree, Ruby. Putting the name doesn’t matter. Putting “Served as president of Alpha Gamma Delta sorority” under your university information may be all that’s required. In Reader C’s case, she could put “led and organized ___ for ___ sorority and served as counselor to students going through rush process.” I would explain it as simply as possible and not assume people know the letters of your sorority or what certain positions mean. Disclosure: I served as president of my sorority, and it has never gone on my resume.

    • What Ruby said. I was in a sorority in undergrad and was minimally involved. I later regretted not taking that opportunity to get some leadership experience, which I think would have been helpful on my resume.

  6. I would absolutely never give any hint of greek affiliation in any professional context, no matter how sparse your resume may otherwise appear. The bias against the stereotypical ditzy, Ugg-wearing sorority girl is so prevalent, and I know many people who proudly admit to using this excuse to eliminate job candidates. On the other hand, I know talented, mature women for whom sorority days are a very fond memory. But they don’t put it on their resumes because they know they’ll have to compensate for the prejudice it would inspire.

    • The vehemence of this comment gives me pause. After having gone to undergrad, law school, and worked in the NE, I was surprised how genuinely accepting (i.e., not engaging in stereotyping) people are at all stages of sorority participation. Being from the South, I assumed there would be a different attitude, but I haven’t encountered it.

      From a normative point of view, it is very sad to me that prospective employers would use membership in a women’s organization to weed out job candidates. I wouldn’t expect someone to hire someone because they were in a sorority (grades, experience, accomplishments should matter), just as I wouldn’t expect someone NOT to hire someone for the same reason (grades, experience, accomplishments should matter).

      • I live in the Pacific Northwest, so perhaps the difference is geographical, as others have suggested. The problem, as I see it, is the stereotype – in my community at least, that sororities are not really seen as supportive of women, but instead are thought of as anti-intellectual and cliquey, with a heavy emphasis on drinking. It may not be true, but a lot of people around here have that association, and with it, your resume goes in the recycle bin.

        • R in Boston :

          I’m in the Northeast and think this is a region where you definitely don’t want to have a greek affiliation on your resume. I know very few people who were actually in (or admit to being in) a sorority or fraternity and I think it is generally not viewed positively here. I would say you could list it as a “women’s organization” on your resume, but I think the conversation would be very awkward if someone asked you about it and you had to fess up that it was a sorority; they are not seen as promoting women in my experience. My guess is that Emma has encountered the anti-greek org attitude, just in people who were decent enough not to be rude to her.

          *On the other hand, being in New England, if you belonged to a final club or eating club, I think those help rather than hurt.

          • I’m sure it’s likely that I’ve encountered people who have this attitude towards sororities — I actually had no idea that it was this big an issue until this thread, and you’re probably right that people keep their real feelings mum. I should point out, though, that I don’t wear my sorority membership on my sleeve, never talk about it, and 90% of acquaintances don’t know I was in one. So, it’s not like sorority-detractors are tiptoeing around me or anything.

            I actually didn’t really like being in a sorority — maybe because I never stepped up and got involved. My mind is just blown that people think it’s okay to stereotype job applicants on this basis — and I still resist that conclusion, to some extent. Because the vast majority of women in my sorority were involved in a number of laudable on-campus organizations, were serious students, and have met with extraordinary success post graduation, and it would be ridiculous for employers to conclude these women weren’t qualified based on the affiliation.

          • *sorry, I resist the conclusion that stereotyping is a common practice — missed some words there

          • R in Boston :

            @Emma
            I agree – it is as silly a basis as anything else on which to stereotype, but I think it does happen. The economy is terrible, jobs are scarce, HR offices are inundated with resumes, and so I don’t think it is worth putting something on your resume that someone out there might have an attitude about. I feel the same way about any number of “know your audience” resume lines (religious activities, as discussed in a thread a few weeks ago, certain political activities, etc.).

            Your experience, though, shows more of the picture, I think. While people may stereotype when they have little else to go on (i.e. at the resume stage), they often don’t lean on the stereotype when they actually know the person. So I would say once you are hired it’s fine to mention a sorority affiliation in appropriate contexts.

          • I grew up in NYC, went to undergrad at Wellesley (in Massachusetts), then worked in banking in NYC, then law school in DC (which I suppose is borderline South … but not really … ) and I’m now at a big firm in NYC. I’ve interviewed lots of people and it’s never occurred to me to come to any conclusions about a candidate simply because he or she was in a fraternity or sorority. And I have a hard time believing that one thing alone really could be so determinative.

            Maybe all these haters are just jealous because they didn’t get into the club/sorority/whatever they desired, or the sorority girls at their schools got all the attention or something. For the record, there were no sororities at my undergrad.

          • As someone who grew up & went to college in New England, I don’t even know what a final club or eating club is.!

          • @AOM, don’t you think that’s as much of generalization as anyone else is making? Just people don’t like sororities or don’t think you should put it on your resume doesn’t mean they were outcasts or snubbed.

          • Beware of Greeks :

            @ Emma:

            When I have a bias, I usually go out of my way to be fair. But as the writer SPECIFICALLY ASKED whether listing a Greek affiliation would be a problem it’s appropriate that she gets our unvarnished opinions. Actually, I didn’t think there would be such a negative reaction. Good to know.

            @Anna D:

            Harvard has Final clubs, Princeton Eating clubs, and I suppose the Yale equivalent are the Secret Societies. For whatever it’s worth, in “The Social Network,” the character of Mark Zuckerberg is motivated in large part by revenge at being turned down by the Final Clubs at Harvard. He has to make due with the “Jewish fraternity,” which he thinks is a social come-down. Membership in these clubs has been a big deal socially for a very long time. Joseph P. Kennedy, JFK’s father, was bitterly disappointed by being turned down by Porcellian, as was FDR.

            I agree with the commenter who said that in the NE membership in one of those clubs is probably a plus.

            The fact that I know this crap doesn’t mean I approve. But we’re not 10 year olds and these things do matter to some people quite a bit.

          • Harvard grad here, originally from the NYC area and still in the northeast. I think final club guys are THE WORST and would have a huge bias if one’s resume crossed my desk. Is every last person from one a pretentious sleaze ball? No. Are many of them successful professionally? Yes, of course. But ick!! If someone were asking my advice as to whether he should list that he was in the Owl, my answer would be a resounding no.

  7. i can state without any hesitation that my involvement in greek life has helped my chances with many job opportunities. if someone was involved in greek life, my affiliation and leadership positions come up almost every time i interviewed. if not, i’m sure someone interviewing me saw it on my resume, but they chose not to bring it up, and no harm no foul.

    while i’m sure some professors love to hold on to antiquated view of the greek system that comes from watching animal house too many times, i would be shocked if “all” feel that way – as any professor i counseled about my resume in college felt that including greek life involvement was an added bonus.

    it all goes back to this – one of the reasons i joined a sorority was because it made it easier to make friends and find mentors through college. in my post-grad life, it still makes it easier to have a commonality, but not all of my friends are greek. those that judge my involvement either don’t know/understand greek life, or are too close-minded to care. do you want a boss who is too close-minded to recognize your leadership role in an organization of ~300 women (such were numbers at my school)?

    • I went to Northwestern (Kat’s alma mater). I held leadership positions in my sorority and put them on my resume when applying for jobs. I networked heavily and went to bat for younger sorority sisters of mine to be hired by the company I worked for. Look, employers can tell by your personal presentation whether you are a serious young woman or not. They can tell by your school what kinds of academic chops you have. If it’s a leadership position, put it. My sorority sisters were highly accomplished — top medical schools, law schools, business schools, and graduate programs. Yes, there are ditzy sorority girls at other schools, but that’s irrelevant to smart girls going to good schools.

  8. Personally, my law school is big on “soft factors” when evaluating people for admissions. They would be impressed by any substantial leadership position and likely wouldn’t have much against Greek affiliations if sold in that fashion. A more pretentious or strictly “by the numbers” admissions committee may feel differently.

    • I really feel like it all comes down to how you sell it. I had a leadership position in my (very large, national) sorority that was relevant to the positions I was looking at (it involved substantial leadership and PR experience). Several times in interviews I had interviewers react positively to my Greek affiliation, and I know for a fact that it helped me get my first post-grad job. So I would absolutely include it on the resume, with the Greek letters. Writing “sorority president” just seems silly to me, and not as legitimate as “Alpha Beta Delta International Sorority – President of Alpha Chapter” (don’t know if that’s a real organization, just chose them randomly). If the interviewer brings it up, don’t say you “led a group of girls” say you were the “vice president of a committee of 20 women.” Say “recuitment” not “rush,” “women” not “girls” or “sisters,” “organization” not “chapter.” Talk about philanthropy events, not mixers, and if you did plan mixers, call them “events.” Act proud of your position and of your time spent with the organization. Most people understand that there some sororities are very serious and professional and some are all about partying, just make it clear that yours was the former. Be proud of your experience, you worked hard for it!

      • This. Tweak that resume until it twists right into place! It’s all in the framing.

        • Agreed! Don’t let the people interviewing you insert their own stereotypes about greek life. Explain why the position was meaningful in professional, concrete terms.

      • Agreed. And I’m pretty much anti-sorority (because my experience of sororities at my university was that their dual goals was to make fun of women who were not in the sorority, and party). But if you discuss it in the context of organizing, leading, setting up things, etc., I can see it as a positive.

      • Agreed. I’ll add that, although I was in a sorority myself, I wouldn’t list it on my resume if I hadn’t held a leadership position that I was prepared to speak about in interviews and connect to my career.

  9. Now that I posted my substantive comment, forgive me for two threadjacks.

    1.) I have a blue leather Brooks Brother’s bag. It has suede lining inside. Little particles are coming off the lining that look like the junk leftover after using an eraser. It is getting all over my stuff. I think I am going to try vacuuming it out. Other ideas?

    2.) I was recently asked ot join a very prestigous board in my community. I just went to the first meeting. Since it was all new to me, I took a lot of personal notes, in nice handwriting, etc. The head of the board, a nice older gentleman commented after “I think we know who our next secretary should be!” (Meaning Secretary of the Board, minute taker, etc.) I am a big fan of NGDGTCO. It stresses that women should avoid note taking roles. Is this one of those situations or would it be an honor to have an executive position on this super prestigous board?

    • Lana Lang :

      1) No idea I’m afraid. Double sided tape maybe?

      2) How are the psitions decided? I.e. will there be an opportunity for you to put yourself forward to be e.g. treasurer, or ask someone to propose you for a role? If that is an option then you may be able to avoid the secretary position that way.

      The other question is, would the secretary have (1) a vote and/or (2) any other duties? Will a ‘no’ to both make you not want to do it? Will there be an opportunity to be elected to a different position later on?

      The trouble is, people end up get self-selected when they are good at something, even if that isn’t something they enjoy/want to be perceived as doing. If it is a choice of not being on the board at all or being secretary, I would pick being secretary, but if you have an option, then it’s a different ball game.

      I don’t know what the answer is, but just some food for thought…

    • Secretary Today, Chair Tomorrow? :

      If your board has a clear ladder to becoming Chair (Secretary, then Treasurer, then Vice Chair, then Chair), I’d do it. Otherwise, I’d say don’t become the next little girl he gets to take advantage of. He can take his own *#)*!&# notes.

      • Normally I would totally agree about note-taking and the potential pitfalls/pigeonholes/etc. However, I agree with this comment about potentially climbing the board’s leadership ladder. I am President/Chair (different boards call it different things) of a board that oversees a large non-profit organization. The Executive Committee is comprised of the officers of the board (Pres, VP, Secretary and Treasurer) and that’s the group that handles all personnel issues and other “sensitive” issues that do not fall to the entire board. It’s very valuable experience and leadership development. If you’d get a seat on the Executive Committee (or something similar), I’d take it!

    • It seems that the gentleman suggested you for the position because you have demonstrated the necessary skills, and not because he’s pigeonholing you based on gender. The reason NGDGTCO says to avoid notetaking roles is because you don’t want to be pigeonholed based on gender. In this case, and especially since it’s an executive, leadership position, I think even Lois Frankel herself would tell you to take it.

      The only caveat I’d add is to make sure you know what the job entails. Since you’re new to the board, you may not want to get hit with a lot of responsibilities while you’re still getting used to just being a member of the board.

      • SF Bay Associate :

        I think Lois Frankel would say to suggest a rotation. It’s not life-and-death how accurate the notes are, so it would not be a huge problem if Charlie takes notes next week and they aren’t as nice as yours. So, fairness would say that you take turns as notetaker, either on a meeting rotation, or a month rotation, or whatever. Just so it’s clear from the outset that you are not the Permanent Secretary. And be sure to avoid other “secretarial” responsibilities. You are not ordering the food, you are not booking the conference rooms. Just like notetaking, it should all rotate. I’d also suggest that the notetaker not be the food-orderer, just to keep the admin responsibilities distributed.

        Are there any senior women on this board? Have there ever been any? I would try to get in touch with them for a cup of coffee to see how this board works.

        • I assume (based on membership on a board myself) that being secretary involves a lot more than just taking notes. It’s an executive board position! Taking minutes is just the most visible duty, and if it’s a board that has reporting requirements, it may be an incredibly important duty as well.

        • Beware of Greeks :

          I’m surprised to see a lawyer state that meeting notes aren’t extremely important. (I assume that this is an organization of some importance.)

          But yes, if it’s a dog job, the OP should try to rotate the task.

    • Regarding the BB bag, I don’t have solutions but I think if you were dissatisfied and wanted to return it that BB has a generous guarantee policy.

      On the BOD question, a board Secretary is different from someone taking notes at a firm’s meeting or event. Being made to take notes at a company meeting can be (but is not always) demeaning.

      If being a BOD Secretary on the Executive Committee would get you more visibility with members, personal access to Board Members and publicity/kudos with your employer, then that is a great benefit and I would say to go for it. Some BODs pay for secretarial services such as newsletters, filing of board meeting minutes etc., and those would be tasks that would be more drudge work.

    • 1) Try emptying the bag, flipping it inside out, and lightly brushing the suede lining with a soft brush. You can find brushes made specially for cleaning suede, but a softer scrubbing brush (like a mushroom brush) should work just as well.

    • Congratulations on being selected to the board! And as someone in the nonprofit world, thank you for taking your job seriously — too many people do not.

      Find out what exactly the roles of secretary are. On our board, the secretary is part of the executive committee and is therefore more involved with decisions about the organization. I would think that is only a good thing for you.

  10. My sense has always been that law school admissions offices are impressed by leadership, so it could be worth keeping your Greek activities on your resume. Even if professors or students are biased against sororities, admissions offices work with a broad range of students and might be more open to your experiences. (You have to figure that they’ve met smart sorority girls before.)

    Different but related: if you apply to Teach for America, definitely put all of your Greek activities on your resume! TFA loves leadership experience in any context, and a lot of TFA corps members were in Greek organizations as undergrads.

  11. I included my sorority affiliation and offices on my resume when applying to law school and summer internships. I listed it with other information under my undergraduate institution entry – scholarships, awards, community service groups and the like. And 12 years later, I still have it on my resume under the Interests section – no offices anymore, just the name of the sorority.
    I have reviewed dozens of resumes for summer associate candidates and nearly all of them list their Greek affiliations and any offices they held.

  12. Business, not Law :

    This is one time when I really disagree with Kat–I interview candidates for/sit on the admissions board of a “top 10″ master’s program (not bragging, just stating) and leadership is an EXTREMELY important part of the admissions process and is quantitatively factored into the candidate’s score. Perhaps this is different for law school admissions? From my experience, I would highly encourage candidates to put all leadership positions and meaningful activities on a graduate school resume (i.e. volunteer work, Greek life activities)

    I live in the south and was a member of the Greek system in college so take this for what it’s worth, but I am not offended or put off in the least by seeing Greek life activities on a student’s resume. It has actually HELPED candidates because there were often very concrete examples of leadership and ethics that were demonstrated and have given prompts of things for me to talk about. I’ve noticed a trend in the past year or so for students to just list “Social Sorority” instead of the actual affiliation and I don’t like that as much because knowing the actual affiliation can help with connections and ice-breaking…”Oh I know such and such advisor” or “My sister in law was an XYZ at your school as well”.

  13. Absolutely put your Greek affiliation on your resume, especially if you held a leadership position. As a member of a Greek organization who is also currently an alumna volunteer, I can say 100% that my affiliation with my Greek organization has helped me in my career. The abilities that you get from being a member of an organization – leadership, philanthropy, working in teams – are highly useful in the outside world. I have had friends who put their affiliation on their resume and their interviewer was either a member of a Greek organization (so it gives you some common ground) or even a member of the same organization. Be proud of the organization that you voluntarily chose to be a part of.

  14. Diana Barry :

    I absolutely wouldn’t list it, but I bet that this is regional. I am in the northeast and many people here would look on a sorority girl as fluffy, and a greek guy as a tool.

    • Completely, completely, 100% agree. I would never put a Greek affiliation on a resume and if I saw one, I would think that the individual was just scraping to find things to put on a resume. (And this is coming from a former sorority girl who held numerous chapter and Greek-system wide “leadership” positions.) If you’re in the Greek system and are truly interested in leadership, you’re going to be doing things that are far more impressive (like honor societies, elected student government offices, etc.) that would be worthwhile to put on a resume. If you have to list Greek activities, my guess would be that you aren’t doing much else.

      • At my school, student government and honor societies were WAY less impressive accomplishments, and much easier leadership opportunities, than Green organizations.

        • Huh, that’s interesting. Where I went to school, things like Phi Beta Kappa and Mortar Board actually meant something and being involved in student government was a lot of work. Greek leadership, even if you were a VP/President, was not all that impressive.

          • PBK was more prestigious at my college (and it’s still on my resume 8 years later, while my sorority is not), but it didn’t offer any leadership opportunities at all. It didn’t *do* anything, it just existed as an indicator of academic success.

        • former equestrian :

          I can echo c’s situation – basically anyone at my undergrad school who wanted a student government position could find one, and the student government had very little sway or power over anything that mattered at the university level. Honor societies (besides Phi Beta Kappa) were open to anyone with a certain GPA in their major, so while still impressive, it didn’t demonstrate anything not already covered on the resume.
          The Panhellenic Society, which was the umbrella organization for Greek groups, had a lot of funding from alumni and voice in the administration because of their abilities to generate alumni support. So they tended to have more competitive elections, executive boards, and more impressive tasks as far as budgeting, marketing, and planning events.
          And I say all this as an impartial observer who spent 90% of my time outside of class with the equestrian team.

    • Alanna of Trebond :

      I completely agree, mainly because my good friend was in charge of screening resumes for a well regarded consulting firm, and she definitely screened out everyone who put a “leadership” position from a Greek organization (although particularly frats, rather than sororities) because she knew the schools, and knew that most of the leadership positions meant “pledge-master” etc.

      Also, I think that social activities and leadership roles are extremely important, but something like a Greek organization is something you do for yourself. You go to college to excel at school, and if you happen to be amazing enough to be able to excel socially as well, this will come across in many more flattering ways than Greek membership. I would never put my eating club on my resume, for example.

    • This – I think it’s pretty clear at this point that this is a regional issue. I think part of the problem is that in the NE, schools that actually have sororities/fraternities are not as common, and the ones that do have them have sometimes had very difficult relationships with them (see the recent lawsuit at Yale www(dot)theblaze(dot)com/stories/yale-students-file-sexual-harassment-suit-against-the-university/ ).

      I went to school in the south, but work in the NE, and whereas I would have definitely put an affiliation (I’m not, but speaking hypothetically) down if I was interviewing in the south, I would not nowadays.

    • I’m going to disagree – slightly. I was in a sorority as an undergrad in the South, went to law school in NYC, and later worked at a big NY firm. I think it’s fine to list a leadership sorority position on a law school application to a school in the Northeast, unless it was social chair (or the equivalent). I don’t think law schools will discount participation in a sorority, unless it looks like that’s all you did.

      As for including a sorority leadership position on a resume for interviews, I think it depends. I wouldn’t absolutely rule it out in the Northeast, particularly for on-campus interviews where you have assigned interviews by lottery. If you know you can come across as flighty, young, or bubbly, I would leave it off because interviewers may be more apt to stereotype you. In my case, I did not fit the stereotypical “sorority girl” so I wasn’t worried about making that impression. I also think it matters what kind of leadership position you had. I was responsible for enforcing the standards and rules of my sorority, and I thought this was actually slightly relevant to a legal career. At the very least, it showed that I was perceived as a “rule follower.” That doesn’t hurt. I don’t remember very many people asking me about it during on-campus and subsequent interviews. If they did, I emphasized what I did (enforced standards and rules), downplayed the social aspects, and moved on to another topic. However, I definitely took this off my resume once I got my first job at a firm and had professional experience to describe (I now work in house).

      Finally, I’d like to point out one unanticipated benefit of being in a sorority. Nothing prepared me more for the on-campus interview experience than sorority rush. At my undergrad school, rush was very organized and programmed. At a particular time, you would show up at a sorority, and meet with a certain number of sorority members for a set amount of time. It was like speed dating. Or on-campus interviews. As a participant on both sides of the rush process, I graduated from school able to make small talk with anyone about anything in a short period of time. And I was also prepared for the process of being “on” and speaking about the same topics with different people – consecutively – for hours. It also helped keep the on-campus interview process in perspective. It’s just like rush – slightly ridiculous and random.

      • Your last paragraph — spot on. Rush and OCI are similarly exhausting. I made the connection too when I was doing OCI my 1L year. You also talk about similar things believe it or not — or at least, I found that to be true.

  15. Lana Lang :

    Quite interesting and my £0.02 is perhaps not as useful since we don’t have the Greek system in the UK, but I can’t help but recall the part in Legally Blonde 2 where Elle meets the Congresswoman who was in her sorority.

    I expect there are too many different sororities to count, but I expect at least some will provide you a great network and if, for example, you knew that a hiring partner had been a member of the same sorority as you, why not put it down on your CV?

  16. Leadership roles and grad school applications? I would definitely leave it on. There’s so much more that’s more important — grades, LSAT, letters of rec — that I can’t imagine this mattering much and you definitely don’t want to eliminate leadership.

    Now for law school internships, where your resume is front and center, I’d probably take it off or make it a one-liner at most.

  17. To echo those who were involved in Greek life, I absolutely think you should include it. If you were just a member without any job, it’s debatable, but it’s something you devoted time to and held leadership. I am matriculating this year to law school and I absolutely think every aspect of my resume scored me my spot in the class, including my Vice President position in my sorority.

    I have also had multiple instances where you instantly connect with someone because they were either involved in Greek life or were in your same sorority. The networking potential is great – so wear your Greek affiliation loud and proud (though don’t go overboard, as we all know there is more to life…)

    Good Luck, as someone who just went through the admissions process, it’s tenuous but it all pays off!!!

  18. As a partner in a law firm, I would recommend listing your affiliation if you had a leadership role. I have always been proud of my affiliation and leadership roles in my sorority, and I consider the leadership of over 100 other people – women! – to be a sign of the respect of your peers, the acceptance of responsibility at a young age, and the willingness to rise to a challenge you did not have to take on.

  19. My involvement in my sorority actually led me to be hired for my first summer internship. I held the position of Public Relations officer and, as someone going into advertising, many of my potential employers were impressed that I already had experience with advertising, media management, and other skills. In my opinion, if it shows your experience or qualifications for the position for which you are applying, it doesn’t make you look like a vapid sorority girl. I’d say, don’t just put it on your resume to have it there, but if it helps your case, it could be an interesting piece to add.

  20. I live in the South and my Sorority affiliation and leadership roles have been tremendously helpful in networking and job transition. Through my alum club, I was a board member for a holiday marketplace that generates close to $1M each year for charity. My budget was over $40K and my position involved a lot of contract negotiation. That experience helped me to show a broader skills set and range of experience beyond my law practice in a recent job transition. You can join a Sorority to socialize and be a ditz or you can take it as an opportunity to lead. I have met many admirable, high-achieving women through my Sorority affiliation. I ignore the others.

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