Marketing experts say that consumers love choice… but I’m not so sure. Especially in a day and age where all of us are, for some reason, becoming more indecisive, having too much choice can be supremely frustrating. So, when the starry-eyed freshmen, sophomores and even juniors like me wander into Bartels Hall for ClubFest this semester, they might as well be flipping through the terrifyingly gargantuan menu of The Cheesecake Factory. Even after narrowing down our menu options – like only looking at the Glamburger section (love you Cheesecake!), it’s still daunting.
Today, we’ll be diving straight into the Business Fraternity section of the business menu. This is a particularly high-profile world that many business-minded Cornellians try dipping their feet into. Yet, despite successful branding and outreach efforts of the four business fraternities, many of the internal workings are either (1) misunderstood or (2) rarely disclosed. In preparation for recruitment this year, I’ve taken the liberty to interview the presidents of each organization. Hopefully, the responses here will be able to adequately address the burning questions and concerns that impending rushees (or interested students) may have.
The interviews have been aggregated below.
Question 1: Why does Cornell need business fraternities? Don’t we already have a great reputation on Wall Street?
Alpha Kappa Psi [Andrea Quartner]: A common misconception about business fraternities is that they only focus on finance recruitment. While this is a huge focus of ours, our primary objective is to develop our network in a variety of industries and on-campus organizations. This diverse network is our core asset, and we work hard to sustain and expand this community. From a professional development perspective, a business fraternity, and specifically Alpha Kappa Psi, offers you the opportunity to expand your learning outside of the classroom and make the most out of your time at Cornell University.
With this, it is not lost on anyone that Cornell is a huge school, and it can be difficult for some people to find their place and community. Our pledging is focused on developing meaningful relationships with each member of the brotherhood through pledge-brother interviews. Outside of this formalized process, we have events such as homecoming tailgates, alumni nights in NYC and lineage and member class dinners. Our brotherhood is defined by our friendships, between class years, member classes and through our alumni network. By taking advantage of the opportunities provided by Alpha Kappa Psi, the members of our brotherhood have forged bonds and friendships that I am confident will last beyond our college careers.
Delta Sigma Pi [Kimmy Letzler]: Cornell does enjoy a strong connection on Wall Street currently. There are many graduates who have secured jobs on Wall Street without the benefits of a business fraternity, so I would not begin to say that the only way to get one of those positions is through a business fraternity. I will say that business fraternities do offer some unique opportunities that can be helpful in beginning a successful career. Business fraternities are tight-knit networks that emphasize their member’s development and advancement, and assist them in becoming professionally sound. They allow members to explore their interests and become educated about postgraduate opportunities. We are committed to helping each brother, so we strengthen the entire fraternity through the success of each brother. A business fraternity cannot guarantee that every brother will land the job they want, but membership does have its advantages, such as individual and invite-only networking opportunities and coffee chats with firms that are unavailable to others. Membership in a business fraternity is an impressive extracurricular for job candidates, as well. Firms understand that business fraternity’s pledging process draws in candidates that are dedicated, driven and serious about their professional future. From a personal point of view, my membership in a business fraternity helped me to find and focus on the fields of business that I ultimately decided I wanted to pursue. My experience has been that the people you find in business fraternities are unlike any other. They are social, friendly, driven and hardworking students who end up becoming some of your very best friends on campus.
Phi Gamma Nu [Michael Beveridge]: I think the answer to this question is really two-fold. Firstly, business fraternities provide an avenue to connect students with recruiters on a more personal basis than general information sessions and career fair booths. Through private networking sessions for fraternity members only, and other sponsored coffee chats open to the public, both brothers and non-brothers get exposure to these firms they might not otherwise have. Additionally, business fraternities are a great avenue for non-traditional firms to get a foothold in the crowded recruiting landscape at Cornell. Boutique banks, and other smaller firms who might not have a reason or the means to recruit at Cornell can be attracted to campus through connections from business fraternities.
Secondly, and building off that last point about non-traditional firms and career paths, business fraternities provide an avenue for students to find internships and full-time opportunities outside of Wall Street. I believe Dyson sends about 50% of students into finance, and 25% into consulting – it’s difficult to find careers in fields like marketing, non-profits, politics, etc. because there isn’t as much support in those areas. Business fraternities get students exposure to fields that they might not have ever heard of, and can help develop and hone unknown passions.
Personally, I know PGN really helped me in finding my own career and developing my own interests. When I transferred into Dyson, I had no idea what field I wanted to enter, and felt overwhelmed as so many of my peers had strong interests and experiences in consulting and banking. Before I joined PGN, I thought I would end up on Wall Street or in a consulting firm. After talking to brothers throughout rush and the new member process, and actually speaking to someone who’d worked brand management, I realized not only what I didn’t want to do, but was also able to find and secure an internship in marketing at SC Johnson.
Pi Sigma Epsilon [David Feuerstein]: Since joining my business fraternity in the fall of sophomore year, I have heard numerous students question the necessity of business fraternities given Cornell’s strong alumni network. A business fraternity should not be looked at as just a new alumni network, but instead as a community within which to develop professionally. While many of our members do receive internships and full time roles through PSE alumni, PSE teaches you about yourself, your professional interests and creates a social community that each of our members cherish during and after their time here.
A business fraternity can aid you in developing professional skills that will give you an advantage over other candidates in recruitment, and will help you explore various career paths as you go through recruitment. Our brotherhood’s diverse interests allow members to speak with one another and explore a range of career paths.
While you may think that showing up to an interview is all that is required for a role, business fraternities will teach you the skills you need to succeed in any interview environment. Furthermore, by joining a business organization here on campus, you will gain knowledge and experiences that are applicable to all future endeavors. Most importantly, a business fraternity provides you with some of your best friends here on campus and I know any member of PSE would drop anything to help me at a moment’s notice.
Question 2: What makes your business fraternity different from the other three? In fact, what makes your business fraternity different than the dozens of other business organizations on campus?
Alpha Kappa Psi [Andrea Quartner]: Our pledging process focuses on the soft business skills that will make brothers successful in whatever industry they pursue. In order for our new members to find their passion and keep the AKPsi network strong, each new member is responsible for setting up meetings with each of the current brothers to learn more about their lives, both professional and personal. These in-depth conversations serve as a great foundation upon which to develop a meaningful friendship and ensure that, upon initiation, each pledge has developed a personal connection with every member of the brotherhood and understands the various industries and opportunities available on and off campus.
What sets Alpha Kappa Psi apart is our culture is defined by unwavering support and encouragement for each other. The relationships that are developed through Alpha Kappa Psi are formed from a mutual respect and appreciation for the reciprocal nature of the organization, and these relationships extend much further than our time on campus to create powerful bonds that connect different generations of the brotherhood.
Delta Sigma Pi [Kimmy Letzler]: Each of the undergraduate business fraternities has their own culture and personality fit. I highly encourage anyone who is interested in rushing to look at all of the available options. I looked at multiple fraternities in my freshman year and was pleased to find a fit at DSP. Delta Sigma Pi was the only place where I felt I could learn and truly be best friends with all of the brothers. I had never wanted to be a part of an organization as much as I did in my freshman year rushing. My brothers are truly my best friends on campus. For me, the main difference between DSP and other business fraternities was the pledging process. Delta Sigma Pi’s pledging process is purely developmental. We ask that the pledges actively participate in case studies as well as getting to know the brotherhood. Our fraternity places weight on what we can do for our pledges and how will they learn the most. Every part of the process has a clear benefit to the pledges. Because we are all such good friends and enjoy spending time with one another, we always make sure every part of pledging is helping our newest members. Delta Sigma Pi’s pledging process appealed greatly to me, particularly when I was a freshman and did not know what I wanted to do. This process exposed me to many facets of business and helped me to gain an understanding of what I wanted to do with my life. For me, that was the exact reason I wanted to join a business fraternity in the first place.
Phi Gamma Nu [Michael Beveridge]: I think business fraternities generally provide a more comprehensive experience than specialized business organizations like investment clubs because of the wider range of challenges and opportunities you’ll encounter. Inside business fraternities, I think all four of us – AKPsi, DSP, PGN, and PSE – will teach very similar skills (case study prep, business plan development, PowerPoint, interview prep, resume critiques, etc.). The main point of differentiation in each fraternity is the people you’re surrounded by and the culture. I really do consider every person in PGN to be like family to me and all of the support they’ve given me is what’s allowed me to succeed.
Pi Sigma Epsilon [David Feuerstein]: Our close-knit brotherhood, the way we empower our members and our diverse interests set PSE apart from other business fraternities and other business organizations. Our focus on empowerment starts with our new member education process. We work closely with our new members and make the focus of the process on what they want to learn and how they want to improve. We ensure that every assignment benefits them and always encourage our new members to speak up if they are not seeing a goal in their work, or are not achieving the results they had hoped. After the new member education process, we provide our members with every possible opportunity to change PSE for the better. We have an innovative mindset and push our brothers to make their impact whether through creating an event, developing a philanthropic idea or anything else.
I know every organization will say this, but we truly are a close group. I value the friendships I have made through PSE and these friendships extend far past the professional setting. I have come to members of PSE for help on some of my worst days and know I can always count on them.
Lastly, our diverse brotherhood and alumni network allows our members to explore a wide range of industries and speak with alumni with diverse leadership positions, opportunities, and responsibilities.
Question 3: What do you really look for in candidates?
Alpha Kappa Psi [Andrea Quartner]: There is no clear-cut answer to this question. We look for people who are outgoing and personable, excel when working on a team, and have unsurpassed intellectual curiosity. Our diverse brotherhood is brought together by a shared desire to hold ourselves to the highest standard of personal and professional success, and the supportive nature of this brotherhood has allowed each of us to develop the professional skills and confidence required to pursue our individual and collective goals.
Delta Sigma Pi [Kimmy Letzler]: Delta Sigma Pi accepts undergraduate students who have completed at least one semester on Cornell’s campus and have at least three semesters left. There is no specific formula for what we look for in a candidate but we do judge freshman slightly different than we do sophomore and junior potential new members. If you are rushing in your freshman year, we tend to look for enthusiasm, potential and professional goals as opposed to strong campus involvement. For sophomores and juniors, we want to see some sort of commitment to Cornell’s campus in any capacity you can speak to. This can range from business and academic clubs, student government, and even a capella or dance groups. Your Cornell involvement does not have to be “business-focused” – we want to see passionate college students who understand the benefits of the fraternity and want to provide value to it. Delta Sigma Pi looks for driven, bright undergraduates. Because of this we do have a GPA cut-off but we understand that many candidate’s strongest suits lay outside of the classroom so do not be discouraged if your GPA is not your best attribute. As a whole, we value campus involvement, work experience and a dedication to your studies.
As a final note, I would say that we pull most of our data points about given candidates from in-person interactions. Candidates who tend to do the best are the ones who reach out beforehand and show a continued demonstrated interest in Delta Sigma Pi. Candidates who can effectively articulate why they would be a good fit and why they are passionate about our fraternity historically do much better than a 4.0 student who comes out for recruitment with no clear understanding of our fraternity. Reach out, ask questions, and show us why you care and that will speak much louder than any resume you can put forth.
Phi Gamma Nu [Michael Beveridge]: The best candidates are students who are adaptable, self-starters, and willing to be challenged. Our pledge process is challenging, and will definitely push you in ways that many courses and clubs won’t. That positive attitude and drive to succeed will allow candidates to succeed as brothers, and to really shine throughout their time both at Cornell and beyond.
Pi Sigma Epsilon [David Feuerstein]: There are many things that we look for in a PSE candidate. The first of which is passion. We want to see that you truly do want to join PSE and that you are going to make a positive impact on our organization. We are a very flat organization, and some of our best ideas have come from new members. We encourage everyone to contribute, and we want to see a candidate who will step into that role. Additionally, we look for candidates who have demonstrated abilities in their coursework and past experiences, and have demonstrated curiosity and interest in their past endeavors. While we know many people join PSE to develop professional skills, it is always great to see candidates who have already started to work on their professional skills and have a strong desire to improve. Last but not least, we want candidates who get along with our brothers and can appropriately represent the organization. Since we have such a high emphasis on building a social community, we seek candidates who we know will be some of our future best friends.
Question 4: What is a cool event your fraternity has done on campus or plans to do on campus?
Alpha Kappa Psi [Andrea Quartner]: Every semester we host events that are open to the public, such as guest speakers, resume workshops, professional development panels with students and professors, case competitions, and philanthropic events. Last year, we were fortunate enough to host Yahoo CFO Ken Goldman, a case competition sponsored by Deloitte, a philanthropic event that raised over $1,000 for The Common Ground Foundation and many more events. In addition to public events, we also have unique opportunities for brothers. Last year our brotherhood took a trip to New York City to visit the Google, Bank of America, Deloitte and JP Morgan offices. On campus, we have private networking sessions with firms, social events, recruitment prep, such as mock superdays and more. This semester, we are ramping up to host a coding competition. We’ll get back to you soon with more details!
Delta Sigma Pi [Kimmy Letzler]: ConsultingNOW is an annual event that we hold toward the end of October. We bring alumni and connections from three consulting firms together for a full-day workshop to benefit our attendees. We present numerous associates representing some of the best consulting firms in the nation. Last year, we hosted representatives from Deloitte, the Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey. After three workshops with the individual firms, students can present questions to an intern panel that is then followed up with a case competition where students present to the consultants. This is a great opportunity for those who want to learn more about consulting, as well as those who have already determined they want to pursue this career path. This year, we will be holding our fourth-annual ConsultingNOW conference on October 23. Look to our website in the next couple of weeks for more information (cornelldsp.com).
Phi Gamma Nu [Michael Beveridge]: One of our most exciting recent events was a case competition with Oliver Wyman last semester. This was the first time that we’d partnered with a company to bring a case competition to campus, and it was a fantastic learning opportunity. We’re looking forward to hosting more in the future!
Pi Sigma Epsilon [David Feuerstein]: Each semester, we have several brotherhood events, philanthropy events, and professional events with a range of companies. One very exciting event that we are doing on September 6th is our PSE “Snap & Learn.” We will be offering free professional Linkedin headshots for any Cornell student and will have our members in attendance to answer any questions related to career advice, rush or anything else. This event idea came from one of our members, Jules Kochis, and we are working with Jules to make this event a huge success. This is just one example of the way we empower our members and enable each of them to make an impact on PSE. We hope to see you all there!
A lot of great information right? If any of this seems interesting, definitely check out the various information sessions for each group; I personally think that at the end of the day, finding a culture fit is more important than anything else. After all, these are people you’ll be spending a lot of time with.
To learn more, feel free to reach out to executive board members and brothers of each organization!
Alpha Kappa Psi – President
Delta Sigma Pi – President
Phi Gamma Nu – President
Pi Sigma Epsilon – President