If you ever saw a scared, innocent, brace-face freshman with a pink flower backpack walking through the halls of JSOM, it was probably me. I joined UT Dallas with 30 credit hours completed during high school, but trust me, I did not feel like a “sophomore”. I knew that I wanted to pursue an accounting degree, but that was about it. I was taking 16 credit hours and working part-time at a tutoring center, but I only had a few friends from high school and a lot of free time. It was during these early college days when my uncle mistakenly led me to be a part of Alpha Kappa Psi.
Yes, I joined Alpha Kappa Psi by mistake! I misheard the name of the business fraternity that my uncle advised me to join and ended up coming across Alpha Kappa Psi. For one thing, I never saw myself joining any sort of sorority, but a BUSINESS FRATERNITY? That was a thing? I had to go check it out for myself.
I attended three rush events over the course of the week and immediately made it one of my semester goals to complete the pledge process and become an active member. Afterwards, I proceeded to call my uncle with the news to which he replied, “What’s Alpha Kappa Psi? Is that a sorority? I meant join ____!” Whoops…
It’s kind of a funny story that I’ve ended up being in AKPsi for nearly two years because of a silly error; but joining the #1 co-ed business fraternity has been the best mistake I ever made. It has molded me into the professional I am today and contributed to my success in accepting an internship offer from KPMG, one of the Big Four accounting firms. Here’s how pledging Alpha Kappa Psi has helped me and can help you as well:
1) Professional Skill Growth and Confidence
This was the key building block to my success. Going into the pledge process, I was insanely quiet, hated public speaking, and had very few interactions with career professionals. Now, I have had the opportunity to present a business proposal and current events, as well as network with AKPsi Brothers and alumni in chapters across the nation. In addition to this, I have had the chance to contact recruiters and professionals from Fortune 500 companies in order to hold workshops for our fraternity. I have even spoken about our chapter in front of 100+ freshman business students.
By engaging in a rigorous, seven-week pledge process, I was able to challenge myself to become a principled business leader. The day I became an Active Brother was one of my greatest accomplishments; and you would not believe how much it boosted my self-confidence. I have even taken three “littles” along the way to mentor and guide during their college career.
The best part is that I can transfer all of my skills from Alpha Kappa Psi into the real world. I have worked for the Student Success Center, where I had to teach financial accounting concepts to college students, and participated in two competitions that required public speaking in front of a large audience. Most importantly, I am much more comfortable with small talk and networking with accounting professionals. If it weren’t for this ability, I highly doubt I would have received an internship offer so early.
Do I love public speaking and having to engage in conversation with professionals? Nope, not really (and not many people do)! However, it is important to realize that these skills are necessary in order to be successful. For that reason, I am grateful that Alpha Kappa Psi pushed me to develop these skills early.
2) Well-Rounded Resume
Something to remember about applying to internships is that your first impression in front of recruiters is through your resume. A recruiter looks at a resume for approximately six seconds…and I knew that my resume was not up to par when I started out. I had no leadership, volunteer, or technical work experience.
This is what I would advise: get involved in something as soon as possible. I have talked to multiple individuals, from the UT Dallas recruiter at KPMG to an HR professional at Johnson & Johnson, and they all say the same thing…they like well-roundedness. They do NOT want to see just a 4.0 GPA. This “grades are everything” mentality will not get you far. Now, I’m not saying to start slacking off in your classes, but I am saying that work and leadership experience are starting to become a higher priority for recruiters to see. They want to see a 3.5 GPA student who works part-time and holds a leadership position in an organization. This is the mentality I have tried to follow since I first started at UT Dallas.
For reference, I worked part-time during my first year at UT Dallas, held a leadership position in Alpha Kappa Psi immediately after I became a member, and kept my grades up. I have continued to follow this path and have not regretted any of it.
Having these experiences make interviewing easier for me, particularly when it comes to behavioral ones. Most questions I have been asked in an interview setting, I can tie to Alpha Kappa Psi in some form or fashion.
I also think leadership experience on a resume should be something you can talk about. Being a member of six organizations might fill up space on a resume, but if all you do is attend a couple of meetings, how can you speak on it at an interview? Futhermore, Alpha Kappa Psi is an organization where you actually do something that leads to personal growth and allows you to gain true leadership experience from Day One.
3) Summer Programs
I became a college student in the Fall of 2016 and received an internship offer from my dream company in Summer 2017, which is less than a year! While my resume and professionalism certainly were factors, I would not have received an offer so early if it were not for my attendance at summer programs. Especially for accounting majors, many firms (and companies) will host programs for freshmen and sophomores who are interested in interning/working full-time for them in the near future. If you want to be a step ahead of the competition, I HIGHLY recommend looking up summer programs that are available. I ended up interviewing to attend a summer program for PricewaterhouseCoopers and KPMG and was invited to both of their two-day programs in their Dallas offices. These programs are very informative, fun, and allow you to network with professionals…and potentially receive an early internship offer!
Here is my last piece of advice: never sell yourself short. I honestly did not think I would receive an internship offer from KPMG when I was only 19, but it IS possible! It certainly takes some hard work, but it can be managed (and yes, you can still have a life outside of school and work). If you want to work for your dream company, set some goals and plan how you want to get there. I cannot guarantee that every person who does this reaches their ultimate goal, but I will end with this quote from Roy T. Bennett: “Do not fear failure, but rather fear not trying.”