Joining a Black fraternity or sorority is a daunting task but there are multiple ways to prepare for your interview that can help you win the chapter over immensely. One of these things is quite simple: Figure out which tangible skills you have and find out how you can use them to directly help the chapter.
Tangible skills or “hard skills” are specific, teachable abilities that can be defined and measured. Simply put, these are things that you can do to actually help the chapter. By contrast, “soft skills” are less tangible and harder to quantify, such as etiquette, being likable, getting along with others, listening and engaging in small talk.
Yes, Black fraternity/sorority chapters are brotherhoods/sisterhoods, but don’t get it twisted, if you ask anyone in an alumni or undergrad chapter what it is like to be greek, they will most likely say that it is a lot of work.
By keeping this in mind, when you are trying to get noticed by a chapter as a potential candidate or have been given the honor of getting a membership interview, the best strategy is to show the chapter which tangible skills you bring to the table that will relieve the chapter of its workload, drop its costs, increase its profits, and be more successful in the future.
What does this mean? It means that you need to take a step back and figure out which skills you can bring to the table to help the chapter. A chapter is much like a business, why would a business hire someone who is simply likeable when there is work to be done? A successful business wants someone who can get the job done and help them succeed. If you were a coach or a player on a football team would you want to add players who will sit on the bench or players who score, get interceptions and make plays? You want to win, so you bring on people who can help you win because of their skillsets.
We at Watch The Yard have talked to numerous greeks around the country about this and have come up with the most valued tangible skills for 2017. This is a list of skills that you either should highlight to the chapter you want to join or if you don’t have them right now, you can focus on practicing and learning these skills for the future. Trust us, even if you don’t make it into the chapter, in the long run, these skills will help you in your career and will open many new doors and opportunities for you.
Every chapter has a bank account and every chapter has someone who deals with the finances. Someone who can make sure that the books are balanced and that the finances are in order is very valuable to the chapter and its financial success. This is something that is important in both grad and undergraduate chapters and if you are able to highlight this skill to the chapter, you will improve your chances of getting in immensely. In most cases, there is someone in the chapter who has been doing the books for years, and having someone who they can train and trust to smoothly take over their position when they want to leave it can be a godsend. If you are an accountant, deal with finances, can work an Excel sheet like a boss, or are studying business, this is the perfect thing to highlight in your application.
If you are interested in learning to pick up this skill, find some finance books, take a class, ask someone who knows, and check out some blogs on bookkeeping. This skill will DEFINITELY help you in the future.
Every chapter has a website and because many chapters do not have a web designer within their ranks, being able to build websites can be extremely valuable to both undergrad and alumni chapters. To add to this, the cost of building websites can be daunting to many chapters and even after the initial building of the website, if they do not know how to update it, hiring someone outside of the chapter is something that can put a whole in the chapter’s bank account.
If you are someone who can build websites, whether it be through writing code or working with WordPress or even Squarespace, you need to highlight this to chapter members. A simple discreet, “Hey I’m interested in learning more about your chapter, I went to your website to do more research and I have some tips on how you can fix some things on it/improve its SEO” can go an extremely long way for someone who is trying to get noticed if said correctly to the right person.
If you are interested in picking this skill up, start by learning WordPress or try out Squarespace. You can start by building yourself a personal website and once you have that skill, you should be able to apply that to anything. Even if greekdom does not work out for you, knowing some web design will help you advance yourself professionally and make money in the future.
Securing Sponsorships/ Grant Writing
This one needs very little explaining. For a chapter to pull off large events, it needs to find ways to do this and spend the least amount of its own money while doing it. If you are someone who knows how to write grant proposals or create sponsorship opportunities for a chapter, you will be a golden child for the organization.
If you work in a profession in which grant writing or sponsorship deals are something that you do, make sure to highlight this to the chapter and give actual examples of the amount of money you have secured for other companies, organizations, or projects in the past.
If you’re an undergrad and want to learn how to do this, start by joining another student group and put yourself in a position where you are in charge of securing grants for a student event, fashion show, party, or public service event. This will give you the tangible skills to prove that you can do it for the chapter in the future if you’re accepted as a member.
When chapters need to throw events they either need to have someone in-house make the flyers and event graphics or they have to pay someone to do this for them. Depending on the event, the amount of times that the details of the event change and the amount of various graphics that need to be made, this can start to get very expensive for a chapter if they have to hire someone. If you can show that you have the skillset to offset this cost by doing the graphics yourself, you can prove that you are a valuable potential asset to the chapter.
If you do graphic design, take some time to show the people in the chapter your work before the interview and let them know discreetly that you think you could really help them in the future.
If you don’t know how to do this yet but are interested in learning it, find a way to get ahold of Photoshop. Once you have it, you can literally teach yourself everything you need to know for free using YouTube tutorials. Trust us, this skill is a very handy one to have, it will help you go far in your career and give you an extra edge.
Much like graphic design, being able to help the chapter by shooting and editing event promos, advertisements, recap videos and everything else that needs to be recorded will go a long way and will give you an edge.
To be featured on Watch The Yard, and thus highlighted in front of the rest of Black greekdom on a national level, shooting and editing high-quality video it the best way to make it happen. In 2017, it didn’t happen if there is not video of it and thus it is very important to have someone in each chapter who can shoot and edit video.
If you are good at this, make sure to highlight it to the chapter. If you’re interested in picking up this skill, download a video editing program and learn to use a camera. With the advancement of cell phones over the last two years, you can now shoot full quality video with good lighting, sound and a cell phone. Play around with some equipment and teach yourself to edit using YouTube tutorials.
Chapters want to see their events get covered in local news, radio and on digital platforms. If you have experience putting together and writing press releases, you can really help a chapter out. Let them know that you have this skill and give them examples of the work that you have done in the past.
If you’ve, never done this before, go check out some blogs on PR and hit up the library or Amazon and get some books on the subject. Once you’ve learned hot to do it, reach out to local non-profit or student group and ask them if you can do some free PR for them to build your portfolio. Once you land a couple of stories/coverage, highlight this to the chapter.
Chapters need to throw events and thus people who are good at putting events together are always seen as great additions. If you have thrown successful events of any kind in the past, let the chapter know about what you did and your role in making it happen. Better yet, invite members of the chapter to one of your events so that they can see for themselves how good you are.
If you have never thrown an event before but want to get into it, ask someone who is good at throwing events if you can work with them on their next event. Use this as a way to gain experience and then try to throw your own. You don’t have to throw a giant event to start, you can start by organizing a volunteer event or mixer. Once you have this experience and have thrown multiple events let the chapter know discreetly that you are interested in learning more about joining and that you think you could bring value to them by creating events for them.
At the end of the day, this is about showing that you have a skill that can add value to the organization. If you can show that you can add value to others, you will go far in life and this does not just apply to trying to join a Black greek letter organization.
Black greekdom is about training for leadership and helping members improve themselves and the experiences of others. You don’t need to be the best web designer, grant writer, or videographer, you just need to be able to show that you know what you are doing, can add value with this skill and are taking the initiative all by yourself to improve upon this skill.
Remember: When reaching out to fraternity and sorority members make sure to be discreet and humble. Not everyone needs to know that you are interested in joining. Don’t be loud about wanting to join, that’s not how Black greekdom works.
We hope this helps, if you are greek already feel free to share this article on your chapter pages so that possible recruits can read this.
If you have any other tangible skills that you think are important/valuable in 2017 that we missed, let us know in the comment section below.