Fraternity hosts professional summit for networking newbies

by Alyssa Gocinski / Beacon Staff • November 20, 2013

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Students and Zeta alumni took part in a speed dating event on Tuesday, Nov. 19.
Beacon Staff
Students and Zeta alumni took part in a speed dating event on Tuesday, Nov. 19.
Beacon Staff

Throughout college, students can mix and mingle, strike up a conversation, and trade resumes with alumni from many fields. During Zeta Phi Eta’s Professional Summit, a weeklong series of events, students are encouraged to make these connections and, in some cases, in two hours or less.

Emerson Alumni Speed Dating, designed to help students engage with Zeta Phi Eta alumni, was one of four events hosted by the fraternity to improve its outreach to former students and members.

Zeta Phi Eta, Emerson’s only coed professional fraternity, launched its first Professional Summit on Sunday, Nov. 17 with the help of co-sponsors Career Services,  on-campus marketing agency EmComm, and Google. 

Noelle Madrigal, the developmental coordinator for EmComm and Zeta’s professional chair, said she organized the event with the help of fellow student Melissa Obleada, the fraternity’s public relations chair.

“We wanted to serve the community and contribute more to the professionalism of the fraternity,” said Madrigal, a junior marketing communication major.

Obleada, a senior marketing communication major, said that aside from promoting professionalism among Zeta’s members, one of the main goals of the week’s events is for all students to gain firsthand experience in networking, especially if interacting with alumni is a new concept to them.

“There is no such thing as being too young to learn how to network and adopt a professional attitude,” she said. “We want to teach these skills that some people don’t necessarily have right off the bat.”

According to Madrigal, three of the four events are alumni-focused. She said the fraternity wants to emphasize the importance of making connections beyond the college by hosting a number of Zeta alumni. 

“Emerson alumni and students are all so goal oriented, and alumni know and appreciate the students’ work ethics,” Madrigal said.

Madrigal also said many Zeta alumni live in the Boston area and are very willing to connect with students.

Obleada said that through this event, Zeta has tried to host a smaller, Emerson-focused version of larger Boston-wide networking events, which she said she thought can come off as intimidating, especially to students just learning how to meet and speak with alumni.

Each event is designed to educate students, specifically those new to networking, on how to build and maintain relationships with alumni, according to Obleada.

Workshops, Obleada said, have allowed students to have their headshots taken for their LinkedIn profiles, have their resumes edited and critiqued, and connect with alumni through panels and mixers.

“Every business card you get isn’t going to turn into a job,” she said. “You need to know what to do with it.”

Among the notable Zeta alumni who have attended the event is Thom Dunn, a Tony award winner, who offered a student an internship at the Huntington Theatre Company, according to Madrigal.

“We’re very proud of the [base] of Zeta alumni, and I’ve heard so many great stories of alumni helping out students in their future careers,” Madrigal said.

Nicole Gibson, a member of Zeta and the college’s Greek Council president, attended the Alumni Job Panel, which she said gave students the chance to ask questions and get advice from a panel of three alumni.

According to Gibson, a junior visual and media arts major, while networking is important at every college, she feels connecting with Emerson alumni in particular is even more significant due to the competitive careers students pursue.

“Certain professions have a very clear way to get to the top, but with the creative jobs we have here at Emerson, there isn’t necessarily a step-by-step path,” Gibson said. “Alumni can teach you how they navigated the world outside of Emerson and how they got to where they are now.”