LinkedIn Question of the Month – How Can Undergraduates Get The Most Out Of Their Summer Internships?

Mitch_BetterMitchel Better • Remember that internships are not about the money, but the opportunity and experience. Try to diversify yourself with multiple skills and knowledge to make yourself more marketable when applying for full-time jobs.

Michael_PhelpsMichael Phelps • Keep a journal. Record what you see and hear and think. Save questions and pick the best five and ask them weekly unless answering any one of them is necessary to execution on any given day. Listen lots; talk not so much. Link in with all that you meet–you never know. Never burn a bridge. Everything begins with a sale–including selling yourself to a boss, co-workers and customers. Keep all conversation focused on the other person in the conversation.

Roger Elias • First – “Do not believe everything you think!” 2nd – ask good questions, 3rd – listen intently and then 4th make sound decisions …

Once you get the hang of that process, then volunteer to do extra projects, look for a mentor to help you understand the office politics …. you never know what you might learn or who can help you in the future … have fun!

Internships can be great learning experiences …. you may learn positive things … but you may also learn a lot about things you will never want to see or do again! Your interniship will be a journey … be adaptable!

Ryan_ElmerRyan Elmer • Network! Sometimes the work performed by interns isn’t the greatest, but remember to be an engaging professional to everyone you meet at your internship. Having the right advocates during the career search process will make the world of difference to you.

Abhayam SharmaAbhayam Sharma • While you might find yourself swimming in new information and processes there are a few things you must be cognoscente of:

1. Try to keep track of how long it takes to you become fully functional during the ramp up process. Quick studies are sought after by employers and it is an effective talking point to bring up during an interview.

2. Try to understand how your coursework translates to your work during the internship. Too often students get to graduation but don’t have any idea what they learned or how their knowledge/training can be used in the workplace. There is also very little accountability on your school to make sure that your coursework is actually useful. This is one of the reasons that employers shy away from new graduates. It is your job to sell what you are able to do so try to align classroom learning with the things you see around your office (there are going to be other people doing things that you actually learned how to do. Take note of their position and take the time to try to talk to them about their work so that you can be informed about your opportunities when you graduate)

3. Track your tasks and accomplishments/goals reached. They are important during an interview process because the hiring manager will often ask you about them.

4. At the end of the internship you should be able to answer the question “how did you help the firm?” every employer is asking that question. If you can answer it for them it leaves little left to perception

5. Make friends and contacts! Networking is the way to a permanent job. Make friends both inside and outside the department in which you work. You never know when someone can help you. Make connections and add them on Linkedin it will expand your ability to view job openings on this site.

6. Do not forget the recruiting manager: Stay in contact with this person. Make a point of speaking to this person as often as you can while you are working. If you make them feel like you are appreciative and they matter they are more likely to place you within the firm or refer you to their counterparts at other firms (This is how I got my job)

6. GET A LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION!!!!!! This is one of the most powerful documents that will help you get a job. After your academic record this is one of the things that will separate you from the crowd. 90% of graduates do not have letters of recommendation. Imagine what a couple of these would do to separate you from the pack.

7. Overachieve! Think of an internship as a tryout. If you don’t give it your all you have nobody to blame but yourself. Believe it or not 3 months will fly and even though you might not be able to work at that pace for a whole year your future employer doesn’t know that!

John_SchurzJohn Schurz • You have access to the “experts” of your potential chosen field. Ask as many questions as you can and lobby to be given specific projects so you can learn on the job. Practice beats theory almost every time.

Jay_PetersonJay Peterson • Make yourself invaluable. I had two interns last summer. One needed constant supervision, and details of what to do and how to do it. But she didn’t ask questions or for help if she didn’t understand something. The other – asked questions, offered suggestions, clarified expectations. She not only did her projects, but she took INITIATIVE by doing beyond what was asked – but did what she knew would benefit the organization. She also met with key personnel to learn about their function, and asked what would be helpful to them to make their jobs easier. She was prompt and ultra organized. She detailed all of her work/projects and left notes on what else needed to be done to either continue or improve upon the projects she started.

Frank_ModicaFrank Modica • I have come to the thread late. Most of my points have been made above.

Treat an internship as a 12 week interview. Realize employers WANT you to succeed. Otherwise they are recruiting for open positions which takes time and effort.

Politely back away from gossipers, complainers, and other toxic personalities who will kevtch about all that is “screwed up about this place”.

Treat an internship as a dress rehearsal. Your perception of what a job is may not match up with the reality. Learn as much as possible about as many jobs as possible. This will help in making employment decisions later on.

Jason_SmithJayson Smith • Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. Listen and ask questions at the appropriate time…however don’t let a question that you have go unasked!

David_KovacovichDavid Kovacovich • Here are a few tips:
1. Get to the office early and stay late.
2. Ask a lot of questions.
3. Offer to take on extra projects.
4. Do not feel as though any task is beneath you.
5. Find a mentor (or several).
6. Set goals every Monday and recap them every Friday.
7. Focus on positive feedback!!!
8. Make adjustments when given constructive feedback.

Skills is stronger than luck! Work Hard!

Mo_HallMo Hall • It’s very easy for interns to be seen and not heard, and by the time they get comfortable, it’s time to move on. As quickly as you can, be someone that your peers will remember after your internship is complete; a strong, seamless social integration will also help ease some growing pains of learning your job and responsibilities.

To re-emphasize a comment upthread, keep in mind that everyone wants you to succeed–but be sure to have confidence in yourself.

Dale_WeberDale Weber • I think all the above are great, wish I’d known a few earlier (keep a journal!)

I’d just like to add to grasp the opportunities to talk to your co-workers. Consider putting the lunch you brought with you back in the fridge and getting a bite with somebody in the office. The stories between the lines – what they do in their roles and what educational and work experiences got them to those roles – can be very useful when you graduate and need to choose a career path to meet your talents and interests.

Jonathon_PalmieriJonathon PalmieriHere is an Article that I shared with my chapter. In my opinion short work towards being someone you yourself would want to hire for your own company.

Paul_SabatinoPaul Sabatino • Put your best foot forward: Quite often, companies view internships as tryouts for future hires. Looking to receive an offer at the end of your internship? Hitting it out of the park with each assignment or task that crosses your desk is the best place to start.

Spatial Awareness: For many, a summer internship is their first look into corporate America. If your time as a summer associate is nothing more than an internship, you’ll want to be able to paint a clear and concise picture of the experience you’ve gained. So, take a moment to learn about the company you’re at:
1. What service, product or widget do they provide to the world?
2. What vertical or industry are they part of?
3. Who are their competitors (potential employers who may have interest in the industry knowledge you are acquiring)?
4. What internal divisions are you coordinating with (Accounting & Finance, Technology, Legal & Compliance, Sales & Marketing, etc.)?

Resume Building Blog: At the end of your internship, one of the more challenging undertakings will be summarizing and highlighting your work experience. From your first day forward, grab a legal pad or a spiral notebook and keep a running log of your day to day activity. Start where most of your time is spent, leverage the position description you applied to, summarize mini-milestones, project initiatives and tasks completed as well as new software systems you’ve been exposed to (Accounting suites, CRM’s, ERP’s, heavy Excel usage etc.). Your Resume Building Blog will provide you with building blocks as you update your resume in the fall.

Build your Professional Network: Are you part of the LinkedIn community? Well, you should be. Unless you have a website or blog, LinkedIn might be your only professional corner of the web. Take some time to review and update your current profile early on (Be sure to add your new position). Employment dates, titles, Degrees (expected or completed) should mirror your resume as many companies choose to review both. Send invites to your co-workers, team members, managers and executives that you interact with over the summer. Last but not least, try to identify a few managers or mentors that have taken interest in your work or been impressed with your efforts that might be open to writing a recommendation for your profile. Two or three should do the trick!

Stand out & Finish Strong: Leave your mark while you’re there and stand out from the intern crowd. Working for a company that lacks documentation or direction for interns? Consider creating a FYI binder throughout the summer for the next intern; the little things go a long way and it’s a desktop reference manual for you as well. Do not slack off on your contribution toward the end of the summer; this is the time to put in your best work, finish strong and end on a high note. Remember to thank those you worked with and let them know how much you appreciated their time and direction over the summer. Exchange of personal contact information might not be a bad idea, let them know you are reachable should additional information on your project work be needed.

Garrett_GosselinkGarrett Gosselink • Be sure to connect on LinkedIn with everyone you meet in your internship, co-workers and customers alike!

Phi Delta Theta in the World of Tomorrow

Ben_PutanoBy Ben Putano, Ohio Lambda #728

I consider myself very lucky as I reflect on my first weekend at Kent State during my freshman year. I followed a group of new friends to a fraternity cookout, where I was told there would be food, beer, and girls. When I arrived to the house that afternoon, there was no beer—or girls for that matter—but plenty of food, volleyball and a group Phi Delt brothers. Later that night, I went back for a bonfire, talked with several members, played chubby bunny (look it up), and I was hooked. On day one of my college career, I found a great chapter from the best fraternity on the planet. Like I said, I was lucky.

I texted my dad that day to tell him I was hanging out at a fraternity. He replied, “Be careful”. And I said, “No Dad! Would you believe that the fraternity has an alcohol-free property? Don’t worry!” He said back, “Isn’t that an oxymoron?”

In a way, Phi Delta Theta is sort of an oxymoron in the fraternity world. Over the past decade, we have grown faster, stronger, and smarter than many any other fraternal organizations. In the words of Brother Rich Fabritius, “We have colleges calling us, wanting us on their campuses.”

It’s a turbulent time for many Greek communities, and many organizations are doing little to help themselves. Excessive drinking and hazing has pushed many chapters and organizations to the brink of existence. I’m proud of the tough decisions that Phi Delt has made, the example that it has set, and the benefits that it provides to young men.

I think the reasons for my pride and the Fraternity’s success is simple, but it may not for the reasons you would expect. When Phi Delt adopted alcohol-free housing, we set the groundwork to become the best fraternity that we can be. Now, I am definitely not some anti-booze snob who will stick my nose up at the sight of alcohol, but I do believe that there is a time and a place for drinking, and our policies have established the guidelines perfectly.

Living in an alcohol-free property at Ohio Lambda for three years, I was reaffirmed of this over and over. Yes, my brothers and I would go out and have fun, but at the chapter house, we made our own fun, like kids playing on a playground. We bonded and grew to know each other in unaltered states of mind. In the absence of alcohol, we focused on each other, and we became a better chapter because of it.

I also believe that much of Phi Delta Theta’s success stems from the Fraternity’s approach to leadership conferences. The training that our members receive at Kleberg, Recruitment Workshops, and the Presidents Leadership Conference, in absence of alcohol, is second-to-none. There is NO WAY we could have an effective conference, waking up at 8 a.m. and going until 10 p.m. for three days, if our members were out drinking the night before. Because of this, our members return to their chapters after a conference and they are prepared and motivated to make serious change at their school.

When I was at PLC this winter, I had a friend also attending a conference for his fraternity at the same time. After the weekend, we exchanged stories. The majority of his energy was spent out at bars and wild excursions through the city. Although it sounded fun, I knew his experience could not top my own. Phi Delt takes preparing its leaders seriously, and it shows in the quality of our chapters and our alumni. We are a different breed of Fraternity man.

Phi Delta Theta has always been a leader in the fraternity world, but it has never been truer than it is today. I believe that in an uncertain future for fraternities, Phi Delt is preparing itself greatly for long-term success.  Because of the decisions we’ve made and the vision we possess, I feel confident that Phi Delt will truly be a Fraternity for life, and for my son’s life, and for his son as well.

I am grateful for an opportunity to give back to a Fraternity that has given me so much. I’m Proud to be a Phi.

 

Love the Adventure – Lessons from a Recent Graduate

563824_10200381555039529_1057149594_nBy Colin Hueser, Iowa Gamma, #1797

Although I’m absolutely thrilled to be joining the Phi Delta Theta staff in a few short weeks, I’m currently in limbo. Like many recent college graduates, I’m back at my childhood home, sitting in an old bedroom that both looks and feels different from when I left it four years ago. However, my stay here is brief; I’ve got adventuring to do.

In the time between my graduation from Iowa State and the beginning of my career as a Leadership Consultant, I’ll be going on a whirlwind of a trip. I will have traveled through multiple states, taken a camping trip garnished with days boating on a pristine lake, attended a three-day music festival and visited three of the largest cities the country. All the while, I’ll be fortunate enough to laugh and reminisce with the people whom I cherish most, spending time telling stories and hypothesizing about what the future may hold for us. It’s the perfect way to use these transitional days, both fitting and rewarding.

Even though I’m not in the “real world” yet, I’ve already done quite a bit of reflection on my college days – the people I’ve met, the places I’ve gone, the experiences I’ve shared, the roles I’ve filled, and the growth that I’ve undergone. As I embark on my post-grad road trip and prepare for life on the road with Phi Delta Theta, I can’t help but think of some of the most important things I learned while in college and how they have led me to my current journey. They are lessons that I plan on taking with me everywhere I go; lessons that I hope each undergraduate Phi Delt learns.

Value Your Values

The Cardinal Principles: Friendship, Sound Learning, and Rectitude. As men of Phi Delta Theta, these are the values that we have sworn to hold true. As a fraternity man, a college student, and a gentleman, I hope that you adhere to far more: acceptance, honesty, duty, integrity, loyalty, modesty, valor, etc., etc. To be honest, I’m far less concerned with which values you deem most important, but more so on how you choose to live through them.

In the words of John Stewart, “If you don’t stick to your values when they’re being tested, they’re not values, they’re hobbies.” Make your values known to others and internalize them. When faced with a difficult decision, it is always worth the extra second to examine how your decision-making has aligned with what you deem most important. You’ll thank yourself for it in the long run, I promise.

Try New Things

Your world is only as big as you allow it to be. Fortunately for college students, you find yourselves in a position of limitless potential. While on your college campus, pursue things that sound interesting to you, shake every hand you possibly can, get involved early and immerse yourself in whatever world you choose to explore.

Eat new foods with new friends in new parts of tow and explore your city’s hidden gems and secret hideaways. Take a weekend trip for every reason and for no reason. Go abroad and learn to appreciate a culture other than your own. Grow your world.

Don’t Be Afraid

Don’t be afraid of life. It’s going to happen to you no matter what and there’s no stopping it. The only difference between being a driver and being a passenger is that drivers decide the destination and receive better view for the ride. Be a driver.

Challenge tradition. When others act in a way that defies your values or our values, stand up. Do not fear the majority, do not fear failure, and always take the tough road if you know it to be right. The things you’ll regret most are the things you don’t do.

Make Mistakes

You will never have a better opportunity to make mistakes in your entire life than right now. You are young, you have a strong network of brothers to support you and you most certainly have a lot of things that you’ll need to learn the hard way:  staying up too late, under-preparing for an exam, breaking a friend’s trust and oversteping your bounds.

I’m not telling you that you should do any of these things, however, you’ll do them on your own. My advice to you is that when these things do happen to you, take the time to recognize your mistake and learn everything you can from the experience. Make these mistakes while you can still afford to.

Be Honest

Be honest with yourself and in your relationships. Be honest with your brothers. This was perhaps the most difficult lesson for me to learn. Don’t hide your emotions in an attempt to be “a man.” The best men I’ve ever met are full of honesty, emotion and life.

Your feelings, your past, your future, your fears and your desires are all part of what make you who you are. Not being open to them limits your potential for love and success. Love openly and love often. Honesty is easy to neglect, but sorely missed once gone. One dishonest encounter is enough to destroy a relationship that took years to build. Take it from me.

Love the Adventure

Learn to love the adventure. Chase the good, appreciate the bad and learn everything you possibly can along the way. Not every part of life is as fun or glamorous as a fraternity social, tailgating a home game or a post-grad road trip. Truthfully, many things in life are the exact opposite: summer jobs, trips to the DMV, study sessions, grocery shopping, conference calls, dusting, commuting to work, and filing paperwork, to name a few. However, only you are capable of determining how you feel about these other aspects of your daily life. Take time to appreciate the beauty and significance in every situation. Your happiness is always under your control.

By doing these things, I know that you will become a better and happier man. This advice is amongst the most valuable things I that I learned during my college years, and nearly all of it is directly related to my time with Iowa Gamma.

However, I write these lessons with no intention of suggesting that I have everything figured out or that I am a perfect model for my own advice. My practice is imperfect, and at times, I have found myself to be a hypocrite. Nonetheless, I have no doubt that my next two years with Phi Delta Theta will give me even more insight and even more advice to give. I don’t know how and when that will happen, really, but that’s just part of the adventure.

Proud To Be A Phi For A Reason

269438_10151065624391386_187624421_nBy Matt Letcher, Missouri Delta #421

To me, four years is a short period of time. As a history major, I am used to analyzing causes and effects over hundreds of years. Over the last few weeks of my undergraduate career, I have begun to realize and appreciate the effect that these four years have had on me and how they will continue to shape me. The relationships and experiences that I have gained are extensive and strong, and the majority of them were founded in the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity. I would not be the man I am today without Phi Delt and everything it has offered me.

With each semester and Phikeia class that entered the Fraternity, I was given opportunities to meet new people and form bonds that will withstand the test of time. I can think of brotherhood events, alumni events, or just regular weekday nights when the only thing that mattered was the fact that we were either talking about memories we had or making new ones. That type of comfort that comes from understanding what true brotherhood is tough to replicate during college.

If I could identify one lesson that I was constantly reminded of throughout my time at Saint Louis University, it would be that everything happens for a reason. I chose Phi Delta Theta and everything that I gained because of that decision was because of the initial feel that I acquired during Rush Week. I chose to be an education and history major, and the classes that I was required to take provided me with knowledge and practical experience for my future field. I chose to student teach this last semester and therefore missed out on many of the social aspects of a second semester senior, but I was able to help countless numbers of students grow socially, academically and cognitively. I was recently asked if I had any regrets from my time at SLU. I was able to confidently state that I did not because of this mentality that everything happens for a reason. I would advise younger Phis to keep this is mind throughout their own time at school.

As I look forward to what is to come, I am proud to be able to look back and relive everything that has happened. There is excitement both in what we remember and what we have to look forward to. This is especially true knowing that I will continue to have Phi Delta Theta as a part of my life and knowing everything it has given me already.

Brotherhood – What It Means To Me

Goughneour_headshotBy Rick Goughneour, Pennsylvania Pi #0093

What do we think of when we see or hear the word brotherhood? The word “brotherhood” is used from the time we start recruitment and continues to be used everyday as a way to describe why we joined or what we’re looking for in the Fraternity. Few people ever find their true meaning to the word “brotherhood” but for some reason, Greeks everywhere use it because they think it is what brings us all together.

For me the word “brotherhood” was always something that I searched for within my own chapter, but I could never find a definition or phrase to describe it.  It took me losing one of my mentors and brothers on February 28, 2012 to realize what true “brotherhood” really meant to me.

Losing this person has been one of the toughest things I’ve had to deal with in my short 22 years of life, and it changed me for the better. Before, I thought losing a relative or friend was hard but this just seemed to hit a little harder than any of those. Although we love our friends and family, losing a fraternity brother who I respected caused me to feel a whole new series of emotions that I hadn’t felt before that day.

Michael R. Haines was someone we could count on at PA Pi. As a Founding Father and CAB member he was involved from the time he was initiated until the day he passed. Mike would have given anything he had if we as a chapter told him we needed it, and that man lived our values to the fullest in every extent of his life. Whether it was waiting tables at Eat N Park, selling phones at Verizon, collecting money in an armored car, or being there for his brothers, Mike Haines was passionate and put his whole heart and soul into every part of his life. We all had respect for him and although he was tough on every memmber of the chapter, we knew there was a reason behind it. He was sometimes stern but would also be the first person to shake your hand and tell you that you did a good job at something.

My first real connection with Mike came during the fall semester of the 2011-2012 school year, shortly after recruitment was over and we were beginning the Phikeia process with our new guys. We were talking outside of a building on camups just catching up before any of the brothers had arrived. It started off as a normal conversation about the week and what had been going with the chapter and just general things that were going on in our lives. I remember him being extremely happy about the new job that he was hoping to get and how good of a change it would be for him. But as we all knew with him, things went from happy to serious in the blink of an eye when it came time for business.

He started telling me how impressed he was with the chapter and how things had been going over the past year and that he couldn’t wait to see where we could be in five years if we kept up our hard work. As I look back on that now, I truly wish that he would be here to see how much of an impact he had on us as a chapter up to that point, and I wish I had told him that one of the main reasons we were where we were was because of him. We kept talking and after awhile he shook my hand, looked me in the eye and told me that he was proud to see how I had changed since my initiation. He also mentioned that in his eyes my pledge class was the “second founders” and without us, the chapter would not be where it is.  From that moment, until the minute I heard the news that Mike had passed, I had worked to make sure he was satisfied with the chapter, and at the time I had not realized it, but I had earned Mike’s respect. Every member of Pennsylvania Pi can probably say that Mike had a positive effect his life or on the way we thought about things.

My true meaning of “brotherhood” happened shortly after his passing when we were all sitting in a room together with local alumni, our Province President Jordan Palitto, General Council member Chris Brussalis and brothers that knew Mike since the day he was intiated. We were laughing and telling stories of how Mike had touched our lives or made us laugh. That “feeling” we all had sitting in that room, as our former CAB Chairman Mike Hortert described it, was “brotherhood” in every sense of the word. The feeling we get when we think of the others in the chapter. The feeling we get when we all come together to support each other and share memories. The feeling we get when we think of Mike Haines. I can honestly say that I have never been more proud to call myself a brother of Phi Delta Theta than I was that night. Seeing the amount of support and care that we all had for each other in a time of need is what this is truly about.

Today, I can finally say that I’ve found my definition of the word. It’s not something that can be defined with words or descriptions, but more of a feeling when you’re surrounded by those you call your brothers, and you see that they are willing to give as much of themselves to you as you are willing to give them. It’s that feeling we all get when we see a brother doing something that represents our values. It’s that feeling we get when we’re at a Phi Delt conference and get chills doing ritual with members of different chapters. It’s that feeling we get when we think of the person that brought us into Phi Delta Theta. It’s that feeling we get when we’re proud of our accomplishments as an organization or as an individual chapter. Sit and think about that “feeling” and a time that it has hit you during your time as a member of this great organization.

What does brotherhood mean to you?

My Two Phi Delt Sons

Suzie Benfield

By Suzie Benfield

As a mother of two Phi Delts, I can give a firsthand account of “learning as we go.”  When our oldest son went out of state to college in 2003, it was a whole new world for all of us.  Then after the first month on campus he called and said he wanted to join a fraternity.  His dad and I were clueless as to what that meant.  All we knew of fraternities was from the media, primarily John Belushi in Animal House.  Oh No!!  We set off to educate ourselves and to trust our son’s judgment.  Cost was also a concern, so our son promised to get a part-time job to pay his dues.  He held several leadership positions within the fraternity and campus-wide. After college, he went to graduate school and starting working with fraternities and sororities as a professional. Now, he works for Phi Delt’s headquarters. Who knew his fraternity experience would turn in to a career?

Five years later our second son decided to attend to same college and join the same fraternity as his older brother.  We were much more aware of what that meant and were fully supportive of his decision. He also had to work part time to pay his dues. The great experiences and family environment at the Phi Delta Theta house continued. Our youngest son even lived in the same room at the house, as our oldest. He also went on to find success through the fraternity and hold positions within the fraternity and became the campus Inter-fraternity Council president in his junior year.

Joining Phi Delta Theta and being an active member not only enhanced our sons’ growth and maturity, but they developed unmatched leadership experiences. The fraternity brothers encouraged each other to do their very best and provide peer stimulus to make good grades. They were a part of many community service projects while in college, and continue to practice that service.  They have developed lifelong relationships and connections for opportunities that they would otherwise not be exposed to.

We have had many Fall and Spring break gatherings at our home over the 8 years of college education.  Living in Southwest Florida was the perfect place for them to visit and go to the beach, lay by the pool and hang out in the evenings.  Sometimes as many as 10 Phi Delt brothers would come, many having to sleep on the floor.  The brothers that were international students were some of the most memorable guests and we enjoyed learning about their cultures. Every one of the young men were people we wanted our sons to associate with. I actually became famous for my fish tacos and lemon cake, while our sons’ dad was famous for his baby back ribs.  We soon became known as “Mama and Papa B,” and consider it an honor to be part of the Phi Delta Theta family. We’ve even given a speech or two to all the new parents during the fraternity’s luncheon during Parent’s Weekend. Looking back, we are very proud that we supported our sons’ decisions to join a fraternity, and we are very thankful for the experiences that Phi Delta Theta has provided them.

Paul’s Mom – I have a Phikeia???

SD Paul and IBy Brandie Clark

The bedroom down the hall is empty, the television hasn’t been turned on in weeks, I change the sheets more out of habit than need, the clothes hanging in the closet go unworn, my son has moved out into the dorms. College life loomed ahead of him. The journey began with chemistry, biology, math, history, the trip to Ecaudor, the Galapagos Islands, the Amazon, and Honor’s classes. Paul is the first in our family to attend a 4-year university right out of high school.  As if that weren’t enough, a fraternity too?

This is my first blog, my first attempt at recording my experience beyond a diary I kept in Jr. High. It is with great pride that I take this mission on.  As a new fraternity Mom, as a college Mom (now with 2 boys in college), as an excited Mom, a sounding board, an observer, a woman, a single Mom, as a colleague, as a friend, as a confidant… I hope to tell you our story. I have faith that I will be sharing stories that will excite you, stories that will alleviate the fears, stories that will inspire, stories that will make you laugh, stories that may make you shed a tear, stories that will bond us PARENTS of the ones chosen to be Phi Delts.  This, I know, is going to be a journey, not only for Paul but also for myself.

Before I tell you how it began, let me tell you what I knew about Fraternities before my son decided to pledge.  My first memories of “Frats” include scenes from Van Wilder, Animal House and Revenge of the Nerds.  There is no way I would want my kid involved in that!  Visions of crazy Toga parties, beds being thrown out of the frat house windows, beer chugging contests & bra’s hanging from chandeliers. I actually pledged as a “little sister” to one of those “Frats” in my last year of high school. I will keep the name out of this blog as things may be very different now.  So, believe me, I have/had those same fears, anxieties & maybe a few giggles that you might be having.  Phi Delta Theta isn’t one of those, and perhaps they don’t exist anymore.  The few men I have met on campus that are Phi Delts are respectable, well-mannered gentlemen.  I haven’t heard any rumors, nor seen any evidence that this behavior exists within the Phi Delts and that makes me a happy Mom.

How it all started.  I am awakened to a text from Paul, it reads “I got a bid”. Huh? A what? How does that happen? What do I need to do?  Can I see it?  Can I touch it?  Oh wait… can you tell me?  Two days before my son’s 19th birthday he received his bid.  What a great birthday present! What is a bid you might ask, just as I did.  Well… from what I understand, it meant the brothers of the Phi Delta Theta Cal Rho chapter at the University of La Verne in La Verne, California found my son to be what they were looking for to join their group? Family? Organization? Fraternity?  This is all so new to me!  I can’t wait to have all the right terminology, be able to say all the right things, but for now (day 3) I am still “winging” it, and learning just as my son is learning his part.  The next night was the actual pinning ceremony, where he received this diamond shaped light blue pin with the word “Phikeia”.  He is actually a Phikeia of the Alpha Xi class.  He has been elected the Phikeia Class Chair, how exciting, right?  I have been told it is a 6-week process from Phikeia to Phi Delta Theta, and that some don’t make it.  So many things to do, so much to learn, and then (IF he makes it—which I have faith he will) the initiation into Brotherhood.  He was so full of pride, as was I!  I was so sad to find out that this is a ceremony and therefore I couldn’t attend. (One more way us parents must let go.  Sigh! )  We are becoming a Phi Delta Theta family!

February 25, 2013 was his 19th birthday. Across the table from me sat an emerging man… a pledge for Phi Delta Theta AKA Phikeia. His pin perfectly place above his heart, just as it should be. Proudly he showed us his Phikeia book, and recited the Greek Alphabet for me.  His little sister & I listened as he told us about his excitement, looking forward to the bonding exercises, the rock painting, meetings, rituals (which he explains he can’t talk about), the philanthropic activities to come, and the pledging process. As we left his birthday dinner, he quickened his pace to make sure he opened the door for us.  Such a gentleman in the making… Thank you Phi Delts!

It was comforting to hear that hazing won’t be a part of his experience transitioning from a Phikeia to a Phi Delta Theta.  When he told me the beginning of his freshman year that he wanted to join a fraternity, I will admit, I had some trepidation but also some excitement.  I had such pride that my son wanted to display a Greek symbol, take part in a “family” bigger than our own, share secrets, pride, and love of this organization.  As I read more about Phi Delta Theta, read the list of accomplished Phi Delts included men such as Neil Armstrong, Frank Lloyd Wright, Tim Conway, Phil Walden and so many more!  I knew my son was going to be in good and honorable company.

Our family embraces this experience! We can’t wait for the next step! Watching our Son, Grandson, Brother, Nephew grow to a man as a Phi Delta Theta.

Brandie (Paul’s Mom)