Without any prior knowledge, it would be easy to wander around campus and see the words Pi Kappa Phi on a poster and assume they are related to Greek Life. The same goes for Tau Beta Pi and Alpha Pi Mu. However, they are not fraternities or sororities, but are in fact student honor societies, just three among several on MSU’s campus. MSU’s honor societies are chapters representing national (sometimes international) organizations. Many students will receive emails from one honor society or another hoping to recruit them, promising membership and accompanying benefits.
Students, new and otherwise, often ask the same questions about honor societies. What exactly is an honor society? How does one become a member? After receiving emails from six separate honor societies, which one is the right one to join? Perhaps the most pressing question is whether a student should even bother joining one in the first place.
There are certainly incentives to join a campus honor society, among them prestige, resume building, scholarship opportunities and skill-building. Probably the most important incentive, however, is the opportunity for networking. As the age old adage goes, it is not what you know, but who you know.
There is no doubt that honor societies provide excellent opportunities for networking to take place, especially when a student joins an organization focused around their own major. This gives students an opportunity to network with professionals and peers with career goals similar to their own, and creates the ideal environment for these interactions to take place.
That being said, joining an honor society will not guarantee networking opportunities any better than those found elsewhere, whether it be in adviser meetings, in classes, over lunch, or in less-prestigious clubs. Students should be investing in these opportunities every day, whether it be on a casual, recreational or professional basis. Ten years down the road, some people may find that a genuine friendship with one of their teachers is worth more than a dozen meetings with industry professionals who might not remember their names five minutes after the fact. Heck, some of the best opportunities for networking may even come while eating lunch with your weird group of friends.
The take-away message is that when seeking networking opportunities, joining an honor society is not the silver-bullet answer. They are an incredible resource, but they cannot substitute for basic networking skills; what you put into honor societies is what you will get out of them.
Seth Urick is mostly ordinary American who grew up on a ranch. He has been lucky enough to have seen both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Conservation of the outdoors is his livelihood, while enjoying them is his life. Sonja can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.