Park (‘18) Builds Inclusive Business Organization

Last semester, Leslie Park ‘18 decided to start something new: a club. After becoming familiar with the current professional organizations on campus, Park realized “that there was a need for a business organization that was more welcoming and offered more flexibility.” With strong determination and passion, Park launched Cornell’s very own Phi Beta Lambda chapter.

Phi Beta Lambda (PBL) is a professional student organization that provides career and leadership development opportunities to any Cornell student. It is a collegiate extension of the national organization, Future Business Leaders of America – Phi Beta Lambda (FBLA – PBL). which has a mission: “to bring business and education together in a positive working relationship through innovative leadership and career development programs.”

“Our goal is to provide students from a diversity of backgrounds the opportunity to grow professionally and personally in a welcoming and ever-evolving community,” Park explained. The club fosters a community of students from all academic years, backgrounds, and experiences and gives them leadership experience, internship panels, academic competitions, and more. The chapter launched last semester and gained an official membership of 27 founding members.

The spark for Phi Beta Lambda began when Park transferred to Cornell from Temple University. She was involved with Phi Beta Lambda and was eager to start a chapter at Cornell, reaching out to her friends at Temple University’s Phi Beta Lambda to discuss what the process would be like. She also connected with the Dyson School’s Intro to Management Professor Pedro Perez, who now serves as the chapter’s faculty advisor. Professor Perez provided Park contacts to other presidents of business organizations on campus to learn how Phi Beta Lambda would differentiate itself and collaborate with existing organizations.

Finding the right team to lead Phi Beta Lambda was crucial. Since Phi Beta Lambda is a new organization, Park said, “I needed people who are truly self-starters and willing to be flexible during the process of forming PBL.” She was able to recruit Danielle Clark ‘18, Vice President, and Anna Carmichael ’18, Secretary. Clark praised their cohesive E-board, explaining that, “we all work together really well and respect each other’s opinions and time constraints. What makes our e-board successful and effective is our shared commitment to providing the most valuable opportunities possible to our club members. We all want the club and our members to grow and develop, and we work together to ensure that happens.”

One of the biggest challenges Phi Beta Lambda faced was differentiating itself from other business and professional organizations on campus. For Clark, Phi Beta Lambda stands out from other clubs because of their emphasis on inclusivity, stating, “We strive to create a family among all of our members. This is why we value our academic competitions and resume workshops as much as club dinners and social events.” Furthermore, Park explained what she thinks is the biggest selling point for Phi Beta Lambda, saying that, “every member this year is a founding member of our chapter, which really means that these members are helping establish the foundation of this organization and how it may look in the upcoming future. PBL is what you want it to be. This is precisely why, I constantly remind students about how much their input matters in addition to encouraging inclusivity.”

As Phi Beta Lambda looks towards another successful semester on campus this spring, Park stated that, “we hope to continue developing our internal members as leaders as we plan more professional development, bonding, and service activities in the upcoming semester.” The club has prepared an exciting professional development series featuring an alumni speaker series and looks to co-sponsor events with other student organizations. In regards to their philanthropic values, Phi Beta Lambda is hoping to host another fundraiser like the one they held with their national service partner, March of Dimes, this past fall by selling coffee and donuts on Ho Plaza.

Most importantly, Phi Beta Lambda is investing in their members as they continue to grow. “Our future goals are to provide more opportunities specific to the interests of our club members,” Clark stated, “We strive to ensure that a student studying animal science gets as much value from the club as a student studying business. We plan to do this by directly communicating with club members to ask them what sorts of opportunities would be most valuable for them.”

Park concluded, “I see so much passion and potential in our members, and building a chapter from scratch will become a memorable and impactful experience that will teach members to think purposefully about Phi Beta Lambda’s initiatives in the present and future.”

Interested in Phi Beta Lambda? Check out their Facebook group!