Connecting Young Professionals through ΦBK

By Austin P. Harrison

At the Omicron of Virginia chapter’s spring 2017 induction ceremony, roughly 30 George Mason University students accepted the invitation to join the ranks of the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa Society. Among the speakers at the commencement, Daniel Rosenberg sat closest to the rows of new inductees. Rosenberg was inducted by the Alpha of the District of Columbia chapter at George Washington University in 2014. 

He received his BA in anthropology at GW and currently provides operational support to Hillel International’s board of directors. Hillel International is the largest Jewish campus organization in the world, in addition to taking minutes for board meetings, Rosenberg also works to create, establish, and grow Hillels across the nation, under the guidance of Hillel International’s COO. 

Rosenberg is also the Secretary of Phi Beta Kappa’s DC Area Association, where he plays a crucial role in engaging young professional members. In his speech to the 2017 inductees earlier this month, he urged them to be active members within the Society, as active participation unlocks many benefits that might not be initially realized upon entry into the organization. 


As a recent graduate, how has ΦBK enriched your life?

ROSENBERG: The DC Area Association in particular has allowed me to meet interesting, talented, and dedicated people through my various engagements within the organization. Be it board meetings or social outings, I am consistently in the company of interesting and profound people. The work ethic, breath of knowledge, and relationships built with the young members of ΦBK has truly enriched my life. 

As Secretary I get the opportunity to experience goal setting and achievement as well as managing and motivating people, all targeted at finding the best way to coordinate programs that fit the interests of young ΦBKs. 

Describe your experience as a young member of ΦBK in the DC area. 

ROSENBERG:  Originally I began my involvement as a way to meet people outside of my circles in the George Washington community. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and network with new people my age. Initially I just went to various events in the area. However, when I learned that there was a vacancy on the DC Area Associations Board, I decided to fill that position. For me, Secretary was a good fit; I already had experience taking minutes for the board of directors at Hillel International. At Hillel International the conferences could run for days, but DC Area Association meetings typically only run for three hours or so, thus it wasn’t anything I wasn’t already prepared for. I believe that young ΦBKs should want to deepen their involvement in the organization. For me, it provided a more rewarding experience opposed to just serving as a resume booster. I have met a lot of important people who are plugged into high-level work in the DC area. 

What duties do you perform as the Secretary of the DC Area Association?

ROSENBERG:  As Secretary I’m charged with taking minutes at board meetings, recording the general gist of board conversations, maintaining records of the organization, and keeping contact information of members. 

I also have had the privilege to run the executive committee for the young professional network. The committee has monthly meetings to discuss and plan interesting and engaging programs and events for members in the area. 

What are some of the DC Area Association’s initiatives targeted at young ΦBKs?

ROSENBERG: Basically our initiatives fall within three categories: social events, cultural programming, and professionally oriented events. We generally have happy hours at popular bars across DC. Around holidays we will sometimes engage in festive events. For example, we went to an Irish pub for St. Patrick’s Day. In fact, last night we hosted an event entitled “Where Do I Go From Here: Paths to Growing Your Career” where we had three panelists come in and speak to our young professionals about career development. 

What does being a member of ΦBK mean to you?

ROSENBERG: 1) Take nothing for granted. Approach every situation from a perspective of critical thinking. Be meticulous in the analysis of facts and draw your own conclusions. Thinking critically is a skill that should be applied on a daily basis. 

2) Phi Beta Kappa means “The love of learning is the guide to life.”  In a similar fashion, I’ve learned to cherish lifelong learning. It’s important to continually pursue learning in all its forms. 

3) For me the love of learning also includes community service to others. Through this organization I’ve been able to serve the community with passionate individuals in ways I likely couldn’t have done on my own accord. 

Can you tell me about your semester abroad in Beijing, and how, if at all, the things you learned have been applied in your professional life?

ROSENBERG: My time in China was a lot of fun; I enjoyed the cultural difference from America. In college I studied Mandarin for two years, which allowed me to immerse myself in the culture, giving a certain level of depth to the experience that would’ve been lost had I not been able to speak to people in their native tongue. 

China is also a very extreme place. There’s extreme opulence and success, and simultaneously areas of extreme poverty and turmoil. I think being able to empathize and understand our neighbors in this globalized world is an invaluable skill. The ability to efficiently engage in cross cultural communication and sensitivity is something that I really appreciate developing. A certain level of intellectual maturity develops when travelling abroad. Removing yourself from your comfort zone and being resilient in foreign situations is something that will be tested in almost any field you enter. 

Congratulations on your acceptance to Georgetown Law School! What field of law do you intend to practice and why?

ROSENBERG:  Although most people change their field before getting their JD, currently I think I want to practice corporate/business law both for profit and non-profit. I’m interested in how big businesses operate. The ways in which they operate, structure themselves, deploy staff to accomplish goals, and reflect creativity all are things I wish to learn more about. 

Upon conclusion of our conversation, Rosenberg expressed his extreme gratitude for Phi Beta Kappa’s continued support of the DC Area Association. 

Austin P. Harrison is a junior at George Mason University majoring in environmental science with a concentration in conservation. George Mason is home to the Omicron of Virginia chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.