Getting Involved: The Why
As college students, we have all heard it and are constantly reminded to "get involved." Whether on-campus or off-campus, we are encouraged to join a club or an organization because it is helpful to us personally and professionally. A lot of us do get involved because we are excited about a specific group or organization. However, I have seen everything from a light-saber duelist club to a Steve Buscemi/Pizza Enthusiast Group, where members spend time eating pizza while watching movies. You may be asking yourself this question.
Why would I join a club whose primary goal is to consume pizza and watch movies, and how is this going to help me achieve my career goals?
In reality, anyone joining a student organization can learn a great deal from being involved and engaged.
Furthermore, you are likely to learn even more as you get involved, including leadership, organizational, management, and communication skills.
Student groups--regardless of size or scale--require a level of organization to get started and to form a viable community to make it successful. At its core, each group must be able to organize information as well as take the necessary steps required to achieve group goals. For example, most universities have procedures to get a club registered. These procedures are one way to learn how to manage an organization and may involve finding an adviser as well as appointing board members and electing officers (i.e., President, Vice President, Treasurer, and other roles).
Another key element would be to organize your events and meetings that you plan to host throughout the year. How and when you plan to host them? Where you plan to hold the event? And is the event venue big enough to comfortably hold all the members that want to attend? These details are critical and need to be organized and managed. Additionally, these skills are something employers are looking for in most candidates who are applying for open positions. Having these skills is a huge boost for you--not only for your job but also in your day to day life. Organizational tasks such as hosting marketing events to promote your club or organization bring us to our second valuable skillset, communication.
"Effective communication" is another term we hear a lot around social media as well as our work space. We have all, at some point, received an email or text and thought, "What does this mean?!" Effectively communicating with your peers and members is a much-needed skillset. We need to express ourselves well to establish a good connection with other organizational members and to ensure that everyone is working on the same page. Otherwise, we would be unable to resolve challenges or problems the group may face in the future. Effective communication is also vital to ensure that you can reach potential new members and make them aware of your student organization and its activities. (Obviously, we want to avoid attracting members seeking a Dungeons and Dragon club because they thought the main goal of the group was to find dungeons and possibly dragons!)
Additionally, this also minimizes having to tackle misinformation queries. Being able to communicate is a crucial gemstone that is needed in the workforce. Most of us are more than capable of responding and sending an email. However, the content and how we present ourselves in that email do make a huge difference--especially as you excel in your career.
Responsibility and leadership go hand in hand. An effective leader can take on many responsibilities and bring an organization to new heights. Most leaders work diligently to ensure that they are doing everything possible to achieve their goals and objectives. By starting and being a part of a club, leaders can build on these skills and more.
If you hold a position such as club president or secretary, being an effective leader means you must combine the two skills mentioned above (communication and organizational skills). Effective leadership also means being responsible for clearly defining and achieving the goals and expectations that have been set for your organization. But even if you do not hold a specific position in a club and are only a member of the group, your leadership skills and responsibilities can make the organization better. If you contribute to the club, whether it is planning and executing events or helping recruit members, you can improve these skills along the way. These experiences are valuable for you for a multitude of reasons, such as finding a job and attaining basic life skills. It is for these reasons and more that getting involved is a great idea.
Most of us have very busy schedules with work and classes, and it is always a priority that we go to our classes and complete everything required to get our education and degree first. If we do have time, the energy and the passion for working on something outside of our classes are invaluable. Being engaged in clubs and organizations is one of the best ways to enhance your knowledge, increase your networks, and build on your soft skills. Furthermore, being involved familiarizes you with your campus and local community.
Finally, joining an organization or club is a great way to explore options that you might not have thought of before. If I had never stepped into a Data Analytics club meeting, I probably would have never even thought about pursuing a degree in Information Management.