Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Waitress! I’ll Order the Student Organization Involvement (with a Side of Career Development)

College students love to stay busy, and student organizations allow them to indulge their interests with other like-minded peers. Some organizations are more traditional, from fraternities and sororities to student government. Some are more…shall we say…unique, including a group at Carleton College that reveres moustaches to a University of Minnesota group that covets people watching.

Whereas some students treat their student group involvement as leisure time away from their academics, others see how their participation can benefit their careers. Below I have dished up some ideas and thoughts to help you get the most out of your student organization experience.

Direct professional experience: Some organizations are specifically designed for intellectual development and professional advancement in a certain field/discipline, including business, engineering, education, communications, foreign languages, and many others. Groups that cater to one (or sometimes more) of these areas put on programs to advance that field and the development of its members. Suffice to say that involvement in these groups can provide a gateway to gaining field-related skills and making connections with professionals in the field that will be beneficial to those on that particular career track, from the advertising major in the advertising club to the budding taxidermist in the taxidermy society.

Skill development: However, you do not need to be in a field-specific student group to gain skills that are important in the workplace. For example, a student in the moustache club referenced above could be involved simply for the kitschy novelty of the group, or he could assume a leadership role and develop skills by putting on events such as a “moustache conference” complete with speakers and break-out sessions. It may seem odd, but putting one’s passion behind something and taking action shows initiative and drive as well as organizational, planning, and leadership skills. As college students look to stand out in the job market, the skills developed even in a “leisure” organization can be the key to landing a position.

Networking: Finally, involvement in a student organization provides numerous networking opportunities with group members, professionals in the field, or even college faculty or administrators who advise student organizations. The possibilities and opportunities are numerous, and going into the experience with the goal of getting to know others can lead to connections that will benefit your future career, from a mentor in your field who can help guide you development to a reference that you can leverage when applying for a job.

Student organizations are a fun way to get involved during college and, with the right perspective, can help you develop critical workplace skills and make strong connections that will help you long after you graduate. Put in your order now before you end up with useless leftovers.

No comments:

Post a Comment