Many students do not realize the importance or value behind joining student organizations. They just complain, “Student orgs are full of politics”. They just base their opinion based out of someone else’s comments or their personal experience being part of regional organizations like Indian Student Association, Pakistani Student Association or Sri Lankan student association. The point is that regional or country based orgs typically have lot of politics involved in them, but that is not the case with rest of the 200 or 2000 orgs that are existing out there in the university….I have been part of at least a dozen of student organizations and I can tell you the amount of stuff I learnt is incredible. I got jobs, I got scholarships, I met some amazing people, I got mentors… I will try to share some of my experiences.
Why should you join a Student Organization? Advantages and Benefits ?
There are many reasons why one should join a student organization. Some help you with career, some help you with social skills and some help you with personality development, some help you form great friendships that last for lifetime.
- Networking : One of the easy and best way to network with fellow students, who have similar interests, is joining a student organization. It can help you with you career, hobby or anything that you are passionate about. You have like minded people with you.
- Social Skills : As a student you want to learn things like how to talk to other people from different cultures and countries. As an international student, it is your opportunity to build some social skills, people skills. A student org is one the best place to find all kinds of people.
- Professional experience : If you join a professional chapter student organization, you will get exposed to lot of professionals in the same area and help you learn build your professional skills by learning from the best practices and people. For instance, if you are a marketing major, joining American Marketing Association will help you get a feel of your professional career.
- Personality development : If you join a student organization, your communication skills will improve because you are interacting with different people. You may learn even more if you are on the executive board. You learn to balance education and organizational work focusing on your goals.
- Leadership Skills : If you become part of the executive board in the student org, you take up the responsibility or challenge to be a leader and you learn what it takes to be a leader. The schools help you by giving you training and instilling those good leadership skills.
- Alumni Networking : Student organizations usually try to bring in alumni and ask them to share their experiences. It is a wonderful opportunity for you learn from seniors who have graduated and get connected to them. It helps you with job search and mentoring. I got my internship through alumni networking.
- Organization and Management Skills : Many of us are not familiar how an organization works and how to manage everything. If you are on the executive board you get to learn how fundraising works, how finances work, how to market for event, how to work as a team. It helps you in the long run for your job or if you are opening your own business.
- Friendships and Fun : Life is not just about career and making money. It is about building friendships and having fun. You get a chance to meet people and build good friendships. You will be part of the social activities and will have so much fun.
How many Student Organizations should you join ?
It is very tempting when you see the big list of 200 or 2000 student organizations at the University and you may be keen to join every one of them. I have signed up for many student organizations in the past and I could not manage well and keep up with all of them and their activities. You should pick a few and prioritize. Ideally, being part of 3 to 4 student organizations is good. You do not want to be an executive board member in all of these, being executive board member in two organizations is good. Anything more than this will be out of hands and you may find hard to balance. It also depends on how active the student organizations are…if they meet once a month, then you can handle more. But, if you are part of an organization that has weekly meetings and weekly events then it gets harder. Just imagine, if your org meets weekly and you are in 4 student orgs, more than half of your time in week is gone… You do not want to screw up school and grades… so be cautious !
What kind of Student Organizations should you join ?
You main goal for picking a student organization should be based on your interests or based on professional exposure. If the student org does something that you are passionate about, you can join that org or if any student org helps you build network, social skills, or grow professionally then you should join. Just think logically before you join, if you will either enjoy it or at least it adds value to your career.
Personal choice : I would prefer to join these 4 types of orgs :
- A student org that is related to my career which is part of a national professional chapter like American Marketing Association. This is typically in your course area related.
- An organization that helps me build good friendships or meet people from different countries or same country. E.g. International Student association or Indian student association.
- An organization that does activities that match my passion or interests e.g.: Student Latin Dancing Association, Habitat for Humanity, etc.
- An organization where I get enough exposure to college system and I know the stuff going on in college. Also, helps me know administration and faculty in college. E.g. Student Government association or Student association.
What has been your experience ? How many did you join ? What did you learn ?
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