Through my time at UH (almost 3.5 years, but who’s counting?) I would say I have joined my fair share of student clubs, and never did I think that joining them would have enriched my college experience as much as it has. If you’re trying to find a way to make the most of your academic journey on campus, I would definitely recommend joining a club for yourself! Here’s why:
- New friends. The first club I ever joined was the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). I remember walking into the first meeting with my fellow freshman friend, Alisha, and we were the youngest people there. As intimidating as it was, I was able to make so many friends that I wouldn’t have met had I not been in the club. When I joined the Business Executive Society of Tomorrow (BEST) later in my sophomore year, I made even more friends who have made my college experience so much more fun. I know so many people in my classes, and this has made the awkward process of creating a group for a group project much easier and less stressful, as I always know somebody.
- A feeling of community. Making these new friends in different clubs has given me an amazing sense of community that I would never take for granted. There have been so many times that I have gone to the computer lab or picked up a meal at Paradise Palms and have found a group of friendly faces from my clubs who have enthusiastically asked me to join them. Everyone is welcome and included, and I never have to eat or study alone.
- Networking opportunities. In Hawaii, your net worth is your network, so any opportunity to expand your network is crucial. Clubs offer these opportunities in so many areas, and the amount of connections I have made so far is unbelievable. In fact, during one networking event I attended for BEST, I met a recruiter from a company where I ended up applying for an internship. I also met one of my best friends, Suzie, in PRSSA. She used to be the Social Media Specialist here at the Career Center, and she helped me to get this position once she graduated. She also referred me to an internship position someplace else where she was working. To say she helped me on my professional development journey would be an understatement.
- New knowledge. Being in a professional development club that specializes in a specific topic or major is also the perfect way to expand your knowledge outside of the classroom. In the Financial Management Association (FMA)–a club I joined just this semester–I look forward to learning more about investing and financial health from like-minded students and well-experienced professionals who can share with me their career paths and journeys in finance. In PRSSA, I have learned the importance of strategically communicating well with others and maintaining a professional personal brand. In BEST, I have learned so much about professional etiquette, how to network, and different opportunities in business. Many of these skills and real-world knowledge and experiences are not present in a classroom setting.
- Leadership opportunities. Through my experience in different clubs I have been able to develop myself personally and professionally, and in these ways, I have been able to grow as a leader through different board positions. My journey in leadership in PRSSA has been quite the path. Starting as the Director of Special Events who planned socials and community service events, I then became the Director of Finance who was in charge of budgeting and fundraising. The next semester, I became the Vice-President who played a supportive role, before becoming the President this semester. These positions have allowed me to hone my communication and decision-making skills, and they have also allowed me to see myself as a leader–a word I would have never used to describe myself before college.
- Building your resume. Upon graduating college, many of our resumes will be quite bare. As students, many of us don’t have the time to gain work experience other than part-time jobs and internships. Being able to share on your resume that you participated actively in a club, or even held a board position, will show your dedication and diversification of skills to any recruiter. In fact, during a tour–yes, another great professional development opportunity that I wouldn’t have been able to have had I not been in BEST–I learned from a recruiter that they look very positively upon people who are in clubs or held board positions because it shows their passion, dedication, and ability to create and bring value to those around them.