Let me start by saying that creating a student organization on campus can be a lot of work. However, it can also be the most rewarding experience of your post-secondary career.
As an introvert, I often found myself reluctant to join any group activities. But in my first year, I felt the need to step outside of my comfort zone. I told myself that I needed to say yes to as many opportunities as possible, otherwise I would miss out.
If I didn’t push myself in first year, I wouldn’t have created the Archery Club at the University of Toronto, Mississauga. And I definitely wouldn’t have become the confident introvert that I am today. My time as Founder and President was one the most memorable and enjoyable experiences of my post-secondary education; I built several relationship, learned tons from others, and grew personally and professionally. But, I didn’t set out to learn and grow from the club as much as I did. Nor did I expect it to be one of the most transformative experiences of my undergraduate career. Initially, I started an Archery Club for two simple reasons – I loved practising archery, and my university didn’t offer an outlet for students to practice archery. So, I seized the opportunity and took a chance on myself.
I hope these ten reasons to create a student organization will convince you to do the same:
1. You learn from other people
Your executive team, members, partners, and sponsors will teach you a lot about teamwork, cooperation, and fairness. You’ll learn how to handle difficult and stressful situations and how to mould yourself to cater to the different needs of everyone around you.
2. You learn a lot about yourself
Your team will be looking to their leader for direction, inspiration, and motivation. You’ll learn what type of leader you are, what type of leader your team needs, and how to continually improve your management and leadership style.
3. You improve your soft skills
Being a leader of your student group will help you improve your leadership, teamwork, time management, organizational, and communication skills. All of these skills are necessary and valuable, not only during your undergrad but also in today’s job market.
4. You learn time management
By running a club, your post-secondary experience won’t be limited to lectures, catching up on readings, and studying for exams. You’ll also be attending and facilitating weekly club meetings, planning club events, and maintaining your club’s finances. As a result, you’ll learn how to juggle between your academic and social life.
5. You build a community
When you start a student group, you meet new people through your executive team and your members who will begin to become your home away from home. The new community that you build will feel like a home for other students as well.
6. You provide value to the institution
A new student group offers intangible benefits and value for the post-secondary institution through fostering a sense of belonging for students and transforming their experience into meaningful contributions. Your institution will gain a reputation for inclusivity and valuing extra-curricular opportunities.
7. You gain valuable experiences
The mistakes you make, the goals you achieve, and the lessons you learn are all useful experiences you earn as a leader or even an executive member of your student group. These experiences will follow you to your future career in which you will be an asset to the organization for which you work.
8. You provide students with an outlet to express their shared interest
A student group not only brings together students with a shared interest, but it also provides an avenue for those students to show that interest through safe and formal or informal meeting spaces. Often, students don’t have the opportunity to express themselves outside of a classroom setting, and so creating a club can provide them with that open space.
9. You build your resume or portfolio
It’s important to showcase what you’ve done. Your resume and/or portfolio will illustrate your innovative and entrepreneurial qualities as well as your leadership potential, giving you an edge in your next job.
10. You have a fun and memorable post-secondary experience!
When my presidency with the Archery Club came to an end, I took a moment to reflect on the past three years. What I realized was that I gained a tremendous amount of experience that I wouldn’t have learned had I stayed solely in the classroom. Your grades matter, but only to an extent; your skills and experiences make a much more significant difference in both your personal and professional life. To put this into perspective, after graduation, I realized that I wanted to pursue project management. But that realize had little to do with my program, and almost everything to do with the project-related work I did via my extracurriculars (especially the Archery Club). I hope that this list convinced you to get off the fence and start a student organization on campus.
If for anything, do it for the benefit of better understanding what you love (or don’t love). Push yourself and say yes to everything until you absolutely can’t. In the words of author Caroline Myss:
“Always go with the choice that scares you the most, because that’s the one that is going to help you grow.”
A $35,000 Prize
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.