From meeting new people to gaining administrative, creative, and leadership experience—joining a student club can set you up for wild success.
Here’s the drill. You want to get some of that free swag or maybe a nice-looking baked good from one of the groups at your school but you know it often comes with a hidden cost: time spent listening to the students offering said goodies, explaining to you why joining their club or society will be the greatest thing ever.
Here’s the thing: they’re probably right.
I began my first year of university with the dream of becoming a writer. However, first-year English was not all sunshine and roses. I was repeatedly told that my essays were “too imaginative” and “too implausible”. I felt defeated, but didn’t give up—I started my own writing club with one clear vision: empower fellow dreamers. By the end of the year, I had 7 executive members by my side, a published book, a photo project, and 40+ helping hands of young aspiring writers across the city.
The experience was a total game-changer.
So whether you’re starting one or joining one, getting involved with the right student club or society will help you in ways that will dramatically improve your student experience.
1. You meet new people.
You might not identify with any particular student club or society. Maybe, you simply want to join one to do something with your spare time. Either way, you’re almost guaranteed to make new friends. If you’re joining to explore opportunities within your field, you can find a way to meet professionals at companies you’re interested in. Certain clubs and societies even curate experiences to connect students with these professionals, some of whom are alumni. This could make your life a whole lot easier when you graduate and pursue a career in your desired field.
I’ve been able to meet amazing professionals through the society I joined. In fact, I was able to speak with an education coordinator from Microsoft at their headquarters! The opportunity helped me to better understand that I’m not the best fit for that role/company, which is still a valuable thing to learn early on. On another occasion, I met a marketing director at a creative agency. This opened up the door to an internship that left me believing that a career in marketing and public relations was what I truly wanted.
2. You find people who have similar interests.
If you’re someone who has no idea what they want to do with their career, participating in extra-curricular activities will bring you closer to people who have the same hobbies or interests as you. By surrounding yourself with people who have similar interests, you gain:
- Peer Motivation. Their hard work, motivation, and dedication to their education and professional development will positively impact your mindset. Your friends will push you and encourage you to study with them, attend events together, and keep you accountable.
- Shared Information. Your friends will want what is best for you. On occasion, they will share with you opportunities or information about important companies, career paths, job fairs, and professional conferences.
- Empathy. You’ve got a stronger shared experience with your friends. You’ll understand their goals, their challenges, and their feelings a lot better.
You can also use this opportunity to explore different interests. You don’t need to be a philosophy major to join the philosophy club. Want to learn to dance? There’s usually a club for that too. You get the idea.
3. You discover that there’s more to school than assignments, tests, and a degree.
In the words of Steve Jobs:
“Do what you love. Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”
Although a college dropout, Jobs created a company worth over $1 trillion and initiated several paradigm shifts in consumer technology. Joining a student club or society will bring you closer to people who want to do big, creative, and imaginative things. In fact, it’s how Steve Jobs met Steve Wozniak.
By being around people you want to be like, it’s easier to feel motivated and to know that you are on the right track. Most people around you in school focus on going to classes only to go home soon after. By making friends and connecting with a community who are constantly striving to do more with their time, you will find it easier to do more with yours.
4. You get valuable administrative, creative, and leadership experience.
When graduation comes around, you’ll quickly discover that your academic experience is not always enough. With internships, co-op placements, and facilitated networking happening all around you, you need to take advantage of every single competitive edge you can get. It might seem like “just a student club” to some, but in reality, being a part of a student club builds a lot of valuable skills, including:
- Team management
- Volunteer coordination
- Stakeholder management
- External relations
- Event planning
Many of these skills can be transferable to a wide variety of industries. They can be the difference between you and another candidate. Make “fail fast, fail often” your mantra; by putting yourself through more experiences, and giving yourself opportunities to make mistakes and learn from them. It’s better to make mistakes while in school than at your first corporate job.
5. You can find job opportunities through club alumni.
Speaking from experience, my society focused on connecting students to alumni who graduated with the same degree as theirs. We created events where students met with alumni who took on jobs in industries they were interested in. Some students were even lucky enough to receive job opportunities using these connections. These events were so important because they made first-year students feel comfortable connecting to the alumni, who went through the same struggles as them. Knowing that the hard work would pay off someday encouraged them to stay motivated.
Likewise, many students find it difficult to write and format resumes, so another event we created was The Resume Critique night. We invited students to perfect their resumes with professionals from various industries and it was yet another professional resource students could pick up from a club.
BONUS: Even more reasons to join a student club or society.
And if all of the aforementioned reasons weren’t enough for you, here’s a quick list of even more reasons why you should join a club. You will…
- Get to indulge in your passions and build your skills (sports, creativity, leadership, social justice).
- Have valuable experience to put on your resume when you graduate (or even before, when you are looking for a summer job or internship).
- Learn and make mistakes when you are young and with fewer consequences.
- Be able to pursue your own ideas with the funding and human resources available to you.
- Learn how to communicate, work in, and manage a team.
- Wear multiple hats. If you work for a small company, you will learn how everything works. In a club, that holds true even more strongly.
- Be more productive. Joining a club or society can motivate you to get out of bed every day.
- Experience the joy of providing meaningful and valuable opportunities to other students.
University doesn’t always challenge you in practical, hands-on ways. A student club or society can. Remember: you’re a student. Your coworkers are students. You all get it. In a club or society, you can pretty much find the most accommodating work experience you’ll ever get.
How about joining our student club?
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.