Student Orgs: Why I get involved, and why you should, too
I’ve mentioned before that I’m involved in stuff. At the end of my last post I mentioned the importance of involvement with student organizations here on campus. I guess I realized as I continued to think about it that my feelings on the subject are more than what fits into a little blurb at the tail of my FCS love story.
In my case, there’s a plethora of reasons I get involved:
I like to be busy. The more I have to do, the more motivated I am–it’s the way I ward off procrastination, whichhhhhh I would have a big ole’ problem with otherwise. For me, having a day that’s somewhat regimented helps me to feel as if I have something to do with all of my time. It encourages me to plan and to use that time wisely as a result.
I like to help people. This is something I’ve discovered in myself over the past couple of years through-you guessed it-trying my hand at campus involvement. I never realized before I came to college how much a little bit of my time could do for someone else.
I like knowing what’s going on on campus. This is one of the unique things about college–it’s a super vibrant community, probably more than you realize, concentrated in such a small area. Have you realized that this school has nine THOUSAND students? It’s dizzying to think about. Connecting with an org helps you to filter through this barrage of information and happenings and to truly engage with what interests you, or what you find important.
I have a hard time meeting people. Historically, I have been so painfully socially uncomfortable that I didn’t feel as if I could connect with people without a specific reason or purpose. Not only has campus involvement given me that reason and that purpose, it has really helped me develop good friendships and has armed me with the skills I need to be a more effective communicator (and to become a great deal more outgoing in general). While I feel a little weird admitting this as a motivation, I also suspect that there are plenty of other people out there who feel the same way that I have. Can’t recommend it enough!
I’m in education. I’m sure this case can be made for a lot of different career dreams, but education is a great example of a field in which professional development is absolutely imperative.
I’d like to speak to this in more depth. I knew from the moment I entered college, even before I was here at UW-Stevens Point, that a big part of education is developing as a professional outside of the classroom. Not only does acquiring and nurturing professional and peer connections help you in the job market, it helps you to develop in your ability to do your job to the best of your abilities. Through these sorts of connections, you can collaborate with other teachers, find and develop the best curriculum, receive invaluable tips about upcoming job positions, and just generally get an ear to the pulse of the professional world in which you’re trying to find your place. This is important stuff–if you foster the right relationships and seek out experiences that will help you develop as a professional, it absolutely has a huge impact on your employability after college. That’s why I wanted to go to a four-year in the first place: I knew that I wanted to get in on my majors’ professional development opportunities ASAP. This can get crazy for future teachers, since there are education organizations as well as organizations for almost every specific major. I’m not in any general education-related org, but I joined SPAFCS (Stevens Point Affiliate of Family and Consumer Sciences) because of my family & consumer sciences major. It’s the bomb, totally. You’ll hear about it a lot soon, I promise.
Profession-related orgs are also a great tool for taking a close look at a potential career to decide if you think it’s really for you. I’ve known people who joined an org and then found out there that it wasn’t their bag. The earlier you realize you don’t truly want one career/major, the easier it is to find and transition into the one that’s right for you.
There’s also a good number of organizations that aren’t specific to a type of career, like StWEA is to education and to PRSSA is to public relations hopefuls. Some organizations have a core of general leadership skill development–and with any org, you take away what you choose to. I’m interested in student leadership and policies that affect students, so I joined SGA. I had no experience in writing legislation and I don’t in any way plan to go forth into politics (I took exactly one Poli Sci class). But it’s crazy cool to learn about, and I feel as if I’m really contributing to student welfare. I know so much more about campus and beyond now–especially parking structures, at the moment–than I ever thought I would.
And BY NO MEANS is that the only type of involvement I’d encourage you to foster. It’s definitely worth thinking about your career goals and about ways in which you can become a leader so you can go forth and take the “real world” by storm. But organizations by interest are also a great, great way to grow personally and to make connections. There’s a Video Game Club on campus. My cousin just came to UWSP this fall as a first-year and joined the Anime Club, and now they’re all carpooling to a convention next weekend (she’s amped). It’s a great way to learn new things about stuff you love, and it’s a phenomenal way to meet people with interests similar to yours. Also helps you meet people outside of your major, which introduces you to perspectives and things you might otherwise miss.
Basically if you haven’t already done so, you should strongly consider joining stuff. Is there an organization for your major? Check out one of their meetings. Thinking about switching to another major? Check out one of THEIR meetings–it’s a lotttt easier than switching and RE-switching majors to find out what’s for you. Want to go into a specific profession that has an org? Defffinitely check that one out. A lot of orgs have professionals already in the field come in to speak, and that can be hella illuminating.
- Like to write? There’s an org for that. Join it. They publish stuff.
- Like lizards and other scaly things? Herpetology has an org.
- Do you like fighting with foam weapons? Yeahp, org for that.
- Want to learn more about the LGBTQ community, to show your support? Guess what, there’s an org.
- Are you a veteran, do you know one, do you love ‘em? Org.
- There’s literally too many orgs to write about. There’s like 200 of them.
Check out the Student Involvement and Employment Office if you want to see the full list. It’s nuts.
Amy Vida is a junior at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point majoring in family & consumer sciences and English.