Do you belong to any college organizations now? Which one has helped your college life, and perhaps your career, the most?
You just finished a grueling round of finals. Sure, your mind right now is on Christmas vacation. But in a few days, with your belly full of Aunt Edna’s green bean casserole, you’re going to start thinking about school again. Or, perhaps more realistic, you’re going to start thinking about what happens after school.
Are you ready to find a job? Enter the workforce? Chances are… you are not. And you may need a boost to help get you there. And one of the best ways to do that? Joining an on-campus organization where you can improve your soft skills, hone your leadership skills, and do confidence-building work without committing to a heavy work schedule.
But where do you start? What organizations will most help your achieve your life and career goals? To give you something to think about this holiday season, we asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) this question:
What college organizations in college helped you grow the most and why?
Take a look at their helpful suggestions. Then, after you rock Christmas break, go back to school and figure out which college organizations you should join, and why.
1. Greek Life
Greek Life gets a bad rap, but while it taught me a ton about the obvious things (community, philanthropy, leadership), what it taught me more surprisingly was sales. I was Recruitment Chair and learned how to sell a group to over 1,000 prospects while managing a team of 150+ sisters. I learned so much about my abilities, shortcomings, how to sell and how to lead a team through this.
2. Alpha Kappa Psi Business Fraternity
I was one of the founding members of Alpha Kappa Psi at Western Washington University and found it very helpful to form a community of business-centric students. I still am close with many of those I was in the organization with and consider them strong business contacts. At our university, there weren’t a lot of options for joining beneficial business groups, but this organization finally offered that.
3. Entrepreneur Association
At UCLA, I benefited greatly joining and participating in the Entrepreneur Association. Not only did it allow me to be surrounded by brilliant, hard working minds, but it provided networking opportunities, conferences and workshops. I was truly surrounded by some of the greatest up-and-coming entrepreneurs, which pushed me to work even harder.
4. Collegiate Debate
I participated in my university debate team for three years, and the process of arguing a resolution is surprisingly similar to sales. It also taught me how to evaluate massive amounts of information, make quick decisions and adapt a message to my audience. Additionally, I met people from all backgrounds and beliefs and learned how to listen to and learn from a multitude of opinions.
5. Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO)
This national organization gave me an amazing opportunity to start a chapter of CEO on campus at Bryant University. This experience proved instrumental in my development as a young entrepreneur. By building our organization to over 150 members and competing for awards at the National Conference in Chicago in front of judges like Steve Wozniak, I felt well-prepared to build a company upon graduation.
6. Business Hatchery
At Babson College, undergraduates can to apply to a business hatchery program. For me, the hatchery provided necessary real world experience when it came to launching a venture. As a hatchery member, I was able to attend networking events focused on business strategy, legal advice, etc. In addition, all hatchery businesses had multiple faculty members working with them in advisor roles.
7. Interest-Themed Housing
Babson College has a number of interest-themed housing options, or “towers.” Themes include investment management, entrepreneurship, outdoor recreation, women’s leadership and more. Each tower consists of roughly 20 students all with a deep interest in the topic. It was a great way to build strong relationships that have led to partners, clients, co-workers and employees years down the line.
8. Toastmasters Club on Campus
Toastmasters is not exclusively a college organization, but that’s one of its advantages. It teaches public speaking skills as well as tips on listening and providing feedback to others. Many campuses have a Toastmasters club. In my club, only a small portion of the members were students; the rest were faculty and local business people. It was a fantastic learning and networking opportunity.
9. Team Sports
When I was in college I was a member of the varsity soccer and track and field teams. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was developing many skills, including working with a team, problem solving, and leadership. I was also developing a strong work ethic. In the end, I gained confidence that has helped me through many personal and professional situations in my adult life.
10. Peer and Friends Groups
For me, it wasn’t an organization that helped me grow so much as my entire peer group and the experiences I shared with those individuals. That group of friends taught me my core values, molded my ethics and business sensibilities, and helped to improve and enrich my life in ways I didn’t fully understand until I was well into my adult life.
Sharknet is an organization affiliated with Miami Dade College that is designed to keep you informed of any events in the surrounding area. Coming from the West Coast, I found this organization to be a great way to know the South Florida area a little better. It eventually became a great networking tool toward the end of my college career. I highly recommend it.
12. Self-Created Clubs
I started a club in college, completely focused on my own interest, but what I didn’t know was the lessons I would take from that experience. I learned to be a leader and that in order to get people to join and, more importantly, come back, I had to keep their interest with what we were doing. Also, I learned to adapt as the club changed over time. It was essentially a non-paying business.
13. Campus Newspaper
My four years at the campus paper were my first lessons in business. Working with an eager team, creating and balancing budgets quarter-after-quarter, and the constant hustle to sell ads to increase the size of the publication week-over-week created a buzz about our little publication. It’s where I first learned to leverage great stories, demand clean design and only hire authentic voices.
AIESEC is an organization that facilitates traveling experiences in new countries. The club gave me the opportunity to move to Egypt for three months with 100 people from around the world. It was the first organization that had a culture based on helping each other grow. Business is about connecting with others: partners, employees, vendors, etc. I learned how to do that through AIESEC.
15. Student Government
As students, we were in the weeds and affected by every small decision from the administration. As a member of the chancellor’s advisory committee, we could see how decisions were made at the top. My experience working with the student government helped me bridge those gaps to better understand both groups and where differences are usually created.
16. The American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA)
As a student, AIGA was great because it helped me keep an eye on what was happening in the professional design world while I was still studying. That extracurricular research helped give me an edge when I graduated and made my entrance into the workforce. I’m happy to say that it has all come full circle, and I am now a member on the board of advisors for AIGA’s LA chapter.
Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.