Ways to make the most out of University - Part 1: Organizations
Hello all! Beginning today (today being the day this post is published) we begin a new series here on the Blog! Aimed at showing you how YOU can make the most out of University. Yes, even as an international student who has never even heard the words Design team. How did I learn to expand on my university experience, and go beyond what I knew a US University to be (spoiler: I knew nothing).
Our first stop is going to be a deep dive into the concept of Organization. Before we continue, I would like to emphasize, that this post will mainly focus on the groups of organizations that we generally could refer to as associations, clubs, etc. Design teams, Societies, and others will receive a separate post, to cover all of our bases, but separately.
Organizations, organizations. Well, when I was first presented with this idea, I knew as much about them, as nothing. And I mean absolutely nothing. Organizations can come in several different shapes, forms, sizes. Some are just simple clubs: intended to bring a group of people with a similar interest together. Such as our lovely Chocolate Milk club. What do they do? Meet every week and drink chocolate milk. Simple as that, students join to do social activities, that they enjoy, together. A keyword, being above, is that organizations can be quite easily split up based on the sort of activities they do. As you will come to learn, pretty much all of them will do social activities. As you would expect even with professional friends it can be nice to have chocolate milk.
However, clubs will mainly focus on doing only social events. From picnics to movie nights, to driving cars together, it can be anything that is just for fun.
Another main category is professional organizations. Now, these will be a little harder to digest. These clubs will mainly spend their time helping you develop a professional skill. There are many of these for pretty much every profession.
To stay with easy examples, there are about a billion engineering clubs. That organize events to help you become a better engineer. Resume workshops, networking events, panels, speeches, talks, workshops, etc. Their primary goal is to provide professional events, that aid you in becoming better in a given professional field. They are still likely to have several social events, but their primary focus will not be that.
A main mentionable part about professional organizations is that they very often have nationwide organizations too. So the one at your school will be a section of a national organization. Great examples are SWE, AIAA, SEDS, etc. If you take any advice from this post is that you should JOIN THESE! Often these come with membership fees, however, they are more than worth your time.
Being a member brings you several perks. Access to platforms, events, conferences, scholarships, conferences, AND it's a great thing to put on your resume too. It lets companies know that you are very invested in the field, and stay up to date with current news, happenings.
Overall, I recommend the main goal of participating in those you like. There will be about hundreds to join. However, it is very important to keep a balance. Leadership positions are amazing within clubs. They teach you several new skills, from leadership to organization, professional connection keeping, and many, many many more. However, you do not need a leadership position in every club even as you go on with school. You can be a senior in a chocolate milk club, or even a professional organization simply to enjoy the events, and make friends.
If you are just starting out University, college, etc. I recommend you join as many as you like. You can always sign off listservs, or not go to every event, or their events at all. Try them, see which community you enjoy the most, and choose based on those.
Also, I know it can terrifying to begin attending meetings without friends. But I promise it is totally a great idea to go alone too and make new friends there. You already have one thing in common!