Career Peers Tell All: Why joining a student org is important

In my opinion, joining a club or organization is imperative to the college experience. When I was a freshman, I decided to rush a sorority. I came into the organization expecting to find lifelong friends and unforgettable experiences (which-trust me-I have), but ended up finding so much more. Though there is a somewhat of a stigma on Greek Life, I don’t think I know a single person who joined a house just to party and wear the letters. Yes, I’m still in my junior year in college, but I firmly believe that my sorority will continue to enrich my life far after June 2017.

Early in my freshman year, I went out to dinner and my debit card didn’t go through. As I had feared, Freebirds sucked the last of my graduation money. Reflecting on my history with lottery scratchers, I figured it was probably time to get a job. At this point in my life, all I had done was work at a summer camp and my only cover letter was written jokingly for a high school graduation requirement (to give you a preview, the letter was addressed to NASA…yeah). In short: I had no idea what to do.

This is where my sorority first came in handy. A girl in the house worked at Career Services, so I told her my current predicament. After laughing (with me, not at me), she recommended I attend a career services peer info session. I found this recommendation super intimidating, especially since my resume still had word art on it. I have since shredded all evidence of this resume.

I went to the info session anyways, having no idea what to expect. No major requirements? Okay. Didn’t have to be a junior to apply? Yep. A bi-weekly paycheck? Sold. My friend who worked there at the time told her boss about me and I ended up getting hired. This is when I first realized just how valuable my sorority connections could be.

A few months later, my sorority held elections and I was elected as Recording Secretary. This was a great opportunity for me to hone my organizational and leadership skills. The following year, my chapter elected me as the Vice President of Organization. Serving this position was easily one of my best college experiences, and I still talk about it in job interviews and on my resume. I know that not everyone will believe me, but your involvement in student organizations can be just as valuable as your work experience. If you have a leadership position in your organization, you are learning valuable skills that employers are looking for. Even if you don’t have time for a position, help plan an event or take on some extra responsibilities. And put it on your resume. Trust me.

At the beginning of last year, I had finally declared my major, but still couldn’t pinpoint my career aspirations. Thinking I might be interested in starting my own company after college, I checked my LinkedIn groups to see if I could find someone to conduct an informational interview with. I did a quick search for “entrepreneurs” in my sorority alumni page and found an overwhelming amount of results. When I reached out to some of the women, I figured I wouldn’t hear back. People who’ve graduated have pretty busy lives, or so I hear. I was wrong. Something about our common sorority affiliation made them want to take the time out of their day to help me.

If you’re in a club right now and haven’t gotten anything out of it, you’re in the wrong club. College organizations are so valuable and being a part of one that you are passionate about will change your life. Through my sorority, I have gotten a job, valuable leadership experiences and skills, and a powerful network. Yes, you don’t have to be in a club to get a job during or after college. Yes, you can network with people without joining an organization. Yes, you can have a resume without on-campus leadership positions. But if I were you, I wouldn’t risk it.

Written by Alexa Dickinson, third year Communication and TMP Major at UCSBAlexaDickinson-21web