The Importance of Student Organizations

24 01 2011

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Over the past couple of years, I have formed a pretty strong opinion about the importance of student organizations. As a recent graduate from the College of Business and Economics at Towson University, my participation in various student organizations helped pave my current career path. Quite frankly, I never would have thought that I would have ended my college career the way I did. By the time I graduated, I was a recipient of five scholarships, had completed four internships, was named to the dean’s list three times, honored for a Vice President of Student Affairs Award and College of Business and Economics Outstanding Graduate. In addition, I placed as a finalist in the College of Business and EconomicsThe Associate competition.

I still recall the day when I toured Stephens Hall (the business school at Towson University). The Director of Student Academic Services mentioned that she thought I would become involved in student organizations and make a name for myself by the time I graduated. I did not think this would be the case. However, all of this changed halfway through my college career. As I was entering the spring semester in my sophomore year, I met with the Director of Professional Experience within the College of Business and Economics. She suggested I start participating in student organizations within my concentration. At the time, I was planning on pursuing a degree in Business Administration with a major in Marketing. I joined the American Marketing Association and the e-Business Association and eventually declared a combined major with e-Business.

This same semester, as I was a member of both the American Marketing Association and the e-Business Association, I also assumed the role of Treasurer for the Towson University Tree Club. Over the next few semesters, I became actively involved in the student organizations within the College of Business and Economics. By the time I graduated had served as President, Web Master, Treasurer, VP of Membership, VP of Programs, VP of Finance, and Student Liaison for a total of five different organizations. The participation in these organizations helped prepare me for the business environment that I currently work in and taught me how to improve my time management skills.

Towson University, the largest comprehensive university in the Baltimore area, with a total enrollment of 21,840 as of Fall 2010, has 237 different student organizations to become involved in. If you do the math, that means that there’s a 92:1 ratio of students to student organizations. I don’t think that all of these students are participating in these clubs, but my question is why not?

Having a leadership role in these organizations allowed me to interact with the student body, tour local companies, develop new skill sets, and graduate having made a name for myself within the university. If I had to retrace my steps, I certainly would have been just as involved, if not more. When interviewing for internships and full time positions, I was able to explain how my experiences formed transferable skills which I would be able to use for the jobs I was applying for.

From speaking with current employers, faculty members, and alumni one characteristic that we all look for in new hires is experience outside the classroom. There are definitely enough student organizations to participate in, so why would a student not become involved?

It boggles my mind because the experience from these five different organizations introduced me to dozens of local business professionals and expanded my network. I’ve formed valuable relationships which I still have to this day. I’ve learned far more from these interactions than I could have by just reading a textbook. How has your experience been with student organizations and do you agree with me? If not, please explain to me how active participation in student organizations is not beneficial, because I’m willing to take a stand for my case.

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