7/05/2018

Freshman 15: Getting Involved on Campus — It's Worth it!

I was heavily involved in high school. My training and love of dance allowed me the opportunity to be involved with both the competitive dance team and in the theatre department. I also could be seen after school decorating signs for the football games, serving as a member of National Honors Society, and in a variety of clubs. It took some trial and error to find what I truly enjoyed, but I loved being a member of different organizations and the opportunity to meet students in a variety of areas within the school.

When I started at The University of Alabama, I dove head first into getting involved. Because of being so involved in high school, I knew if I wasn't involved I would be bored (...and want to go home). While it didn't happen overnight, starting to get involved in my first few weeks at school made a huge impact on the rest of my year and helped keep me busy.


Having something to do on campus besides schoolwork and social opportunities opened several doors for me this year. I got to work with professors in the communication school, became friends with experienced students who became my mentors, and learned outside the classroom in a multitude of ways. I am involved in a few different areas on campus, which I love because I am meeting students in different majors and from different areas of the country. I feel like I am growing professionally and personally in my different roles, and have a sense of belonging on campus.

Looking back, there are a few different actions I took that really helped me find a great fit with where I got involved on campus. I think attending a large school with hundreds of organizations and opportunities can be incredibly overwhelming, and my advice would be to just narrow down your list and prioritize what sounds most interesting to you! Here's how I found my involvement on campus:

Do your research.
During the summer, I used social media to find organizations I might be interested in when I got to school. I looked through the business and communication colleges' respective social media profiles and saw the different organizations within each college, and then followed a few organizations that sounded interesting. This way I had some familiarity with a few groups on campus prior to getting there and could see from their posts what they do on campus. Following along is also a great and easy way to stay updated on how to get involved and any application deadlines.

Go to involvement day.
At Alabama, one of the first events of the year is called Get On Board Day.  It usually takes place during the first week of school, and the afternoon consists of almost every group on campus setting up a table right between the student center and the Quad. These organizations have fliers and sign up sheets, and members are ready to speak to students about getting involved in their group. They can tell you when the first meeting is, what the application process looks like (if there is one), and speak about their experience in the organization. I believe almost every school has an event similar to Get On Board Day. I highly, highly recommend going to whatever event your school has. Try to find about three clubs or organizations you might be interested in getting involved in whether its service, intramural, religious, professional or so many others. By no means is this your final decision on what you will sign up for this year, but this is a great way to get information about involvement easily, quickly and in person.

Apply, apply, apply!
Between doing some research prior to getting to school as well as attending Get On Board Day, I crafted a list of three organizations that interested me. One organization did not require an application while the other two did. I attended the first meeting for the application-less organization and discovered it was not quite the right fit for me and applied for the other two hoping one would work out. While I was not accepted into one, I was asked to interview for the other, and learned of my acceptance into Capstone Agency, a student-run public relations firm, just a few days later.

Several opportunities on campus are application-based, so if you are looking for something to work on this summer I recommend putting together a business resume if you do not already have one. This will be a huge time-saver when applications open up and will be one less thing to worry about if you already have one ready. Additionally throughout the year, I had several interviews for different organizations, positions and opportunities. As you think about getting involved, one way to prepare for this potential step is to review some common interview questions. I would also recommend having a few questions that you can ask the interviewer at the end of your interview. This Everygirl article is one of my favorites and helped me craft my own questions for the end of my interviews.

Application and interview-based organizations on campus can be selective. It can be discouraging at times when it feels like you give something your all and not receive the result you desired. I am a firm believer in the saying, "when one door closes, another one opens." This held true for me several points during my freshman year. My biggest piece of advice is to just keep applying and looking for organizations that interest you. Finding your fit on campus may take time, but it will totally pay off in the end when you end up where you're supposed to be!

Speak with upperclassmen and find out what they are involved in.
One way I found out about other opportunities on campus was through upperclassmen. Through my friends in my sorority and other students in Capstone Agency, I learned about what others were involved in and quickly became interested in becoming more active on campus. I learned about Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) which went hand-in-hand with Capstone Agency and helped me learn more about the public relations field. A friend in my sorority encouraged me to apply for an ambassador organization because of my love for both the university and talking to potential students. I learned about the Industry Immersion trip I took to New York through members in Capstone Agency, too. Just talking with others and having a desire to pursue new opportunities opened doors for experiences that shaped my freshman year.

No matter what you are involved in, I recommend speaking with upperclassmen and asking what they have been involved in during their time on campus. Did they like it? Would they recommend it? Do they think you'd be a good fit? There is so much to learn from older students, and I think they are some of the best people to give honest and real answers about their experiences. While you may not have the same experience as them, be open-minded and take their advice into consideration when thinking about what you might also want get involved in on campus.

Finding involvement that's right for you can be a challenge. Especially going to a large school, there are countless ways to get involved and sometimes trying to find your fit on campus can be overwhelming. However, I found being involved so worth the effort and was a pivotal part of my comfort being away from home and helped me work on my personal and professional growth.

What are your tips for finding your fit on campus?

xo,
Kathleen

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