Get involved to finish strong
Senior year brings all sorts of new stress: trying to make your GPA look as nice as possible, worrying about graduation and getting that first post-college full-time job are among the chief concerns. Some might even think that it’s too late to give themselves an edge that last semester.
Turning things around and preparing oneself for what lies ahead all depends on the person. There are some small things that someone can do to prepare for the real world.
One easy, perhaps crucial, thing to do is join a student organization.
Accounting junior Priyanka Upponi joined Entrepreneur Action Us UH (ENACTUS UH) and said it convinced her to open up.
“It helps push you to go out and meet new people and market yourself,” Upponi said. “It’s a great way to start networking.”
ENACTUS UH is known for its charity work, something that looks excellent on a resume and could help in meeting new students.
“We do a lot of charity events,” Upponi said. “There was a program to get band instruments for a middle school, and last year there was a program to raise money for a playground.”
Involvement can also improve communication skills. The student organization that promotes the C.T. Bauer College of Business, Bauer Ambassadors, helped management senior Saralinda Martinez become a better communicator and recruiter.
“Bauer Ambassadors helped me develop my communication skills by putting me in positions where I had to talk to crowds such as Cougar Preview, and one-on-one (interviews) when I am recruiting,” Martinez said.
Bauer Ambassadors takes their name seriously as they do a lot to promote the college.
“We do Bauer events, like recruiting incoming students and talking to them about opportunities that Bauer can provide, especially in Houston,” Martinez said. “We give tours around the business area and host the Bauer portion of Cougar Preview.”
One might think that getting more involved will take time away from studies and grades will suffer, but joining a student organization has been shown to boost GPAs. According to a study by Truman State University, an average of .2 semester points are gained by students who get involved in an organization.
In some clubs, such as the Management Information Systems Student Organization, there are preparation clinics for the upcoming programming tests in which an experienced student walks a group of students through a few practice problems using the language taught in the class. If you join an organization that pertains to certain college or major, you are surrounded by students that have taken some of the same classes; being able to talk shop and surround oneself with potential study partners could be beneficial.
Joining a student organization could also do wonders for one’s future career.
According to the facts and statistics section of the MISSO website, average starting salary from 2010 to 2011 for people involved with the organization was almost $5,000 more than the salaries of non-affiliates. The organization also hosts exclusive student meetings with top companies and host private job fairs where MISSO students talk to and submit resumes to employers looking for interns or full-time employees. Membership, particularly as an officer, in a student organization is also is a plus on a resume.
Joining a student organization pays dividends after college.
Networking is a major aspect of joining any organization. The likelihood of meeting someone who could really help you in your professional career is high, particularly since the advent of social media makes keeping in touch easy. LinkedIn has a group page of almost 90 alumni who were involved in MISSO and are looking to get back in touch or professionally network, as does the Institute of Supply Management-Bauer. There are also events for alumni such as the Alumni Barbecue and Crawfish Boil for ISM-Bauer, where one can network with other alumni and share experiences with students.
When looking for a job, it also is never a bad thing to have friends who graduated before you and are already there.
Martinez, who desires a position in Human Resources, considers her recruiting and leadership experience in Bauer Ambassadors valuable, particularly in a job market where being able to recruit makes you highly touted.
“My recruiting experience and being a student leader makes me stand out,” Martinez said.
Hosting different events, something ENACTUS UH is known for, also shows leadership and the ability to communicate to a future employer.
“When you host these different events, you can put it on your resume and it looks good. It gives you an edge over people who haven’t volunteered in school,” Upponi said.
If you’re feeling anxious about the rapidly approaching reality of life after college and feeling unprepared, at least talking to an officer of a student organization and seeing what it has to offer is a smart move. Something as simple as that could be a big part of that last push to get one from college to that first job.
Jacob Patterson is a management information systems senior and may be reached at [email protected]