I was terrified the first time I went to a student org meeting. But why? I had been to a ton of high school clubs, and had always been involved, so what was different here? Maybe it was the fact that I went to high school with a class size of 150, so when I went to meetings in high school, chances were good I was going to see somebody I knew, or at least know their names. At Ohio State, there are more than 46,000 undergraduate students, so, a bit different. Maybe I was nervous because I was going to Psych Club and I was just a freshman, only having taken the beginner psychology class, so I was going to be so less informed as everyone else. Or, maybe I was nervous because everyone always talked about the importance of clubs and being involved. I needed to be the perfect amount of involved.
Lesson 1: The First Meeting, Nobody Knows Anybody
I walked in expecting everyone to already know each other, but the reality is, everyone was like me, just sitting quietly and exchanging small talk with each other, and it was just a relaxing environment. I sat down and introduced myself to the person sitting next to me. We started with the beginning questions that everyone asks when they first meet in college, such as, “What’s your name, major, and where are you from?” We started with some small talk about our psychology classes and what we liked and didn’t like. And then the meeting started.
Lesson 2: The Executive Board Wants to Hear from You
The executive board of the club started with a few introductions of themselves, and then explained the basics of the club, such as how dues worked, when they would be meeting, and other small things like t-shirts. Then they asked us to fill out a survey to see what we wanted to learn about. This was my time to write down psych club topics that I wanted to learn about in my free time. They were looking for good suggestions in order to craft the club content to the students, because at the end of the day, student organizations exist to get students interested and learning about things that they won’t learn in the classroom. This means that executive boards want to hear from you, so don’t be afraid to share your opinion and what you want to see the club do, whether that’s meetups outside of club hours to get food, or volunteering within the scope of the club.
Lesson 3: Don’t Be There for the Resume
It’s important to note that when you are deciding what clubs you want to spend your time at, identify which clubs you are excited to go to, and which ones are for your resume. It’s pretty obvious if you aren’t into the club if you are just there to look involved. When you are putting clubs on your resume, make sure to elaborate on what you did in each club, including volunteer day trips or projects you did–anything to illustrate how your involvement affected your learning.
Trying to decide which student organizations you want to attend and put your time toward can be a real struggle. You have to start deciding what you want to spend your time doing and how you think you will be able to handle them along with your classwork. One piece of advice I can give you is to just enjoy your time. Make friends around you in your clubs and try to make it a break in your day, not something to stress about.