Getting Involved: Part 5 of 6

Getting Involved

This is post five of a six part series about involvement on campus. Part one discussed why I got involved, part two explained why I didn’t get involved sooner, part three touched on the opportunities available through being involved, part four talked about leadership experience, part five explains how to go about getting involved and briefly what it takes up front and part six are my thoughts going forward for post graduation involvement.

Getting Involved; Part 5: How to Join

If you are curious how to get involved on campus just know that it’s easy as long as you take proper initiative.

The first step you need to take is deciding what interests you, will benefit you, and/or help you along your career path. Once that decision is made there are various methods for finding further information. One resource is the university’s Student Association. Most universities have one or something like it that lists all the organizations, programs and services your school offers. NIU’s Student Association, for example, even has a “How to get Involved” link on their page. If you pick an organization out of the full university listing it generally gives you the contact information for the top officers as well as academic advisors for that organization. You then can reach out to those individuals for more information or follow a direct link to the organizations website.

Another way to obtain information specifically for something that aligns with your major is by talking to your academic advisor. They know what is going on in your college and major as it is their job to help students with these things. For example, there was someone a few weeks ago who was looking to join the Collegiate Sales Advisory Board and she had stopped in to talk to the marketing advisor on how to join CSAB. What she then proceeded to do was walk the student over to the dean’s office (where I’m working when I’m not in class) and brought the student directly to me to answer any questions she had. Point of the story is your academic advisor can help you and if there is information they don’t have they certainly know the person to point you to.

Another option is to speak to professors. Professors are always part of professional organizations on a national level but are well aware of the collegiate chapters within their own departments. Management professors will know a bit about the management student organizations just like marketing professors and the marketing organizations and so on.

The last (and in my opinion least effective way) is flyers or notices posted around campus. Not every organization has the manpower to reach every part of campus so you may not see something that would pertain to you. All the previously mentioned methods are more likely to get you involved in something that’s meant for you.

After speaking with people and gathering information the last step is to actually join. Generally there will be some sort of application or application process, dues to be paid, and sometimes some sort of rush or initiation. Some organizations also have policies in place to maintain “active” status which goes beyond simply paying dues, but requires you to be part of so many activities or events. All those factors depend upon the organization and are different for each one. Time commitment needed for organization also ranges depending on the organization but it also depends upon the individual as well. Generally you will only get out of it what you put into it. In other words, the more you get involved and active; you’ll take away a lot more and have a much better experience.

In my final installment of the ‘Getting Involved’ series I will share my thoughts on involvement in organizations after graduation in part six.

Getting Involved: Part 4 of 6

Getting Involved

This is post four of a six part series about involvement on campus. Part one discussed why I got involved, part two explained why I didn’t get involved sooner, part three touched on the opportunities available through being involved, part four talks about leadership experience, part five explains how to go about getting involved and briefly what it takes up front and part six are my thoughts going forward for post graduation involvement.

Getting Involved; Part 4: Leadership Experience

The final factor of importance that I want to stress about getting involved is leadership. The leadership experience gained through organizations is invaluable. Not only does it give you a learning opportunity of what it’s like to organize, plan and pull everything together for an organization to operate but it also illustrates a ton of skills to prospective employers. When you develop your leadership skills you learn various styles of leadership such as coaching, directing and delegating. You learn when to explicitly lay out instruction or put your faith in someone and empower them to let their skills develop in accomplishing tasks.

Going a little deeper, holding a leadership position obviously forces you to become efficient at working with others on a hierarchical level and also as members of an equal team unit. You improve your organizational skills, communication skills as well as time management skills when you run an organization and balance school at the same time.

Now you may be thinking, “You’re talking about being at the top of the ladder. I won’t be starting there or I may not even get there!” That is true, the opportunity and the fit has to be just right, sometimes accompanied by a stroke of luck on timing. Not all those top positions will necessarily be available during your tenure in an organization (which means you should join early!) However, any position on the executive board of an organization will hone the aforementioned skills of good communication, time management, teamwork, and to an extent, some of those leadership skills if you have tasks that require you to assemble a team for to help you complete those objectives.

Not every company looks to hire someone from college and place them straight into a management role but sometimes that is the absolutely the case. However, when companies look to invest in their future by investing in you, it makes you that much more valuable to their company by possessing those skills and experiences.

In part five of this series I elaborate on how to get involved with organizations on campus.

What is this CAUSE all about?

I’m excited to interrupt the “Getting Involved” series of posts (which will resume next week) in order to introduce the very first Guest Post!  This week’s Guest Post comes from Ryan Sterling, a senior at NIU’s College of Business.  Ryan is also a co-Founder and Events Director of NIU CAUSE, a new student organization in the college.  Here are Ryan’s own words about NIU CAUSE, why it’s so meaningful, and how you can participate and make a difference in the world.

 What is this CAUSE all about ~ by Ryan Sterling Head Shot Professional What is this CAUSE all about?

In the coming months I will be taking the next steps in life, that of course being graduation and then a career in sales. I have been so fortunate to take part in so many opportunities here at NIU and in the College of Business (COB). All of which I feel have set me up for what I believe will be a successful career. That being said in my final semester I ask myself why I should put more on my plate by founding an organization. Well, the short answers are I love being involved, and giving back to the community. But CAUSE is so much more than that to me.

This semester I needed more credit hours in the college and so a friend recommended I take a course in the college called:  Management 311 Social Entrepreneurship (MGMT 311). Going into the course I didn’t know really much about MGMT 311 except Dennis Barsema was the instructor. In the first class Mr. Barsema asked if anyone would be interested in starting a social entrepreneurship (SE) club. The following class sessions I had become so empowered that I had to do something to improve the community around me and those abroad. After several meetings just this semester CAUSE was off the ground and running.

The name was one of the harder things to establish. We wanted to include SE in to the title and one of the founders came up with the acronym CAUSE and we liked it but we didn’t have a word to use for the letter U. After a few days an idea came to Dr. Christine Mooney (NIU CAUSE’s faculty advisor) while she was attending a conference. “Unreasonable” she said in the following week’s executive board meeting. The Power of Unreasonable People: How Social Entrepreneurs Create Markets That Change the World by authors John Elkington and Pamela Hartigan the book we are reading in MGMT 311. It was only fitting that we use the term because of what the definition means in the book “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world” whereas “the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” That is how the Collegiate Association of Unreasonable Social Entrepreneurs (CAUSE) was born.

Panel Picture 2 224x300 What is this CAUSE all about?After we met for a few weeks CAUSE was ready with a series of informational meetings to get the word out, and find out why other people want to make a difference. As the Events Director, I was responsible for putting together our kickoff event Panel Discussion this past Tuesday night which featured Rowan Richards of Steward’s Market and Kathleen Wright of Collaborative Group. The turnout and execution of the event was simply rewarding and I know my fellow peers were able to take something away from the experience. I encourage everyone to join NIU CAUSE and take part in the Entrepreneurship certificate classes. I am glad I learned about other ways businesses can positively affect their customers.

CAUSE logo 300x138 What is this CAUSE all about?Here’s how you can join CAUSE and make a difference in the world by attending our weekly meetings Tuesday nights in Barsema Hall Room 227 at 6:30pm. In addition, Follow @NIUCAUSE on Twitter, Add us on Facebook at C.A.U.S.E (Collegiate Association of Unreasonable Social Entrepreneurs), or by sending your email address to  me at Richard.Ryan.Sterling@gmail.com and we will be more than happy to add you to our Google Group  which will keep you updated with upcoming events. This is a new organization so we are receptive to hearing about any way people want to make a difference and we are more than willing to help people make that impact.