Making Your Involvement Matter | “Connecting the Dots”

This week’s post is from our Student Activities Assistant Director, Emily Holmes. This is our final post on how you can make your involvement matter and get the most out of student organization involvement here at Southern Miss.

What if I told you that your involvement in college is shaping who you are? What if I told you that the skills and experiences you have while being engaged in college can help you determine your future?

Emily Holmes Assistant Director for Student Activities

Emily Holmes
Assistant Director for Student Activities

If you were like me in college, you wouldn’t have really thought much about it. I got involved because I enjoyed meeting new people, and I loved the traditions and culture on campus and wanted to be a part of it.   As an undergraduate student at Southern Miss, I was involved in Eagle Connection, Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society, and the University Activities Council (UAC) now the Southern Miss Activities Council (SMAC).  While not “over-involved,” I spent my time in quality experiences I got a lot out of. It wasn’t until I was in my senior year that I began to really start considering what I wanted to do after graduation. Luckily, I had good mentors in these student organizations that encouraged me to consider a future in student affairs. They pointed out my leadership experience in organizations, my dedication to the university and my desire to serve others as quality indicators that I would be good fit for the program.

While a career in student affairs is not for everyone, I encourage you to connect the dots in your undergraduate engagement experience on campus with what is in store for your future. It is never too early to put those plans into action. Here are three ways to do that:

1. Seek opportunities.

Em-Africa06

Emily in Kenya during her time as a camp counselor in Eastern Africa
Summer 2006

Not everyone can be the president of a student organization. And maybe that isn’t something you desire, but you should seek out opportunities to be engaged in your organizations.  Maybe you can chair a committee or be the person in charge of an upcoming event. The experiences you get when you embrace these opportunities give you critical skills development. When you are interviewing for jobs upon graduation and a potential employers asks you to expound on your involvement in a specific organization, what do you think they want to hear? They don’t just want to know that you were a member. They want to hear about your leadership development, the skill set you developed, and how you gave back. Seek out the opportunities now!

2. See the potential.

Start to see your out of the classroom experience as just as important as your inside the classroom one. I am not saying academics is not important or that it shouldn’t be your focus. Quite the opposite. You’ve got to make the grades to stay in school to be here and be involved. But, begin to look at your involvement as a potential indicator for future success. Start connecting the experiences you have in these organizations with how that makes you a good candidate for a job when you graduate. Keep track of the skills you are developing and the learning lessons you’ve had to keep focused on putting together the best you possible. Recognize that every experience you have is a potential skill to develop or lesson to learn. And then process those experiences and remember how you grew from them!

3. Connect the dots and put it all together.

Four years goes by really fast. Don’t be afraid to take that leap towards more involvement or better leadership experiences sooner rather than later. If your ultimate goal in college is to graduate with an education that secures you a job, get serious about making that happen. Make a résumé now if you don’t already have one and keep it updated each semester with the leadership opportunities you’ve added. Visit with your mentors on campus to get advice on your future. Begin to see your involvement as a way to grow and develop on campus and then jump right in!

We in the Student Activities Office love watching you grow and enjoy sharing these experiences with you! Come see us if you ever need anything! Best of luck to you this year and in the future! You’re doing great things at Southern Miss and beyond!

 

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