Over the past few years, our first-year classes have expanded significantly, attracting some of the best and brightest! While exciting, it means facing increased competition when you’re joining student organizations and finding your fit. As a senior, I believe you must be involved in the student community to make an impact and feel fulfilled during your college career. Transitioning from high school to college can be confusing, and I want to give some tips on how to initiate this involvement from the very beginning.
There are many ways to get involved in your community. When reflecting on my own journey, I stumbled into the Kelley Student Government at the end of my freshman year. Admittedly, I was incredibly lucky, applying to be Director of Student Life past the deadline with a 10-page resume, unaware of what the Student Government entailed. My friends and mentors who suffered through that resume still make fun of me to this day! Since then, KSG has become a home and a community for me. I share this not to emphasize luck, but to reassure you that feeling like you’re flying blind, especially in your first year, is entirely normal. If you’re interested in an opportunity, do not be afraid to go for it and try again if you fail. There is a learning curve when it comes to college life that we all endured at one point too!
FIND YOUR COMMUNITY
Feel free to explore different opportunities. Attend call-out meetings, open houses, and different events. If you discover that something isn’t the right fit, that’s perfectly acceptable. I, too, joined various clubs, like the Romantic Comedy Society, only to decide they weren’t for me. It’s part of the process. When evaluating an organization, I encourage you to consider what it is you’re looking to get out of the experience and what practices must be in place to help you achieve that goal. For me, I wanted to truly connect with fellow organization members to cultivate a sense of community. In an organization, that meant I wanted something with structure and regularity of meetings because it meant more time to connect with other members.
Networking events, though initially overwhelming, present incredible learning opportunities. Whether or not you join an organization, these events provide insight into their culture and priorities and a chance to connect with and learn from potential mentors and like-minded peers. Take advantage of these opportunities by coming prepared with questions. What information is potentially relevant to your experience that you don’t have? On the back end, organization members are incredibly excited to meet you and share their experiences and communities! Many organizations also host events – such as corporate speaker panels or student workshops – that are open to any students, which is a great way to learn and meet new people!
Forming connections with individuals who share your passions, even outside formal organizations, is rewarding. Kelley boasts a variety of student organizations, each with their own unique value and different membership requirements. With a range of topics, you can narrow your focus to something like Restructuring and Distressed Investing Club or broaden your exposure by joining an organization like Real Estate Club! Remember, there is no “right way” to do your experience. An organization that might be the perfect fit for you may not work for your roommate or friend. For example, while my sister and I are both passionate about Kelley Student Government (shoutout Julia Heath). she is a member of the business fraternity, Phi Chi Theta. She loves it! The professional development and camaraderie were exactly what she was looking for. I did not join a business fraternity, but am a member of a social sorority, Alpha Gamma Delta, and I couldn’t be happier with that decision!
CHOOSE TO LIVE IN THE MOMENT
Kelley provides support to students who want direction when kicking off their Kelley careers. As a former Camp Kelley Coordinator, I can attest to its value. With locations in Bloomington and Lake Tippecanoe (a lake a few hours away from Bloomington), Camp Kelley is an incredible opportunity for direct admit first-year students. Students network with current Kelley students and learn how to get involved before the school year starts. Plus, it’s a lot of fun! For additional guidance, the Kelley Student Life offices provide coaching to help you understand what is available to you. They will help connect you with leaders within student organizations that align with your interests. Seeking advice from someone directly involved with student organizations can provide valuable insights into their culture and help you find your niche.
While overwhelming in the moment, I hope you take a moment to enjoy all the excitement that comes with the opportunities available to you at Kelley. As a senior, I look back on those moments of exploration with fondness. I hope these insights assist you in navigating your own journey!
Bio: Madeline Heath is senior year at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business where she is majoring in Marketing and International Business and minoring in Studio Art. Maddie is passionate about the Kelley community and has devoted much of her time to Kelley Student Government where she has served as Director of Student Life and First Year Engagement Lead. She currently serves as President of the Kelley Women’s Council. A creative at heart, Maddie believes in the power of an imaginative approach and is excited to share favorite experiences and insights about Kelley with you!
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