As one of the social responsibility scholars at the Alliance Manchester Business School, I knew when I entered my first year of studies that I would really want to get involved in student life and participate in different initiatives. For years, I had leadership roles in organisations and societies, and right now, I am one of the co-heads of a brand new student group. I also volunteered abroad (in a Favela in Brazil) and won an award at the University of Manchester Volunteer of the year awards.
That being said, here are my main takeaways why you should get involved and how these kinds of activities might help you build a future (professionally and personally).
You can exit your comfort zone.
Volunteering in NGOs or organising events for a society put you in a situation where you need to do things you have never tried before. Called calling people? Inviting them for interviews? Trying to convince them to support your societies? These actions help you push your limits even further, and you can grow a lot.
You meet new exciting people.
All my best friends were met through volunteering activities. It is great to get to work with motivated people, that have the same vision for their future and want to develop themselves personally and professionally.
You have a lot to talk about in interviews.
We all might have had the fundamental interview question in which somebody asks you to tell them about a situation in which you went above and beyond to meet the customer expectations, or you worked in a team really well. Volunteering and societies might help you nail these questions and have a lot of valuable, interesting answers. The self-awareness you gain regarding your own person is one of the most significant gains out of running for a position of responsibility, helping you even further in your job hunt.
You can actually learn what you like the most.
Societies are your playing ground - you can try different tasks and see whether or not some activities maximise your strengths and minimise your weaknesses. Are you interested in PR or graphic design? Do you want to know whether or not project management is for you? Student organisations are places where you can fail fast and start over, in a safe environment, without a lot of repercussions.
Finally ... network, network, network.
There is not a secret that you meet different mentors through volunteering activities and societies. These encounters might make you recharge your batteries, see that your dreams are legit and reachable, and people who were in your shoes managed to achieve what they wanted in life. Want some pieces of advice regarding the next steps? Want to learn more about a profession? If you build your networks really well, you have people who might answer these questions.
As my university experience is approaching an end, I am grateful for every single opportunity that I choose to embrace and for the people that I have met along the way. If you are a younger student and managed to stumble across my blog - please make sure you keep yourself active and engaged in your student life! That will help you grow exponentially and find your true meaning in life.