I was president of Amicus Curiae Pre-Law Society. My time in that position is a long blog post in itself, which I promise to write about. But for now, I’m going to give the positives and negatives of a student organization position. All ambitious freshmen, curious sophomores, and determined juniors can use this blog post as the fork in the road to gauge their interest in investing, or saving, their time.
Positives Of Student Organizations
Leadership in any fashion is desirable for employers and grad schools. As a member of an executive team, you will certainly grow in your ability to manage other people and make decisions for the betterment of the organization.
There will always be tough choices in life. But, if you have experience analyzing and making them, then you will have prepared for future decision-making success.
Certainly the way you communicate has a huge effect on your interaction with exec members and general body members. One of my first lessons as president was that group texts and emails are often misunderstood.
So, you can learn the importance of carefully crafted digital messages, or make it easy and just meet in person. Facial expressions and body language play a larger role in communication than words. For starters, smile more and also don’t cross your arms to show disagreement.
3) Real world experience
Being able to effectively cooperate even during conflict is vital in executive teams. The same is true in work environments with boss vs. employee, employee vs. employee, company vs. competitors, etc. So, a powerful skill to learn is conflict management and cooperation.
As a leader in a club, you will most likely interact with successful people to plan programming, bring in speakers, or go on visits. If you can talk and carry yourself in a professional manner, you will develop access to contact them in the future.
And, for that reason, it makes all the more sense for your student organization to align with your future career.
5) Shows grad schools/employers you can manage time
Schools don’t want to accept and employers don’t want to hire, applicants who are one-dimensional.
Negatives Of Student Organizations
It wouldn’t be fair to only give the bright side of student organizations and leave you guessing about the negatives. It’s important to look at the flip side of the coin.
Stress is inevitable as a leader. As president, I remember getting emails every week that asked how to join my organization, what time a meeting took place, and petty questions. The emails came at all hours of the day.
But, the most stressful thing is when exec members don’t do their job and don’t tell anyone about it!
2) Personal expenses
From my experience, this seemed to be a pain for previous exec members and my exec team. One time, I paid around $80 for various expenses for the students on a law school trip. I expected to get fully reimbursed because the expenses weren’t personal.
The treasurer submitted the reimbursement request. When I picked up the check, it was only for $9 (I still don’t know why). If you’re on exec, don’t be surprised if you have to personally pay for your organization’s food, gas, and other items.
3) Working with people you don’t enjoy
It’s very rare that you will work with only people who you enjoy. Because some personalities just naturally clash, you have to learn how to put that aside and work together, which can be hard since it’s not completely in your control.
4) Difficult advisor
All student groups require a university employee as an advisor. A difficult advisor has the power to decline funding requests, programming, and decisions.
Make A Decision
Please don’t run for a position to boost your resume. It never works out if that’s the main motivation. It can be a side benefit, but it shouldn’t be the primary purpose. Otherwise, you will be miserable during your time and will struggle to detail positive experiences in an interview.
After reviewing the positives and negatives, if you still are interested, then I encourage you to run for a position. It can be an incredibly rewarding time that teaches relevant life lessons.