| “Fun”damentals of Success
Besides the obvious benefits of fun and friendship, students who are actively involved in clubs gain a “social education” that helps round out their resume, McLean says.
“Lots of colleges view their student life activities as extracurricular programs they have the stance that you come to college to go to class, study, learn, and get an education and then you join a club for stress relief, to have a good time, and to get out of residence halls and interact with other people on campus,” she says. “We like to view our programs as co-curricular programs they do all the things that extracurricular programs do, but they also provide you with real-world experiences and interpersonal skills that supplement what students are learning from textbooks.”
President of the Black Students Alliance (BSA) Travis Carless ’07 agrees, and says his leadership skills are one of the most important things he’ll take with him as he graduates this May.
“Being president of the Black Students Alliance will help me many different ways in the professional world. I’ve learned firsthand how to successfully motivate my executive board and the BSA membership, which has helped me lead the group in exciting new directions,” says Carless. “I’ve also learned how to delegate tasks and effectively communicate with others. Many of the skills I’ve developed are a direct result of my involvement with BSA, and this experience is something that would be impossible to teach in a classroom.”
Matt Weed ’07, president of the Phalanx Honor Society, resident director, past chair of GM Week, and member of the tennis and fencing clubs, the orchestra, and Circle-K, easily draws connections between the experiences he’s had managing and participating in clubs and the experience he’ll need to succeed in the professional world.
“There are a lot of analogous points between the campus student activities environment and the business environment, and like the ‘real world,’ Rensselaer gives us a solid freedom to follow our ideas from start to finish,” he says. “Now [when I go on a job interview] I can say I have had real project management experience as a resident director. I can say that I have successfully managed a $35,000 budget as the GM Week committee chairman. And I can say that I have a personal and professional network that spans many industries and disciplines.”
Hartt says that clubs also give students valuable leadership experience, especially when dealing with unforeseen challenges. For example, the Rensselaer Union’s staff recently worked with a member of the Ballroom Dance Club who had to make the decision of whether or not to cancel a major weekend competition, in which other schools were scheduled to travel to the Rensselaer campus, due to forecasted inclement weather. She decided to cancel the competition which turned out to be the right choice, given the two feet of snow that paralyzed the Capital Region over two days.