Graduate students are busy. Between classes, work, homework, family, and other commitments, there can be a lot to balance.
So why would we suggest you add another thing to that list by joining a student organization? Because it can impact your career and student experience in a hugely positive way. We spoke with Michael Corbett, Bentley’s associate director of Graduate Student and Academic Services, about why he believes student organizations are worthwhile, and he gave us a significant list of benefits.
Take a look at these 12 reasons why you should join a student organization while getting your graduate degree.
Benefits Of A Student Organization
1. You’ll learn more about yourself.
Joining a student organization presents many opportunities to learn more about yourself, your goals, and your strengths. You can learn from how other students handle certain situations and test your current knowledge. You can also find out what you’re good at, whether that’s multitasking, staying organized, generating ideas, or serving others. This self-awareness will be beneficial in your future career.
2. You’ll develop soft skills.
Soft skills are essentially “people skills” — they’re the skills that allow us to effectively interact with others, like communication, attitude, and work ethic. Participating in a student organization not only teaches you these skills, but also helps you broaden and improve those you already have. You’ll learn the best way to communicate with both individuals and large groups, and you’ll gain emotional intelligence as you develop new relationships.
3. You’ll learn how to work with a team.
Knowing how to work well with a team is an essential skill for any career. Being in a student organization teaches you how to do this by putting you in situations where you are required to take advice from others, as well as give your own.
Joining a student organization helps to build your network & can provide valuable skills #prepareduTWEET THIS
4. You’ll get networking opportunities.
Another great benefit of student organizations (and graduate programs as a whole) is that you get the opportunity to network. Meeting new students, making connections, and building relationships will all help down the line when you’re looking for a job. Because you’re all part of the same organization, you know the people you’re meeting have at least a few of the same interests as you, so their connections will be valuable. Corbett said:
“Many of our organizations are professionally-focused and host several events with alumni or panel discussions with local professionals. These events are excellent opportunities for the student leaders, and can often lead to potential internship or employment opportunities in the future!”
5. You’ll gain practical experience in a safe environment.
Participating in a club or an organization based around your particular area of study will give you practical experience within that field. And what’s great about student clubs is that while you learn to use skills like project management, event planning, and fundraising, you get to test them out in a safe environment where making mistakes is OK. Everyone is there to support you, so there’s no fear in messing up or being wrong.
6. You’ll be able to use the skills you’ve learned in class.
“As business students, you are able to apply classroom experience in your student organizations, and also develop leadership and life skills that help you become more effective in classroom team projects.”
Corbett also mentioned that being part of an organization allows you to put all of those things you’ve been learning in class to the test in real-world situations. You’ll get to learn what works and what doesn’t, and you’ll be able to take that knowledge back to the classroom, and then, of course, along with you in a future career.
7. You’ll learn how to engage with diverse groups of people.
Chances are, the organization you choose to participate in will include a diverse group of people — you’ll be faced with the same situation in the working world! Learning how different people respond and react to certain situations will help you develop your skills in presenting and implementing ideas. Corbett said student organizations can also provide you with the opportunity to learn about different cultural backgrounds:
“The Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) is the largest graduate student organization, and provides events and opportunities for students to celebrate (and learn) about culture and diversity. The graduate school is incredibly diverse, and it is great to see students interact across cultures to become more effective leaders!”
8. You’ll gain leadership skills.
Becoming a leader or an officer in an organization will help you develop leadership skills that will be invaluable in all areas of life. You’ll be presented with opportunities to improve in public speaking, and gain confidence in yourself as an individual. Corbett said this is one of the two greatest benefits student organizations offer:
“While there are many positive reasons for taking on a leadership position in a student organization, I believe the two greatest benefits are developing leadership skills and expanding your network. Holding a position in a student organization requires you to work with a team, effectively problem-solve, plan events, and also interact with faculty, staff, and alumni.”
Shawn Lazarus, president of the Graduate Student Association and a current student, agrees:
“Being in a leadership position has taught me a lot of patience, has improved the way I manage my time, and has given me the opportunity to connect with fun, talented and creative individuals.”
9. You’ll get a break from your studies.
Concentrating on schoolwork is obviously important during a graduate program, but giving your mind a break is necessary (and beneficial). While taking part in club activities, you’ll be able to socialize with like-minded individuals and actually learn as much from them as you would your schoolwork.
10. You’ll expand your resume.
There’s no arguing that organizations and activities look good on a résumé. Showing employers that you participated in, or (better yet) lead, a student organization, they’ll know that you’re hard working and can handle multiple responsibilities.
11. You’ll be able to give back to the community.
Many student organizations provide opportunities to give back to the community, whether through acts of service, sponsoring events, or hosting charity drives. Not only is this good for society, but it will teach you how a future business can give back, too. Lazarus says giving back to the community is the most rewarding part of being involved:
“The most rewarding aspect of being involved in a student organization is that you get to give back to the student community through fun events, giving them networking opportunities and offering them a chance to have fun with their peers. This adds an immense value to the learning experience.”
12. You’ll have fun!
Another simple reason to join a student organization is to have fun. Meeting new people, making new friends, and participating in activities will help you make the most of your graduate school experience.
Join A Student Organization
“Being an involved graduate student is a sacrifice, as all Bentley students have a rigorous academic schedule, and many have full- or part-time work and personal lives to balance,” Corbett said. “Students continue to get involved on campus because they see that the sacrifice of their time is worth the benefits they receive — the friendships, the level of involvement across campus, the expansion of their professional network, and the amount of fun they can have as a team.”
Student organizations have a lot to offer. Whether you join as a member or choose to lead one, simply taking part in an extracurricular group will enhance your school experience. Gaining skills, making connections, and broadening your knowledge through a student organization will help you become a more well-rounded individual — one that’s ready to take on their future career!
Visit the Student Organizations section of the Graduate School’s website to learn more about what you can get involved in at Bentley.