SAWANT: When it comes to joining student organizations in college, less is more
Column: Sincerely Rue
Around this time of the spring semester, I always grow more reflective than usual about the events and the trials of the past year and where I am currently compared to where I was when I started my college journey almost three years ago.
Something that held constant for me, amid all the exams, late nights pouring over assignments and nights out with friends, is the amount of time and energy that goes toward the student organizations I am a part of.
This past Thursday, Beta Alpha Psi had its 31st annual induction banquet to induct new members into the society, present scholarships and academic excellence awards and initiate the new executive board for next year. Rutgers Business School professors, guest speakers, student members, inductees and even Dean Lei Lei attended.
An entire year's worth of planning culminated in this one night. As I listened to the speeches, I could not help but contemplate how I joined this organization what feels like forever ago as a clueless first-year sitting in the back of the room at biweekly meetings. Now I stand as an incoming senior, spearheading this event like countless others over the past year with people I have grown to call my dear friends.
A piece of advice people will spin for you like a broken record is to join as many clubs as you can and stick with them to pad your resume and impress a recruiter during a quick 15-minute chat at career fairs or interviews.
A little secret I have learned from my three years here so far? You really only need to stick with one or two (maximum three, if you can find them) organizations that you are genuinely passionate about and truly enjoy working with — those where your involvement is not so much for your resume as it is for exploring a newborn sense of purpose.
During my first year, I joined too many clubs, and trying to put the same amount of effort into all of them proved incredibly mentally taxing. I did not make connections or get anything meaningful out of them because I could not feasibly devote time to all of the organizations outside of designated meetings.
I was floating from meeting to meeting, more for attendance than substance. At the end of my fall semester of sophomore year, I decided to stick with the one or two organizations where I enjoyed the mission and the people the most and simply let go of the others.
This was the best thing I ever did.
One of the most valuable aspects of this decision for me was meeting all of the people I would never have met otherwise. Working with and really getting to know these people, both as students and individuals, has been one of the greatest pleasures of my career at Rutgers.
Working with them for an entire year, sometimes longer, connects you in a different, special way, and it is how I have met many of my close friends today.
But what truly redefined my entire college experience was the sense of purpose these organizations gave me outside of my academics.
My clubs and organizations gave me something to look forward to during the school week, something to work on outside of assignments. It was something to care about that was not my GPA. It introduced balance and passion in a place where only burnt-out stress and monotony lived.
I used to associate school solely with classes, exams and stress, but introducing clubs into my daily academic routine has completely redefined that notion. It is a different type of social experience from interacting with peers in class or going out with your best friends.
It hangs somewhere between the two, not quite exactly like one or the other, simply a unique experience of its own.
I know people may only join clubs to have something to jot down on their resume and talk about for a minute or two at an interview. In my opinion, that is not the right mindset to have.
My advice is to pick organizations where your membership does not feel like a chore but a privilege to be welcomed into the space you choose. At the end of your four years, what impact did you make on this school? It does not matter how big or small.
The best, most enriching way is to find a club with which you blossom. The change-making happens naturally from there.
Rujuta Sawant is a Rutgers Business School junior majoring in business analytics and information technology and minoring in political science. Her column, "Sincerely Rue," runs on alternate Mondays.
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