Quad Day and YOU

Bradley Leeb/The News-Gazette Students and organizations fill the Quad during Quad Day on the University of Illinois campus. Sunday, August 25, 2013.

Sunday will be Quad Day, when the English Building gazes out serenely over a bustling quad packed from walkway to walkway with student organizations vying for your attention and membership. Go: it’s a good thing. Enjoy the swag, the mingling, the spectacle.

And keep in mind the big picture. Everything you do in college on top of your courses offers you data points about what you’re good at, what you enjoy, what you value. Don’t think of it as resume-building. No one will care particularly that you attended meetings for six different RSO’s and were the treasurer for one of them. They WILL care about the skills you develop and the stories you can tell in your interview. Did you manage a budget? Raise funds? Recruit new members? Create something that didn’t exist before? Solve a problem that had bedeviled the previous leadership? Get people to do something? How? What did you screw up? What did you get right? What did you learn about workign with other people?

The way to have good answers to those kinds of questions is to do stuff that matters to you. To that end, it helps to approach Quad Day with a strategy. Find an organization in each of these four categories

  • something you’ve done before and loved
  • something that’s completely new to you but sounds fun
  • something that will help to advance your career goals (whatever they might be at this point)
  • something that will help you make changes or solve problems that matter to you.

It’s fine if one organization fulfills two or more of those categories. Then go to some meetings. See where you feel like you can make a contribution. Make note of what attracts you or repels you. It’s good to push yourself beyond what’s comfortable, but there’s no point in doing things that make you actively unhappy. Then, as you learn more, decide where to commit your energy and time.

Recognize the value of what you’re doing! The more you can learn while you’re in college about your strengths, the more opportunities you can find to make things happen, the better off you will be in making the transition from college to whatever comes next.

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