By Peer Career Coach Priscilla Akpabio
I will be discussing my personal journey to my Internship/Co-op and highlighting how being a member of campus organizations and participating in on campus activities helped me develop a meaningful network with professionals and fellow students. Joining these organizations was integral to me finding great opportunities and meeting wonderful alumni who at some point were also members. As a student, I personally struggled with what exactly to say when I met alumni, how to approach them, how to start conversations and how to keep these conversations interesting enough. I found that being a member of organizations that a lot of these alumni were members of automatically gave us common ground. There was already an ice breaker- something we both connected with. Alumni always appreciate the fact that some students dedicate their time to holding leadership roles in these organizations even when academics could be excruciatingly time consuming. In a sense, they are proud that some of us keep their legacies and achievements alive. It helps especially during home-coming events during interaction.
Being a part of these on campus organizations looks great on your resume. It shows potential employers that you have ample time management skills and are able to balance classes with other activities. Holding leadership positions in these organizations is also wonderful, it shows that you are responsible and can be trusted with leadership roles. Not a lot of students take out time to engage on campus. I however am a firm believer that joining on campus organizations helps to maximize your college experience. It provides long term friends and future colleagues, it helps broaden your network with like-minded students outside of the classroom.
Another important way on-campus organizations help is providing resources to attend conferences. Most organizations have a conference every semester. These conferences provide job opportunities in the sense that they host a Career fair. The Career Fair typically, depending on how large the conference is has hundreds of companies. It is set up like any other career fair, you literally walk up to companies, have a conversation and if they like you there is an on-site interview. A lot of students I know personally have gotten internships and full time jobs through career fairs at conferences. I am also one of these students and I got my internship through Society of Women Engineers (SWE) annual conference. Just like any other career fair you have to be well prepared, do your research about companies and make sure you are confident about all the information on your resume.
On-Campus Organizations also help organize workshops, they host companies during their meeting times (typically IIT alumni who were part of these organizations come with other members of their department). These workshops talk about the best way to get internships, what each company is actively searching for and how to navigate through applications. They occasionally host resume workshops and help members prep for career fairs. Some also have Research and exposition conferences where you could go learn and meet engineers who are top of their fields. I met my mentor at through an American Society of Mechanical Engineers Research and Exposition Conference.
I truly recommend being part of at least one of these organizations in your college life, I am currently a member of Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), Society of Women Engineers (SWE), American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).