Every year the same advice is given to students heading to university, whether it’s their first or final year. You’ve probably heard it, or maybe even said it to someone: “You should get involved on campus!”
While inherently good advice, this phrase and its many variants is is useless. For one, it doesn’t leave the listener with any desire to follow it, nor does it tell them anything about what getting involved means or why it’s important. To clear this up, I have constructed a handy-dandy guide to getting involved on campus, and why it really is a good idea.
“But wait,” you say, “what exactly does it mean to get involved on campus?” I’m glad you asked. As cliché as it sounds, it can mean almost anything – whatever you want it to mean.
Being involved means participating in groups, activities, or organizations which extend your experience on campus beyond the classroom. This could include researching with a professor, participating in athletics, or attending events on campus like guest lectures and movie nights.
From student groups to volunteering, politics to service-learning and the myriad of programs and job opportunities available, our campus provides hundreds of opportunities to go beyond the classroom to create a unique experience that interests you.
Now for the important part: why?
Aside from the obvious entertainment value offered by interest-based student groups and activities, being involved on campus can have some great career benefits.
Certain opportunities are eligible to be tracked on your co-curricular record – provided by Student Life – meaning that future employers or graduate schools can see that you stepped above and beyond to contribute to your campus community. They can also provide valuable life and career experience, whether it’s the ability to organize events, showcase your creative or professional abilities, or uncover hidden skills.
Additionally, becoming involved in student groups and volunteering can help you to network and find valuable contacts, references, and friends. It can even extend beyond that – depending on how you choose to be involved, you can get personal satisfaction in knowing that you have helped others, or taken advantage of some of the various off-the-beaten-path opportunities that not many people know about.
Now that you can see why getting involved can help you, it’s time for you to know how you can enter the world of campus involvement.
If you like to run things and be a strong voice for others, you can reach out to the University of Manitoba Students’ Union, or find out more about your department or faculty student councils and associations. These groups serve to advocate for students and organize events and activities for everyone. There are elections every year, so you can have a chance to put forth your ideas and work with other people to influence the student experience for others.
If you want to connect with people who have similar interests to you, there is a plethora of special-interest student groups on campus run by people just like you. Whether you’re interested in activism, arts, athletics, culture, environment, politics, hobbies, religion, or anything else, there is more than likely a student group to suit your needs. If not, you can always found a new one.
If you want to become involved in, or learn more about, social change, Student Life provides many services and opportunities that often go unnoticed. If you’re interested in travel and learning about other cultures, they offer service-learning opportunities abroad in places such as Ecuador and Tanzania, as well as within the province and Winnipeg. Student Life also offers several leadership and volunteer programs, and organizes orientation at the beginning of each academic year.
Hopefully you have more of a sense of what’s available on campus, and how you can make the most of your few years here. The possibilities are endless: you can do as much or as little as you like, just make it memorable.
For a full list of official student groups, organizations, associations, and additional ways to get involved, visit: https://communitylink.umanitoba.ca/organizations