The biggest piece of advice that people tell you when you get to college is “get involved.” Anyone can tell you to get involved, but the real questions are ‘why?’ and ‘how?’ When you go out to get a job, any job at all, they will look at your education and what your skills are, but one question every company wants to know is “What did you do outside of class/school?” If you have nothing to demonstrate, you are less likely to get hired. Reason being is that there may be hundreds of people applying for that same position. Some will have more qualifications then the next person, but those qualifications will set them apart from you. “What makes you unique?” Getting involved and being able to say that you worked on ‘this’ and did ‘that’ sets you apart from everyone else.
How do you get involved? Here at Embry-Riddle, we have more than 130 clubs and organizations that will help you do just that. Even professors and students can help you get involved in research and final senior design projects. It sounds that simple and it is that simple. The only thing standing in your way is you. If you say every day that you want to get involved and you are going to get involved, but then you don’t, you are the one not letting yourself get involved. ERAU just had its Student Activities Fair where all the clubs and organizations lined up all the way from the library and down Legacy walk to show what they were all about. Students were able to learn about the club/organization and join if they pleased.
As a freshman coming in the Summer A term, I was already involved on the NASA NEEMO project and the MEERS project before I became an official ‘student’; but there was more I wanted to get involved in. Talking to some of the professors and graduate students on both the HF and ME side, I found out about some interesting research projects. Just by putting myself out there and showing that I am interested, a hard worker, and willing to work, they welcomed me in with open arms. Now I am in multiple clubs, organizations, and research projects…Human Factors & Ergonomics Society, Human Performance in Extreme Environments, Society 4 S.P.A.C.E, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and more!
Getting involved is great! You get to learn and experience new things as well as meet new people. It is great to put your involvement on your resume. However, a couple mistakes that people are likely to make are getting too involved, and getting involved just to get involved. Although college is known to be the best time of your life, you still have to focus in academics. Getting involved too much can cause you to pay less attention to academics and put them on the back burner. Academics come first. Also, when you get involved in something, make sure that you want to get involved. Don’t just get involved because you think it will look good on your résumé, get involved because you are truly passionate about it. There are plenty of things to get involved with on campus.
People ask me all the time, “how do you do it?” “How do you balance, academics, involvement, and socialization?” Honestly, academics come first. Whenever I get a homework assignment, I don’t procrastinate; I get it done. Every day I lay out what I need to do. Homework and studying comes first. Then I move on the clubs and organizations and then finally everything involving “Astro Skye.” It is all about balance. Some people have a higher tolerance than others, it depends on the person. So whether you are at ERAU now, or are a future student, get involved!