Marissa Fretes: The benefits of on campus involvement

There are 168 hours in a week. What will you do with them?

For sophomores, the answer is increasingly to spend time at an internship.

Twenty percent more sophomores than freshmen spend time at an internship or job, according to an April Center for Student Engagement survey. And it makes sense. At GW, it is often considered a logical step for upperclassmen to begin pursuing internships. But while D.C. offers students tons of internship opportunities, getting involved in campus organizations at GW is particularly important.

Freshmen: As tempting as it might be to get a jump-start on your career off-campus, stick with your campus student organizations next year – they provide unique opportunities for finding friends, connections and leadership roles that are hard to find elsewhere.

The best way to build a community at GW is to make your own, and to do that you have to get involved in campus organizations. From the first day of Colonial Inauguration, we are told that to feel at home at GW, we must find our niche in a student organization.

If finding a campus community is an extra challenge at GW, students should work hard to find one, instead of exclusively working off campus where they likely won’t gain that same sense of unity with the student body. Campus organizations offer us the ability to make friends who share our interests and passions. We can grow as student leaders and also develop lasting relationships with fellow Colonials.

Although internships and jobs are ways to gain real world experience, we shouldn’t forget the useful experience one can obtain by becoming a leader in a student organization. Student leaders learn important skills by overseeing finances, planning high-profile events, recruiting members and drafting newsletters.

Involvement in student organizations also speaks volumes about a student’s passions and interests, which allows employers to get an idea of the person behind the resume. Whether you’re a member of a political organization, a community service group or even a dance team, being aligned with a student organization is a way for you to define yourself.

Indeed, internships are revered because they provide work experience, reveal an individual’s passion for a field of study and demonstrate experience in a particular area. But student organizations can also provide effective resume-building opportunities and leadership experience with lasting benefits.

Often, it’s the passion behind student organizations, as well as the vast array of them available to the student body, that makes students proud to be Colonials.

Marissa Fretes, a freshman majoring in English, is a Hatchet columnist.

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