During my first semester last year, I quickly found out that an MBA is more than just classes, homework, recruiting (and socialising!); it is also about taking on leadership roles in student-led clubs and actively contributing to the MBA community. While this might not be everyone’s cup of tea, it is highly encouraged by schools and generally sought after by potential employers.
Prior to the first week of classes in the fall, we have a “club fair” during which each student-led association promotes and recruits new members. Students wander from booth to booth learning about everything from the Graduate Finance Association to the Adventure Club (hiking and rock climbing) to the Luxury and Retail Club, and generally end up putting their name down on more email lists than they remember. The important part, however, boils down to how you choose to involve yourself in the clubs that matter most to you.
As the current co-president of the European Business Society, perhaps I am a bit biased, however I strongly believe that being a club officer is an important component of the MBA experience (and offers an even greater challenge in perfecting time management!). Additionally, taking on leadership roles or being part of club committees are excellent ways to:
- network with students, alumni, school administrators, recruiters and corporate donors. Depending on your specific responsibilities, you will have access to a variety of contacts that will not only help with your club’s efforts, but will also allow you to build relationships with a network that you will keep long after completing your MBA;
- demonstrate and build upon leadership skills that will undoubtedly be tested in your professional life. Student-led associations provide experiences, challenges and rewards that are comparable to what you might encounter in professional settings – and improving those skills can only help you in the future;
- contribute to your school’s resources by enhancing and broadening the reach of subject areas (whether they be professional or lifestyle) that matter most to you. Student participation is an important component to the strength of MBA programmes and the value and resources that student-led clubs deliver (career resources, access to business leaders and networking) are significant to students, alumni and the school’s reputation.
For the most part, it is not advised to take on more than one leadership position – and, from experience, I can attest that two is almost too much! Last year, as an officer for both the Social Enterprise Association and the European Business Society, I was kept very busy – however I was (and still am) passionate about both associations therefore my efforts were meaningful and my impact was significant.
Furthermore, it was rewarding to contribute to areas that distinguish Stern among other MBA programmes. The social enterprise movement, for example, is an increasingly critical component of today’s economy, and an area in which MBAs can leverage their interests and skills to make a difference. At Stern, the Social Enterprise Association provides students unparalleled access to thought leaders like Peter Goldmark from the Environmental Defense Fund and to progressive organisations like the Acumen Fund, as well as guidance on how to make a social impact in their professional lives.
Similarly, the European Business Society, like all international associations, is another important source of differentiation for Stern. Whether it be through bridging globally-minded students and alumni, or assisting students in their job recruitment in the US and Europe, or in highlighting and appreciating the school’s international diversity, the European Business Society is committed to strengthening the school’s global reach and reputation.
These student-led associations, however are not just about taking on additional responsibilities to your already full plate, or about adding more appointments and group meetings to your jam-packed calendar. They are also about spicing up your social life – like the party that the Stern European Business Society is hosting this Thursday…hope to see you there!