As a part time student, full time professional, blogger, daughter, shopper among other responsibilities, I used to live by the “I- don’t- have- time- for- that” creed when it came to campus activities and events. I felt as though, I’d been a full time student throughout my undergraduate years and for my first Masters degree so I’d been there and done that when it came to committees and student organizations. I’ve recently come to realiz that form of student life is largely unfulfilling. Your education is much more than what goes on in the classroom. Actually, you often can learn just as much (if not more) from your peers and professors when you interact in social and other non academic settings.
In November, of last year I was privileged to start a job that allowed me to spend a lot more time in the campus area. Since then I’ve been able to hang out with my classmates, meet with my advisors, attend lectures/seminars and just have more of a presence in my department. Knowing your colleagues/professors on a more personal level is helpful as it gives you a context for many of your academic interactions. Hearing my advisors stories and the passion the have for their work motivates me more than any good grade ever could. Because we’re so close, I like to feel like my main advisor has starting giving me better feedback and really shown a vested interest in my success. It makes going to class a lot more enjoyable than it used to be. It comes in handy when funding opportunities, conferences and other perks come across her desk. She remembers the kid and always looks out.
I’ve also found my interaction with underclassmen and younger graduate students very rewarding. I’ve participated in a few panel discussions and workshops on graduate school adjustment, job interviewing and the job search process. It really felt good to be approached on campus by someone who was there and just wanted to say thanks. Additionally, the networking has definitely come in handy. I have contacts in various administrative departments on campus because of my rapport with student workers. These relationships have really been clutch when handling my own campus business.
I encourage all students to get involved and really engage with the academic community. I’ve shared just a few of the in and out of classroom benefits here but there are many more. A little hob knobbing, and rapport building can really take you far and sometimes for half the price. Don’t sleep on those emails you get from the department, student activities, etc. Show up and get involved and let me know how it went.
Has anyone else benefitted from getting involved in your department. Leave a comment and share your experiences.