There are so many ways to contribute to society and you may be very passionate about being a community leader. As a student, it can become quite a balancing act…but it is possible to find your balance by keeping a strategic, well thought out schedule. You may even find that you can utilize ideas from your courses out in the community as well as use your community experience in the classroom.
What is a community leader? It is important to understand what exemplifies a community leadership role to be able to set expectations of yourself. In order to be a community leader, you don’t have to have a title or run for office. Instead, you have to decide what part of the community you are interested in taking responsibility for and starting something to better that portion of the community. That portion can be a group of people, such as children with disabilities or even a landmark that you feel passionate about preserving. There are so many facets of community, it’s up to you where to decide to take part.
What makes me a leader? As a student, you have a wide scope of individuals to enlist to help your cause. Becoming a great leader means to take it upon yourself to lead or start a club that supports your cause and to get others involved in really creating an organization that can do more than just one person. That is how you become a leader!
How should I base my classes around my service to the community? If you form the club that will be in charge of designating times and places to meet, you can work with others in the club to find the best ways to balance your community work with your course work. Everyone in the club will face the same juggling act that you do. The difference is that you can set meeting times in the beginning as soon as you form the group to best suit your schedule. Then, as you advertise the club, other students can make sure that the designated time fits their schedule as well.
What if it is still a struggle to fit everything in? You can’t always have the schedule you need, so you may have to work some things around the schedule to be able to fit in your community leadership. There is nothing wrong with delegating. If you just can’t make it to an event that you have planned, then make sure that you have enlisted trustworthy people into your club that you can count on to get the task done. Sometimes, leadership means planning the projects, even if you may not be the person completing the project.
How can I use my community experience in my classes? You often have the freedom to choose what you want to base your course projects around, so why not be inspired by your work in the community to make a real difference? Often times, professors want to see what inspires you — and your best work comes through when you use your passions as the subject of a project. Community service also helps you become more well-rounded, which MBA admissions look for if you choose to continue your education past the undergraduate level. And, if you’re already a business student, getting involved in the community helps you apply your skills to do career exploration — so you don’t end up in a job that sounds good on paper, but isn’t in practice.
Your courses will fuel your ideas for helping in the community. You can even make that an exercise at each meeting by having the club members bring ideas to each meeting that they may have learned in the classroom. You may be taking economics classes that will help you figure out how to do a cost analysis of what it will take.
Community service often counts for credit if you are an undergraduate. There is a good chance that you will take some courses that are going to focus on doing something in the community, and you can see if your professors are open to working on your project as part of the classroom service activity. You should develop a Service Project Proposal to outline what you would like to do and ask for feedback from the professor and students so you can make sure everyone will be onboard.
When it all seems overwhelming, just remember to always keep an eye toward your future employment and life goals. Community service gives you real world reference to those classroom skills. It’s also a way of showing whether or not you’ve created impact, which not only separates you from your competition when your finally out of college, but also makes a difference in the world through your work, both paid and unpaid.
Sometimes it will be a juggling act, but it is better to look at it as a balance of life and work. Are you ready to start your balancing act?