It’s Day One of Orientation; you’re nervous, you’re excited, you’re ready to go! But in about six hours, you’ll be clueless and ready to duck your head into a hole.
You’ll start to wonder if you’re here to get your PharmD, or if you’re here to get leadership roles. And who is the culprit behind this state of panic? Well, it’s none other than Student Organizations and Leadership Opportunities.
Now, for all Student Orgs reading this: I’m not here to dissuade students from pursuing leadership endeavors or to bash your missions. Rather, I’m here to enlighten new admits as well as current students about how to navigate this treacherous path (I’m being dramatic, I know).
Since I love lists, and to keep in accordance with popular life advice columns (like Buzzfeed), below you will find my seven tips to surviving Student Organizations and Leadership Opportunities.
- Breathe.Look, you’re going to hear from every single organization in a matter of two hours, and every single one of them will try and convince you to join them, and after two hours you’re going to want to die because you have no idea how you’ll narrow down your interests and join something you like. Take. A. Deep. Breath. None of them will require you to join for at least a couple of weeks. Some take up to a month before dues are due. You won’t have to make a decision for a long time. I repeat. BREATHE.
You’re going to want to go home and lay in bed with all of the fliers and narrow them all down. Wait! Don’t make a decision based on one speaker and one flier. At the end of Orientation, you’re going to attend a picnic where most if not all of the organizations will be there. Which leads me to…
Talk to the organizations. Talk to the people in leadership roles. Talk to general members. Ask them questions. Don’t just sit there and mindlessly nod while they repeat the spiel they gave you the day before and talk about how great they are and how everyone loves it and how there’s so many leadership opportunities and how they’re going to be “real” and “cool” with you to try and win you over and how this organization has helped them meet all of their friends and…the list goes on. All of the above factors are important to consider, but you also need to understand that some of these organizations are looking for your dues. Before you make a decision, send in ten checks, and subsequently end up $500 poorer than you did the day before, you need to…
Figure yourself out. Which of these organizations has a mission that aligns with your interests? Which one of these organizations will push you out of your comfort zone? Where do you actually see yourself pursuing something you enjoy? Where do you see yourself making a difference in the college? Do you want to pursue similar interests or try something brand new? (I recommend a mixture of both).
Go to all of the introductory meetings. Almost every organization will have a meeting within those first couple of weeks that is designed purely for you to attend and see if you want to join. Take that opportunity! Also, they usually have free food, and I don’t know about you, but I’m always game for free food.
- Do. Not. Worry. About. Leadership. Roles. Yet.
Take it from someone who knows. As a P1, there are limited opportunities for you to gain a leadership role, and if you aren’t able to receive them or pursue them, that’s totally okay. There’s time, and new roles pop up every semester. Most organizations don’t appoint new chairs or E-board members until late in the Winter semester, so don’t stress if you don’t have one. I’m betting most of your class won’t either.
- Don’t apply just to apply.
Once again, take it from someone who knows. When I walked into my first interview this Winter semester, after one of my interviewers took a look at my CV, her eyes widened, and she looked up at me and said “I’m looking at your involvement here, and I just have to ask: are you getting any sleep?” I have 4 positions in 4 different pharmacy organizations, two volunteer positions outside of the college, and a job. A tear just fell as I wrote that. Don’t be me. I had this fear that if I didn’t get positions now I wouldn’t get a good internship, and then I wouldn’t get a residency, and then I wouldn’t get the job I wanted, and then— please, don’t go down this route. Don’t let your fears push you into something you don’t want to do.
With all of this in mind, please don’t be scared. I’m actually not that stressed out about all of my commitments, and I promise Student Organizations are not monsters seeking dues. I love every organization and committee I’m a part of. I’ve made some wonderful friends and plan on maintaining these lasting relationships and involvements. You ARE here to get your PharmD, but you’re also here to develop personally and as a leader, and this is the opportunity to do that.