Students who graduate from college with leadership experience often feel more prepared to enter the workforce. And reaching beyond feelings, those students truly are more prepared to enter the workforce. They are able to hit the ground running in their first professional position. They may also be promoted sooner and given more responsibilities within the company. If you’re a motivated student, this should have you thinking: how do I make leadership a part of my college experience?
The ability to lead others is a skill that takes time to develop, so it is wise to start seeking leadership experiences early in your college career. This gives you plenty of time to identify the leadership skills you struggle with the most, and then work towards improving them.
Here are a few key ways to find leadership opportunities and get involved as a college student.
Become a Resident Advisor (RA)
If you live in the dorms at your college, consider becoming a resident advisor, or RA. Resident advisors are usually older students who oversee younger students, help them adapt to life in college, and organize activities for those students. Being an RA will give you plenty of opportunities to practice communicating with and leading your peers. You’ll get to work with students in a wide range of degree programs and from a wide variety of backgrounds. This should help you develop empathy as a leader, and it will teach you to take different needs into account as you lead. As a bonus, RAs are usually compensated for their work with free or discounted room and board.
Pursue Student Leadership
Many departments have a variety of student leadership positions. Approach your professors or department leaders, and ask about these opportunities. There may, for example, be an opportunity for you to sit on the department’s board as a student representative. There may even be a student government within the department; you could run for President or Treasurer. These leadership positions give you the opportunity to work with both faculty and other students, which can give you a lot of insight into your best skills and those you still need to develop.
Join an Honors Society
Joining an Honors Society like NSCS is another great way to gain leadership experience. Leadership is one of our Three Pillars at NSCS. Each chapter elects its own leaders, so you could become your chapter’s President or Vice President. This would mean working not only with other students in your chapter, but also higher-level employees and leaders on the national level.
NSCS also helps students find leadership opportunities in their local communities. For example, some of our chapters collaborate with organizations like the YMCA. You could help coordinate a community event, run a program for middle school students, or even directly mentor a younger student.
Finally, NSCS offers the National Leadership Council. This student advisory board gives student members a chance to weigh in on issues that affect the society as a whole. NSCS selects students to join the council based on their academic performance and community involvement. If you’re dedicated to developing yourself as a leader, this is a very transformative opportunity to pursue.
If you focus on developing leadership skills while in college, you will be “ahead of the curve” when you graduate. Take the time to learn more about the leadership opportunities above, and engage with the ones that appeal to you the most. If you’re interested in joining NSCS, we’d love to have you. We’re a society of dedicated, persistent students like you, and we will always support you in pursuing Scholarship, Leadership, and Service.