The choices you make in how you spend your time will shape how your college experience turns out. So join something! Whether it be a club, an organization, Greek Life, or a sports team, it will give you the opportunity to meet new people, make friends, and most importantly, have fun. I myself joined the Rugby football club at Clemson University, and it was the best decision I have made at school. I now have thirty guys to hang out with, something to do during the immense amount of down time I have, and the experience of something new is always exciting.

There is always something to do no matter what you like to do. There are countless activities for you to join or participate in, and most schools offer a way to find them. At Clemson, it looks like this:

The number of activities can be overwhelming, but don’t let that hold you back. You can always switch or drop something if you find that you do not like the activity, if it does not fit your schedule, or if it is simply not what you wanted. If you like multiple activities try a test run of them. The worst thing that can happen is it does not work out, and you move on.  If you are interested in something and there is no club for it, you can make up your own. That’s how the High-Five club at Clemson got started.

So make good use of groups as a source of fun, but keep in mind that your academics are just as, if not more, important. Keep in mind that there are certain things to beware of when joining a club:

  • You are at school to get a degree. It does not matter if you have the most fun you have ever had in your life if you cannot get through college. If you want to see your parents really yell at you, try wasting forty grand a year.
  • Do not spread yourself too thin when it comes to being in clubs or organizations. The more deeply involved you get, the better your experience can be.  But if you are too busy to give a hundred percent to what you are doing, then it can quickly become more work than fun.
  • Although one goal of joining a club or organization is to make friends, do not isolate yourself from everyone else. I had a roommate who became a complete jerk after he joined his frat.  “Have diversity of friends” may sound stupid, but it allows for more fun (options rule).

“To the east side?” you ask.  No, through the corporate ranks.  The Gabriel Institute’s very own Paul Sevcik was recently asked to write about his transition from intern to Client Services Manager for the Eye of the Intern blog, and here’s what he had to say:

Making the move from intern to full-time employee

I was in the last semester of my MBA program and all indicators were bad.  The job market was down and paid positions were scarce as recently laid-off seasoned professionals joined the merry-go-round looking for work. At a networking event, I learned about an unadvertised internship at a company located in the same building where I took to my graduate courses. I chatted up the CEO of the company and was invited to apply for the internship.

This particular company had a unique way for potential interns to start the application process.  Submit a resume?  “No, thank you,” they said.  Call some references?  “Nope, we don’t do that,” they said, “just go to our website.”  Oh boy.  I had heard that story a thousand times!

Although skeptical, I went to their website and applied by taking their Role-Based Assessment, which actually turned out to be fun. When I clicked submit, I received the typical: “We’ll be in touch.”  I followed up by sending an email to the CEO of the company.  The next day, I received an invitation to interview with them.

The interview was like any other with typical questions about my skills and experience, but a new dimension was added when they actually gave me my assessment results. This was a surprise because I had received my results at an interview before. I read over the report and thought, “Wow, this company really gets me!  Before they even brought me in today, they knew how I could contribute to their team.  Wait a minute–they brought me in because they already know I will be a positive contributor to their company!”  The interview discussion was very productive and within a week, I was working at The Gabriel Institute doing work that I really enjoyed.

I worked at The Gabriel Institute for three months and sampled work in Sales, Human Resources, and Operations.  I had expressed interest in these areas during my interview and my supervisor made sure to balance the type of work I did. In the process, I worked with every person in the organization, which was a small startup company with a heavy entrepreneurial focus.

As my third month came to a close, I received and accepted an offer for full-time work at another company. The experience at the new company, however, was so negatively different from the supportive and productive environment at The Gabriel Institute that I terminated employment at the new company on my 90th day.

So there I was without a job or internship and no sign of the economy improving anytime soon.  What was I going to do?

I asked the CEO of The Gabriel Institute, the company where I had done my internship, out to breakfast and the next morning we sat down to talk about my future with the company. My internship was reignited with a bend toward temp-to-hire work. Three months later, I transitioned from a temp to a full-time employee and now, I’m the Client Services Manager.  Part of my job is to oversee the internship program. Today, the program is formalized and the positions are advertised at local universities, several online internship sites, and on the company’s website. The process for becoming an intern still starts at the website and we only bring in interns if we know their assessment results fit with our needs. The assessment works like a charm and I am proof it’s possible to go from intern to full-time employee at a small company that’s willing to take the risk during turbulent times.

The original blog posting can be found here.