Taking part in extracurriculars enriched my university experience, and it can do the same for you. Gaining experience in clubs, sports teams, and school-wide events can support your transition into university, expand your social circle, and elevate the level of knowledge and skills you bring to a prospective future employer. Below, I look back at the experiences I gained through extracurricular activities throughout university and how I landed them.
When I started at Wilfrid Laurier University, I wanted to join a few clubs to make friends. I did not know anyone from my high school that was going there, and it was my first time living alone, away from my family, and in a new city. I wanted to make the most of my university journey but knew I needed more community to embrace university life fully.
My Experience with the Foot Patrol Club
The first extracurricular I joined was the Foot Patrol Committee - as a general member. I have to admit that this was my favorite one to date, despite being the first one I participated in. The Foot Patrol committee ran during the night. If students wanted to be accompanied on a walk back to their intended destination, they simply called the Foot Patrol office. From there, volunteers were dispatched to the students’ location to accompany them on their trip to their final destination. This volunteer activity allowed me to develop my interpersonal skills when comforting students by engaging in small talk. It also enhanced my quick-thinking and adaptability because certain situations required 'foot patrollers' to react professionally and with sound judgment. Mostly, I got to achieve my goal of making friends that I met through Foot Patrol team, and in doing so, it slowly broke me out of my shell and made me feel involved and a part of the university community. (Oh yeah, I also got to learn how to use a walkie-talkie and communicate through a two-way radio, which was cool!)
My Experience with U Walk Laurier
I was also a first-year representative for U Walk Laurier - a charity walking club. I was interested in joining the club because I'm motivated to make a difference in my community. Of course, my role as a first-year 'rep' was pretty minimal, as I essentially helped out the other club executives to fulfill their responsibilities. This experience provided insights into event planning and the immense logistics that go into it, such as a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes operations of the club event planning, logistics when it came to booking the room/space for events, spreading awareness about the event/marketing, and financial planning (when it came to monitoring the club’s budget).
As someone unsure what they wanted to do following graduation, it gave me an idea of what work environment I would prefer. I would undoubtedly thrive in a creative, fast-paced environment where I interact with various people daily. This particular club also gave me confidence in my work ethic, and I'm grateful for this. My fondest memory of this club is our “Winter Walk & Watch” event. This fundraising event donated proceeds to the Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre Foundation. While the club set a fundraising goal of $3,500, it was exciting to see when we surpassed it to reach a donation total of $3,800.
My Experience in the Laurier Disney Club
During my second year, my university was operating entirely remotely. Classes happened online, and extracurriculars were no exception. Due to the transition, I did not get as involved as I would like to. The only extracurricular I joined was the Laurier Disney Club as a Marketing Coordinator. I had more structured responsibilities with this role. I designed the club’s content, managed our social media accounts, and facilitated online engagement with students. It was a great experience! While the club’s executive team could not meet in person, we managed to stay in touch through virtual meetings. As for our events, we adapted them to an online format, such as movie nights and even a pot painting class!
I joined this role since I love animation. As I mentioned in my introduction, I want to create an animated show someday. Building off this passion for 'all things animated,' I am fond of many Disney movies such as Tangled, Treasure Planet, and Snow White. The company is quite impressive at what they do- creating content. It's always good to join extracurricular activities, especially for your long-term career path, but in this case the role was particularly suited to my interests, and that was nice.
My Experience with The Cord & Women Leading Politics Association
Now, I am currently in my third year, and I am participating in two extracurriculars. The first one is on The Cord, my university’s long-running student newspaper. It is a valuable news outlet that is by students, for students. I am a volunteer writer and copy editor. Since I am a communications student, I felt joining an initiative like The Cord would allow me to improve my writing and critical thinking capabilities.
As for my other position, I serve as a graphic coordinator for the Women Leading Politics Association. This club focuses on female empowerment within politics, encouraging female students to surpass any obstacles and reach their dreams with the utmost determination. Since my role requires me to design the club’s online content, I look forward to embodying the club’s values and key messages throughout the upcoming year.
Informing the Experiences I Pursue Next
By this point, I had a general idea of what I wanted to do after university. I am currently looking for a job that allows me to produce visual and written content. I also want to work in a position where my work is considered meaningful because it helps break down societal issues. My job interests vary between copywriting, marketing, or public policy. Looking back on the last few years, I found that extracurriculars allowed me to grow into my 'own person' and discover genuine interests/ passions. I am no longer anxious about my future. I attribute this (partially) to the extracurriculars I joined and the chance each experience provided me to develop skills and enhance how I navigate my career path.
What About You?
If anyone is ever interested in extracurriculars, my advice is this:
- Reflect on your current responsibilities and only be sure to join clubs if you know that you have the time and energy for them
- Make sure your focus continues to be on your academic work vs. your extracurriculars - you need balance
- If you decide that you have the time to join extracurriculars, be sure to check on their social media platforms (ex. Instagram, Facebook) and try to find your university’s social media accounts. They most likely promote their internal extracurriculars there and it may give you recommendations on other accounts from affiliated clubs
- Usually, at the start of the year, there is a large club fair held at universities for first-year students to explore but it is open to anyone to check out. Attending it doesn't hurt! :)
- Be optimistic. If you are on the fence about joining a club, you are unsure about, attend the first meeting. There is no forced obligation to join a club and you are still open to dropping out of the club if it’s not appealing to you. (Of course, trying to quit a sports team after passing the tryout stage is completely different.)
- If you have friends who can join with you, ask them to attend too! Joining a club with a group of friends/ acquaintances can support you to stay with it.
Hopefully, you take these tips to heart and...get involved! I appreciated all of my experiences participating in extracurriculars while studying at Wilfrid Laurier University and I know you will too.