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Developing Workplace Skills through Student Organizations

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By Hannah Via
Psychology Student and Campus Leader

and Janet Athanasiou
Student and Alumni Affairs Liaison

Engagement in campus activities is an often-studied, often-discussed part of the college student experience. Higher education should be a place where you can pursue an education and find a community of like-minded people who support you as you achieve your degree. Participation in student organization activities is not only useful for creating a supportive network of people, but is also useful for developing valuable workplace skills for life after graduation.

To help foster the sense of community and provide an opportunity for skill development, the University offers over 70 student organizations, clubs, and honor societies. These student organizations vary widely; some may be based on your area of study, while others involve a certain industry field or personal interests.

How Student Organizations Aid Professional Development: One Student’s Experience

Hannah Via, a psychology student at American Public University (APU), is a campus leader and President of the Jewish Student Association (JSA). She has also participated in other student organizations, including Active Minds, Model UN and Golden Key International Honour Society.

Hannah says that her involvement in campus leadership, especially in JSA, has greatly assisted her in preparing to meet career demands. She observes, “Being involved in student organizations gives you a chance to develop skills that are crucial in today’s job market. I have developed my public speaking, time management, task delegation, program planning, program implementation, and teamwork skills.

“Acquiring these skills has set me ahead of my peers when it comes to the job market, because employers will not have to teach me these skills. In addition, student organizations give me a chance to hold leadership positions, something that is not offered to individuals in the early part of their careers.”

Hannah is nearing the completion of her bachelor’s in psychology. In the spring of 2021, she began actively searching for a job.

Hannah notes, “When I interviewed for jobs during the spring, all of my interviewers were impressed with the skills I acquired as a result of my involvement with student organizations. The fact that I knew how to do public speaking, run successful social media campaigns and be in a leadership role over those who are older than me impressed various interviewers.

“When I accepted my current position as the Inspired, Active, Committed, Transformed (IACT) Coordinator at Hillel at the University of Vermont, the interviewer said a major deciding factor in offering me the job was because of my work with student organizations.”

Hannah also recommends that other students find a community by joining a student organization. She says, “Being part of a student organization is one of the best decisions you can ever make. You will gain lifelong friends, grow your network, develop crucial skills and have a fun time. Getting to work on something you are passionate about is always worth it.”

To get started with one of our 70+ student organizations, clubs or honor societies, check out our student organizations. Many organizations have open membership, meaning you can join simply by submitting an application. For further information or questions, contact the Office of Student Affairs.

About the Authors

Hannah Via is a student at American Public University (APU), pursuing a B.A. in psychology with a minor in English. She intends to attend graduate school for marriage and family therapy after graduation.

Hannah currently serves as the Social Media Officer for the Model UN. Club. She is also the President of the Jewish Student Association and Vice President for the university’s chapter of the Golden Key International Honour Society, as well as the Service Director for Active Minds and the Psychology Club. Hannah previously served as the Star Status Coordinator for the university’s National Society for Collegiate Scholars.

Janet Athanasiou has worked for the university since 2011, holding positions such as Academic Advisor, Senior Manager of Advising Schools, and Graduate Academic Advisor. Previously, she worked as a Residence Coordinator for the University of Alberta in Canada. Her academic credentials include a bachelor’s degree in history from Dalhousie University, a master of education degree in counseling psychology from James Madison University, and a doctoral degree in higher education and higher education administration at George Mason University.

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