Print Edition: September 26, 2012
Let’s face it, everybody and their toaster has a bachelor’s degree these days.
If you want to stand out from the legions of little kitchen appliances pouring out of post-secondary institutions every spring, you’ve got to trick out your chrome finish with a little flair: extra-curricular activities. An answer to the question: what did you really do in college?
But you’ve heard that speech before, at every college fair, in every advisory meeting. We all know what there is to be gained in these kind of pursuits, but there’s something standing in the way: intimidation.
I spent the first year of my undergrad on the sidelines. I attended classes, did my readings, wrote my papers and hid out in my white Ford Focus on Tuesday afternoons playing guitar, but as soon as class was over, I drove straight home and never looked back.
I attended my first Cascade story meeting over two years ago. I was terrified. Everybody in the crowded boardroom seemed to know everybody else and exactly what they were doing. Editors were furiously scribbling assignments onto whiteboards and writers were cracking complicated inside jokes I didn’t have a hope in hell of understanding. It was, in a word, intimidating. I felt out of my depth. It was the very reason I had put off attending meetings for such a long time, despite my journalistic ambitions.
Here’s an example of how far the conflict between what I was doing and what I wanted to do went. Second semester, I took home an issue of The Cascade and rigorously copy-edited the better portion of the news section with a red Bic. I thought I’d done a great job, but balked at actually delivering my work to the newspaper offices.
After a couple of meetings, the awkwardness began to thaw. These days when I see new volunteers show up at story meetings, I’m impressed they took that all-important first step. I can see that same look of trepidation in their eyes I’m sure my early editors saw in mine.
Other clubs and associations aren’t much different. CIVL station manager Aaron Levy is a busy guy, but tell him you want to pitch in and he’ll find something for you to do. Volunteering at CIVL radio is not as daunting as it might seem to the outsider. If you want to host a show, you have to clock a few volunteer hours and undergo basic soundboard training before recording a 20-minute pilot episode. It might take a couple tries before you’ll be approved by the programming committee, but this is a perfect scenario for honing your skills.
Media not your thing? UFV’s roster of clubs and associations spans politics (SUS); activism (Pride, Students for Sustainibility); creative writing and publishing (the Louden Singletree); photography and much more. Shit, there’s even a club for Accounting students.
Interested in grad school? Why not check out the university’s paid work-study opportunities as research assistants?
College is the perfect time to discover your passion. Don’t neglect the wealth of unique opportunities afforded to you during your undergraduate degree just because you’re shy. We’ve all been there. Confidence is something you have to work at. The thing you’ll regret most is not getting involved sooner.