‘To be or not to be involved’ should not even be a question

Written by: Marissa Barrett

There are over 300 organizations at The University of Akron that provide students with the resources and experiences necessary for post-graduation agendas.

“Becoming involved at the university provides students with a feeling of connectedness, resume-development opportunities, and the chance to meet a host of people,” said UA civic engagement coordinator Allison Doehring.

So the question is, why are there no rooms packed with eager, determined students battling for spots in these groups, especially when, more than ever before, employers are looking for students with real-world experience?

Although in the past year at UA there has been an increase in organizational participation, more than half of the student body has not taken advantage of the variety of programs offered at the university.

Could it be that students are just not aware of the incredible benefits of getting involved?

The best way to get students to understand the benefits of involvement is not to tell them, but to show them.

This year, the Akron chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) enlisted the help of the university chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) in planning and putting on an annual community service event.

The PRSA Nonprofit Pro Bono Day is a one-day event hosted by the Akron PRSA where PR professionals provide free services to local nonprofit organizations.

“We see our annual PRSA Nonprofit Pro Bono Day as an investment in our community,” said Gretchen Fri, Akron PRSA board member and event chair.

Members of the university PRSSA chapter jumped at the opportunity to assist with this event. Not only did they receive real-world experience, networking opportunities, and resume-building material; they
were also able to give back to the community.

“One of the best things a communication student can do is to get involved with PRSSA,” said Christine Boyd, a public relations professional from Neomed. “It is an opportunity to learn about how public relations operates in the real world and to network with public relations professionals who could be your future employers.”

“Intern and volunteer as much as you can,” she said. “Employers need new hires to come with a base level of understanding. The more experience you have, the better chance you will have in landing one of those open positions.”

The 2012 Nonprofit Pro Bono Day outweighed the successes of all previous years, and the university PRSSA chapter was invited back to help with next year’s event.

“This opportunity was beneficial for students to gain and observe real world experience,” said Abby Griffiths, UA student and PRSSA member. “Seeing it in action gives you a better experience than sitting in the classroom ever will.”

Students avoid on-campus organizations for a variety of reasons, but there is no question that the pros of belonging to one overshadow the cons.

The hundreds of student organizations offered at UA are resources for your future, so take advantage of them. Be one step ahead of your competitors, and that open position will belong to you.

For more information about the programs offered at The University of Akron, visit uakron.edu/studentlife/source.

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