At the beginning of your college career, you probably arrived on campus excited about the adventure before you – ready to take on the academic challenge, eager to make new friends and anxious to check out the nightlife. But now that things have settled down, you realize that you’re doing more than “just going to college.” You’re preparing for your future. You’re building your career.
Unfortunately, many students think that the academic side of college is just about the classes and maybe an internship, if they can work it out. They don’t realize how important networking can be at this stage or that there are a number of professional organizations on campus that are just waiting to help ignite their career.
Most colleges have several professional organizations represented on campus for students to join; some even continue this relationship at the graduate level. Joining these organizations as a student offers a number of benefits, often including:
- reduced or free dues rates,
- access to professionals in your field of study,
- internship and co-op opportunities, and
- specialized training seminars, workshops and conferences.
So, what kinds of organizations are out there?
One student-run organization in the hospitality field is the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality or NSMH. This is a student-run organization that addresses diversity and multiculturalism, as well as career development for its student members. Students make up the entire leadership of this organization, from the chair to the secretary and treasurer.
The great thing about NSMH is that they celebrate diversity, so everyone is invited to join. There are local chapters at most schools that have a hospitality program.
In addition to professional organizations like NSMH, other groups such as fraternities and sororities, as well as business fraternities, offer great opportunities for students to develop their future career. These organizations can often provide networking and mentoring opportunities to the student early in his/her college career and offer internships or externships, and they can assist with job offers after graduation. The added bonus is that many of these organizations also offer scholarships to their members while they’re in school
What does joining NSMH or any professional organization really do for you? NSMH, for example, is a premier organization that attracts quality students. As a result, companies look to this group for great hires after graduation. Sodexo has partnered with NSMH for years. If you’re a member, we hope to see you in Atlanta next month for the national conference. Click here to read about last year’s conference.
Joining a professional organization or other mentoring group offers you a number of personal benefits, allowing you to
- Meet people that are like minded.
- Discover mentors that can guide you.
- Participate in events with both students and professionals in attendance.
- Participate in great networking opportunities.
- Sharpen resume writing skills.
- Brush up on interviewing skills.
- Apply for internships and externships
- Identify scholarship opportunities
- Make connections that can lead to you being hired.
- Take on leadership/chapter officer roles to gain leadership experience that could make you more attractive to employers.
What type of opportunities are you looking for? Take some time here at the New Year to map out a few plans that will get you started. Think about the benefits that will come from joining a professional organization. Reach for your goals. Good Luck!
Derren is the Manager, Diversity Recruiting for Sodexo which is a leader in integrated food service and facilities management. He is responsible for managing the Sodexo Future Leaders Internship Program as well as executing diversity sourcing initiatives for both campus and targeted experienced hires. With over 14+ years of experience with Sodexo, Derren has had great success as a General Manager in the company’s Health Care Services division as well as in several positions within their Talent Acquisition Group. He’s an active corporate partner with the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality (NSMH). Derren is an AIRS Certified Diversity Recruiter (CDR) and Certified Internet Recruiter (CIR).