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How Being a Student Leader Impacts Your Post-Grad Life

Published on March 3, 2021, at 5:50 p.m. 
by Lawson Colgate.

Parents, teachers and mentors all encourage us to “get involved.” They harp on the idea that the best way to make friends and gain experience is to “get involved.” And who’s to say they’re right or wrong? But, what constitutes the “right” amount of involvement?

College can be overwhelming with a new school, new friends, new coursework and more. Some join a sorority or book club; others dive into the organizations their majors offer. Some go the extra mile and take on a leadership role in their organization of choice. Does being a leader make those individuals better than others? No, but it does help them increase their knowledge and potentially set them ahead post-graduation.

Being a student leader not only impacts one’s life while holding the position, but also afterward. Student leaders have the ability to strive in their future career endeavors and inspire others to do the same.

Holding a leadership position as a student has a large impact on who they become during their college years. Student leaders gain qualities such as confidence, responsibility, organization and time management. They also develop communications, negotiation, management and problem-solving skills.

When one is placed in a leadership position, it is often by others. Although the individual may be the one actively pursuing the position, others are recognizing their abilities by placing them in that role. This recognition enables leaders to become more confident.

“Being a leader doesn’t always mean you’ll have the answers, but it does mean you need to be confident in the decisions you make,” said Maret Montanari, a former firm director of The University of Alabama’s Capstone Agency. “If I had let the self-doubt and fear of action rule my thoughts, then I never would have accomplished much in my role.”

As Montanari implied, student leaders not only gain confidence from recognition, but also from decision-making. Even when new situations arise, and one is not quite sure how to handle them, facing them head-on is what makes one successful. This confidence has allowed Montanari to take more responsibility in her job as a communications specialist at Jackson Spalding, which in turn allows her to better serve her clients.

Photo by STIL on Unsplash

A skill such as time management goes hand in hand with taking time for oneself, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is important to complete one’s tasks and not get stressed, especially when a deadline looms.

“With daily needs for each group to tend to in addition to classwork, you learn a thing or two about scheduling and putting the phone away to take time for yourself,” said Ashby Brown, a former president of The University of Alabama’s C&IS ambassadors.

Brown noted that when planning her week, relaxing for a few minutes each day helped her to be successful in her job as a business analyst at New York Life Investments.

From cultivating a professional network to acquiring leadership skills, being a student leader provides one with endless benefits. Some of these include building a résumé, reducing stress and discovering new interests.

Brown discussed the skills she was able to learn to reduce her stress when serving as a student leader. She also mentioned the amazing people she met during her time as the C&IS ambassadors president.

“Whether I was leading them in an organization, chatting with them on the Quad or seeing them out around town, I got to know and work with people who are going to change the world someday,” said Brown.

Brown benefited not only from the skills she acquired in her leadership position, but also from helping other students, especially younger ones.

Photo by fauxels from Pexels

Montanari had similar advice in mentioning that she surrounded herself with smart, devoted and diverse individuals who challenged her and took her outside of her comfort zone.

In addition to professional advantages, networking offers personal benefits. Those who surround themselves with people who make them happy and who also have the same interests have a more enjoyable, less stressful life.

Involvement and leadership provide one with qualities and benefits that positively impact them when joining and working in a professional environment.

In Capstone Agency specifically, Montanari explained, the work correlates to the work she is doing for Jackson Spalding and in entry-level roles.

Similarly, Brown explained that her specific leadership role did not set her apart. Rather, the skills obtained from her organizational involvement allowed her to have experiences that many of her other co-workers did not have.

Personal qualities and experiences shape who we are and what we do in our futures. All in all, the successes and the failures that student leaders encounter distinguish them from others and set them up for long-term professional success.

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