Whether you are in high school or in college, it is critical that you get involved on campus organizations throughout your four years. If you are on this page, you are probably interested in business, finance, entrepreneurship or economics. If in high school, ask around the student body and check out the various booths at Club Fair day to see what piques your interest. A common club is DECA which focuses on marketing, management, and entrepreneurship. I recall at my high school, we had both DECA and an App Dev Club that collaborates to develop useful mobile applications. There are often investment clubs as well.
In college, there are dozens of clubs in each sub-industry under the umbrella of business. There are generally several investment clubs, each specifying in certain strategies, or different goals, and/or different functions. For example, at my University, there is a Value Investment Group that competitively recruits students to analyze and purchase the most underpriced assets with the highest intrinsic value with a pool of capital. Many of you would salivate at the mentioning of the growing popularity of the Entrepreneurship Club. There is also the Trojan Investment Society which meets and discusses market news for the week and plans potential networking events and dinners. A sidenote–remember to be personal at these events and be genuine, not superficial. You want to nurture a relationship with the professional you’re speaking to because he or she will not offer you the chance or interview of a lifetime if they don’t know you, and especially if they know you’re trying to use them for your own advantage. Be chill, it’ll make you more memorable for interviewers, and it’ll get you more likes on your profile picture.
Now, when I urge you to get involved, I don’t mean a half-ass attempt, like showing up to every fourth meeting, or signing up for the newsletter. This won’t get you anywhere, and the people who look at your resume will not even acknowledge the fact that you were in that organization. Be a PART of the process, so you have something genuine and tangible to note on your resume (since I know that’s the main driving force to join clubs and orgs 😉 ). Most employers encourage you not to mention clubs that you are not on the executive board of under your work or club experience. An executive board position shows that you are capable of leading others, creating your own ideas and platforms, and are able to execute. The famous saying goes, “It’s all in the execution.” If you are passionate about the group you are joining (which you should be), this will not be a problem.
The reason why I like joining clubs, preferably as a decision-maker with some sort of responsibility, is that I have an opportunity to share my ideas with all types of people–like-minded individuals, those with opposing viewpoints, hard-workers, talented mathematicians, investors with keen eyes, etc… It opens your mind to the perspectives of others who are interested in the same field that you are. This is not only a fun way to make new friends who could someday become your best man, but it also allows you to grow as a young professional. From experience, you can engage in critical thinking and brainstorming sessions with intelligent discussions about how to diversify a hypothetical client’s portfolio. In such meetings, I have made friends with whom I’ve pitched stocks, both successfully and unsuccessfully. But what I took away from it was helpful criticism that I will never forget, because it was his honest opinion–this is an attribute that should be held in high regard. It’s a chance to feel like Winston Churchill (if you’re club President), or Benjamin Graham (check him out–on par with Buffett, but lesser known because he was before our time), or Bill Gates. Bouncing ideas off peers is a quick way to become a better professional, businessperson, entrepreneur, banker, consultant, analyst, investor, manager, treasurer, or CEO.
You can do it, but you have to be passionate and willing to give back to the club(s) or organization(s) that you are a part of. Even if you don’t want to commit the time, or simply cannot, the involvement will give you incentive to stay motivated and pursue your interests to the next level.