Are you satisfied with just being a member of a club? Do you want to have greater achievement for your extra-curricular activities? Do you want to have something else to print on your name card other than “student of XXX University?” If your answer is yes, stepping up to be a student leader is your way to go!
However, all good things are not easy to get. Competition for limited leadership positions can be strong. How do you make sure that you overcome the odds and emerge as the winner? Then bear in following 5 tips in mind.
Show your passion
It goes without saying that a leader must have passion for the club or the portfolio that he/she is taking care of. However, the point here is that you need to show that you have the passion. A good way to show passion is to attend as many events/activities of the club as possible. If it’s a performing arts club, go for the extra concerts organized by the club. If it’s an academic club, go for the talks or conferences organized by your club. In a word, be seen in many places. Action speaks louder than words when you want to prove that you have passion for the club.
Show your readiness for leadership
Let us assume that many people who join a club should have interest in what the club is doing. Then how do you differentiate yourself even further? You need to show that you have the readiness for being a leader. First of all, you need to take initiative. Did you notice any problem or area of improvement in how the club or certain event is being run? Great! Voice it out to your current leaders. Even if your opinion doesn’t get adopted, you have demonstrated that you have greater concern for the club than the rest.
Secondly, step up for challenging work. Is there any job that many others don’t wish to take up because they think it’s too difficult or time-consuming? Take them. Be sure that you do a good job for them. Your current leader will notice how different you are.
Lastly, you need to show you have strong work ethics. Don’t be late for meetings. In fact, go there five minutes earlier so you can talk to more people personally before meeting starts. Respond to emails readily. Don’t let other chase after you!
Have the technical knowledge
If you are applying for certain jobs with technical expertise involved, be sure that you have what it takes. The research portfolio of many academic clubs needs a leader who can hold meaningful group discussions and critique the research work of others. The IT portfolio requires a leader who can solve problems and supervise others for IT work.
Of course, you don’t need to be an expert in this area to be a leader. At least, you need to have basic understanding and capability. For such leadership positions, your technical skills are part of your leadership credential.
In most of the student clubs, selection of leaders is done by one of the two mechanisms. One is by popular vote and one is by selection. They offer very different challenges that you may need to respond differently. Let’s take a look!
If you will be judged by a group of voters, think of yourself as a politician. Your popularity determines your fate. And your popularity is not necessarily a function of your capability, but more of your likeability. You need to be liked and welcomed by your people. They may not know your well. Or they may not even know you beyond your name. Hence your technical expertise or leadership qualities don’t matter that much to them now. You need to give voters what they want.
They want to vote for a candidate that is confident and charismatic. They want to vote for a candidate whom they know slightly better, so they don’t feel they are just voting for a random name. Hence what you need to do is to make sure you always carry yourself appropriately in terms of dress, hairstyle and more. You need to make sure you talk to them or have interaction with them as much as possible. Establish personal connection and you are just one step away from being elected.
Nail your interview
However, some clubs, especially the smaller ones, prefer selection. Though they may also have a voting mechanism, most of the decision is made by current leaders through a face-to-face interview. Just a reminder before we go into the interview part. You are actually going through an extended interview process the moment you become a member of a club and are observed by others. The face-to-face interview is really the last step of selecting people, not the first or the only step.
As with any other kind of interview, you need to be liked by your interviewers. Unlike the voters, your interviewers will look into you more closely. They will probe deeper into why you are interested in the job. Make sure you prepare for those common interview questions. You will only appear confident and natural with preparation. Get some bullet points and stories ready in your head before you go for the interview. Very often, you interviewer will ask your vision or plan for your future role. That question effectively differentiates a candidate who applies for the sake of applying and a candidate who has real passion for the work. You definitely want to belong to the second type,
The process of applying for a leadership position is as rewarding as the outcome itself. Grab the opportunity! Use the five tips above and say hello to your leadership position.