How to Get Involved and Create Connections while in University
Over my 3.5 years at SFU, I always had a sense of direction in terms of what I wanted to go into after graduation. This is something that some may relate to, however for others, this may not be the case and that is perfectly okay. I will be sharing some tips on how to gain insight, volunteer opportunities and connections in the fields you possibly want to work in; regardless of if you already have an idea!
1. Attend career series or alumni nights
Career series or alumni nights are hosted at least once per semester by the Criminology Student Association (CSA). These events bring in past SFU students (alumni night) or various professionals who have CRIM degrees and beyond, to share where they have reached in terms of the scope of Criminology. These events may seem boring if you already know what you want to do in life, but I still found them to be extremely useful in terms of providing me with insight into the day to day life of certain careers. Additionally, if you are good at small talk, you may even be successful in networking with the individuals who have the careers you hope to have some day! I always understood my future career on the surface level but with actual individuals who were just in my position a few years ago, I was able to see the inner works that you won’t find on google. For individuals who are not sure of the sector they may want to work in, these events provide a broken down explanation of the pros and cons of certain jobs. The presenters don’t always actually highlight the pros and cons of their jobs, but through their explanations of their day to day tasks and the Q&A period, it is easy to come to that conclusion yourself. This is useful because some jobs may not be what you always thought they were, so this way you can find out early on and get advice about the job from the professionals or your advising team!
2. Attend meetings for student unions, associations, societies or clubs!
If you don't feel comfortable joining any student union groups just yet, that's perfectly fine! I joined random meetings from the CSA and various events hosted by the Pre-Law Society just to gain an idea about the groups and what they can help me with. After seeing how amazing the events were and how much I benefited from just attending them, I decided to finally join one so that I could help plan the events myself. After enough meetings with the CSA I finally felt ready to officially join as a general member, and eventually when I was confident enough, I ran for the position of executive assistant and got elected in. Joining a group can be daunting but just know that it is okay to take it slow, and it's also okay to just jump in and run for a role despite not being involved previously! Overall, the take away from joining student groups is that when you are sounded by people who have similar goals to yours, you can encourage one another and also gain a lot of information and connections. In CSA I met individuals who are now pursuing things post grad that I hope to do as well, so it is nice to have a familiar face in those areas to whom I can reach out to when in need of advice! One day, I hope to return the favor to any newer students in the CSA.
This one is a given and probably the piece of advice I heard the most, but it is very true! Volunteer wherever your heart desires and I guarantee you that somehow you will gain connections to the school or career you hope to have, regardless of how closely related your job opportunity is to that thing. Genuine connections get made at volunteer opportunities if you put in effort, so take the time to find what works for you and jump into it, because it's so worth it in the end. You can find volunteer opportunities through the SFU criminology instagram page, emails from the CRIM advisors, and sometimes even through professors, so keep an eye out!
Overall, my advice is to find out as much as you can about the career or further education that you are interested in pursuing, so that you can plan ahead accordingly and be prepared! Getting involved in your school community helps you make connections that can last far outside of your SFU experience, which is always handy!