By Rishi Ghorad, 2019-2020 SCS Advising Leader
Getting Involved - Research, Extracurriculars, and Clubs
College is all about pursuing passions and interests. This should not only be a priority for any student, but also an opportunity to engage themselves in a setting unlike any other in their lives. UIUC has the size, resources, and enthusiasm that fosters the growth and development of numerous registered student organizations. That means that options are limitless. However, on the other side of things, it is all up to you to decide what to be a part of and to have the confidence and drive to become involved.
I took that idea to heart and became a part of AIChE (American Institute of Chemical Engineers), which is a club that is involved with networking as well as career and professional opportunities. It was a great way to not only make friends but to meet upperclassmen and even talk to professors. The biggest advice I can give is to be friendly with your peers and share your interests with them. I eventually became a part of ChemE Car (a club within AIChE), through talking with some seniors about my interests in hands-on work as a chemical engineer. This also led me to meet my now close friends, and also develop my understanding of what options my career path entails as well as what I was personally interested in.
One of the most influential parts of becoming involved with clubs is the people that are a part of them. Friends made inside and outside the classroom not only make college more enjoyable but can help you find out more about your interests. I eventually became involved in membrane and biofuel production research due to the help of a close friend of mine. She got me involved alongside her with a project she was able to join. I talked with our professor and got to know more of the lab technicians, which helped both of us become involved in grant applications and funding work. Eventually, we were able to receive a grant for $10,000 towards our project. Experiences like these are only possible through the contact that is made between people and the ability to reach out.
The big point is, you should always be looking to make meaningful connections with people. Whether that is peers, upperclassmen, or professors, there is so much to learn and explore on campus. The energy and passions of our clubs and students catch fire in the hearts of many, and hopefully the same happens with you. There are definitely places where you belong out there, so keep your head up and get involved.