The University of Saskatchewan’s main campus is situated on Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis.

Dear first-years: Getting involved is the best way to enhance your university experience

By in Opinions

Many people describe high school as the best years of your life. However, I would argue your time as an undergraduate student will be the best years of your life. 

You are starting a new chapter full of possibilities. The experiences you have as a university student will undoubtedly shape who you become. While it is essential to focus on your academics during your first year of university — and beyond — I believe it is just as important to get involved in the campus community. 

What is wonderful about the U of S is there are many different opportunities to get involved: campus clubs, living in residence, volunteer opportunities, jobs and events. Whatever your interests may be, I bet there are multiple ways for you to get meaningfully engaged. 

As a first-year student, a large interest of mine was money, namely how I was going to make it. The small amount I had saved from my summer job was not enough to live on for the entire school year. I answered an ad on PAWS for a job on campus, which was perfect because I lived on campus as well. I believe answering that ad has led me to where I am today.

Let me explain. The job was a student caller position in the university’s call centre; essentially I cold-called alumni and asked for donations for student scholarships and bursaries. While being a telemarketer was not what I anticipated as my part-time job during university, I continued to work there for the entire duration of my undergrad and even worked my way up to a supervisor. 

Another perk of this position was the networking opportunities I had with different staff members of the department, leading to two very big moments in my life. 

The first was becoming a University Relations Student Ambassador. Myself and a small group of other U of S students networked and volunteered with various groups across campus and in the wider Saskatoon community. 

From meeting lifelong friends to volunteering for some incredible causes, my time as a student ambassador culminated in our group winning a 2016 Youth in Philanthropy Award from the Saskatoon chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. When a group of like-minded individuals come together with a common goal, amazing things will inevitably happen. 

The second big moment in my life, being hired for my current position as a clerical assistant was also a direct cause of my time as a student caller. The connections I made and the knowledge I gained while working as a student caller and a student ambassador definitely gave me a foot above other candidates who applied for the position. I once again get to work with a group of incredible, like-minded individuals, who never fail to make amazing things happen.

In conclusion, never discount the power of experience, connections and getting involved. Our university is a big place, chock-full of opportunities to expand your mind and your life experiences. 

All of the little activities that you partake in will look great on your resume when looking for a job after finishing your degree. Many companies are always looking for experienced candidates. While you may not have much work experience, you can gain other experiences that will make you stand out if you get involved on campus. 

I hope you make the most of your time at the U of S. We look forward to having you.

This article is part of a series where upper-years give advice and share experiences with incoming students. Cymric Leask is a fourth-year sociology student.

This op-ed was written by a University of Saskatchewan undergraduate student and reflects the views and opinions of the writer. If you would like to write a rebuttal, please email opinions@thesheaf.com.

Cymric Leask

Graphic: Mỹ Anh Phan | Design Editor

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