You’re never too young to set goals for yourself. As young women, we spend our high school English classes having lofty daydreams about our future, wondering if we’ll end up hustling in New York City or Los Angeles, starting a small company in our hometown, or if we’ll be traveling the world. There are so many possibilities that are available to young women that it makes sense why we’re more driven to choose career over settling down earlier now. If you’re anxious to get a head start on the rest of your life, college is the prime opportunity to truly discover what lights your fire.
Aside from delving into the major that will hopefully lead to a future career, you can participate in a vast array of extracurriculars that will enrich your college experience—and resume. From the first day you step foot on your college campus, you can be a leader through the opportunities you explore and the way you treat others. If you know that one day you’ll see your name next to the word “CEO,” there are more than enough opportunities to pursue throughout college that will help you achieve the leadership you crave—and will help shape you into a better person along the way.
Figure out what you’re passionate about.
If you were a student leader in high school that will probably easily translate into joining organizations in college. Before you sign up for 25 different organizations (seriously, you won’t answer more than half of their emails), really think about what you want to devote your time to during your four short years at university. Obviously, you don’t have to have everything figured out the first time you go to a club fair—an impactful passion project can present itself sophomore, junior, even senior year. Pick the organizations that you know will drive and motivate you. Whether it’s a small on-campus publication or student government, you’ll succeed in the organizations you have the most passion for!
Take a leadership role in an on-campus organization.
After participating in an organization for a few months, if you’re interested in becoming a leader within your community, reach out to the current executive board. There are innumerable ways to impact your club—organizations such as Greek Life, student government, academic societies, and community service clubs are consistently looking for future leaders. And the great news is that many of these clubs aren’t hierarchal—you can get involved as a leader as soon as your second semester freshman year.
Reach out to the executive board after determining how involved you would like to be in the club for the future, and see what positions would be best to fulfill your interests. If you’re looking for a more niche experience, apply for a targeted position such as Event Planning or Membership/Marketing chair. However, if you would like to have your hand in all the challenges that face your organization, you can apply to be President. Ensure that you are interested in multiple positions so that if you don’t get your first choice, you are still an active participant in your club.
Participate actively within your university.
One of the best ways you can get leadership experience that will give you the skills to be a future boss is through working with your university. Your college undoubtedly needs students to help promote the school—and if you’re looking to up your interpersonal skills and are passionate about the school you choose, there are so many opportunities for you to take.
You can be a tour guide, a student ambassador, an administrative assistant, a tutor, or an intern in the marketing department. If you’re seeking to enhance your public speaking and interpersonal skills, being a tour guide or orientation worker will allow you to work on that while having a real hand in the future of your university. If you’re seeking to understand the business behind admission or publicity decisions, start by seeking an internship or administrative job in one of your school’s offices.
Whatever you choose to do, working in tandem with your university automatically makes you a leader and will only speak to your communication skills on any resume you create.
Take advantage of your available resources.
Something important to remember as you seek leadership opportunities is that nothing will come your way if you don’t put yourself out there and trust in your capabilities. As young women, it’s easy to fall victim to imposter syndrome—the belief that we’re not suited for a position of power that we’ve earned. If you’ve earned a leadership position, you’ve proven you’re capable.
In terms of putting yourself out there, make sure you’re constantly introducing yourself to people and attending events sponsored by your chosen organization or university. Spending time holed up in your dorm room and hoping that opportunities will magically present themselves is not the way you achieve your goals. It’ll take a little leg work on your part but ask for all the help you need along the way. Attend expos, networking events, and socials in order to make yourself seen as the leader you are—and the leader the eventually aspire to be.
Do good for others.
One of the most rewarding ways you can be a leader is through providing service to your greater community. Whether this is volunteering at local soup kitchens, organizing clothing donations, or hosting fundraiser events, you can be seen as a leader at not only your university but in your town. Service opportunities provide a place for you to grow not only in leadership skills but also in empathy. It encourages you to step outside of your privilege and put yourself in another person’s shoes. Service reminds us all that we should ultimately be working for a greater purpose.
Even at universities, you can engage in impactful service opportunities that will lead to rewarding leadership roles. Become involved as a Student Health ambassador and work in erasing the stigma surrounding mental health. Volunteer at your university’s sexual response center and be a resource for victims. Move on up within your community service center and plan service trips and local excursions. You may not be looking to go into non-profit work following graduation, but you will only feel good about the community service you partake in throughout college.
Ultimately, focus on enjoying the present.
Though you may view college as the vehicle to get you to your dream career, remind yourself that these four short years shouldn’t only be about the next step. Slow down and enjoy it. Enjoy the laughs you have with your friends, enjoy the sleepless nights and the memories you’ll make along the way. While the work you put in college is invaluable, you have your whole life to be a CEO. Take these four years to become the leader you were always meant to be—while enjoying the bumps in the ride along the way.