University is probably (one of) the last pitstops before you enter the working world. Why not make the best out of it? You could join a few CCAs, form a co-op or startup, or even further upgrade your skills by taking online courses.
In this edition of the Uni Freshies Guide, we will be sharing some criteria to choose a CCA. (For those who need a reason to join a CCA, read here.)
1. What are your interests?
Knowing your interests can help you to decide what you would like to take up. Whether it’s Dancing, Basketball or Volunteering, there’s bound to be a CCA out there for you. CCAs are a good place to relax and have fun after a day’s worth of work! I joined the NUS Volleyball Club (Recreational) in school because I enjoy playing the sport, and it kept me looking forward to every Monday and Friday.
It’s okay to join a CCA alone, because you’ll meet people who have similar interests, and you can make friends with them!
2. What do you want to learn?
In your CCA, you could pick up a new skill or sport, or gain more knowledge! Be fearless in trying out what you have always wanted to try, but never actually pursued. You don’t have to worry about not knowing the basics, because there are many opportunities for learning and hands-on experience.
Not only that, participating in CCA activities will also help you to acquire and apply your knowledge and skills beyond the classroom level. Such skills and knowledge could include communication, problem-solving and financial literacy.
I also joined the NUS Students’ Union Students’ Fund (NUSSU SF) to learn more about Financial Literacy with its Financial Literacy Workshops, and to help the NUS Community via its biannual Bursary Award and Book Grant (BABG) initiative. It was a great experience overall and it allowed me to better appreciate teamwork, communication and flexibility.
3. What commitment levels are you willing to take?
The level of commitment would depend on the nature of the CCA and how the Managing Committee plans it. If you already have pre-existing commitments, do ensure that you have time for yourself and to do other things beyond studying and participating in CCA activities.
Having enough sleep and having a good well-being is important too.
There is a Grade Free Scheme (S/U system) in place in many institutions, in which students have the ability to exercise the option to either record their grade as Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory while attaining the modular credits to hit the graduation requirement.
I took up 5 CCAs in my Year 1 out of interest in various aspects:
- SunNUS 2020 Organising Committee (for Event Publicity exposure)
- NUS Geographical Society’s Freshers Immersion Camp (for Marketing)
- NUSSU SF (for Financial Literacy and Helping through BABG)
- NUS Volleyball Club (Recreational) (to Relax)
- Agora Singapore Speakers’ Club (for Public Speaking)
I managed to be quite involved in school and external activities because the workload in school was considerably manageable as a Year 1 student. Also, the commitment for some CCAs were not high, such as compulsory attendance only during meetings, or when requested.
There were nights where I would sleep really late because I was rushing work or just came home from supper, but it was fun! One thing that I learned to value was free space (of about 2 to 3 hours) in my timetable. During my free time, I would use it to chill with my friends or do some work for my studies or CCAs.
It also helped to have a routine or rough plan of how much time to allocate for CCAs, studies and me time. This way, life would not seem so overwhelming.
4. Resume and Career Preparation
To enter programmes or to land a job of your choice, you may have to showcase your involvement in certain areas relevant to that choice. Involvement in a related CCA would not only boost your experience in the field, but also enhance your suitability to interviewers and employers.
You could also share more of these experiences during your interview to showcase who you are, how you would handle certain situations and what you stand for.
Also, if you’re feeling ambitious or want to better prepare for your career, you could work towards having hands-on experience in running a business through setting up your own business or part-time with start-ups.
On the other hand, if you’re afraid of the huge commitment and if you study in NTU, you could consider taking up part-time work with NTU Co-op! NTU Co-op runs a café at The Hive and you can experience being in a Food and Beverage business. Earning extra money while studying in the same place is surely a win-win situation.
A piece of advice is to find one or two CCAs that align with your interest and allows you to learn and grow as a person. If you feel that there is a better way to run the CCA operations, voice out and be an agent of change in the next Managing Committee!
This article is brought to you by Denise Ong. Denise is a first-year undergraduate in NUS Business School. She is currently interning with SNCF as a Marketing Intern. She is experimenting with designing on Canva and Photoshop, and enjoys playing volleyball in her free time.