As someone who is passionate about leadership and student organizations on campus, the Student Leader Round Table was the perfect opportunity for me to reflect on my experiences as a leader, share my own learnings and wisdom, as well as learn from other leaders in the university. Over the spring semester, the round table (or the student leader illuminati as I like to call it) met every other week and discussed a specific issue related to running a student organization. Each of us have had different approaches to the issues, so it was great to hear how the specific situation of an organization affects our approach of thinking about or solving an issue.
We met for the very first time in January to get to know each other and plan out the semester. We broke out into 2 groups, and each group had to come up with 5 topics to talk about throughout the semester.
This session was probably the first time I have interacted with other student leaders to talk about common issues in an abstract manner.
The first session topic was Hybrid Meetings and Events.
This is a relatively new issue for student organizations, ever since COVID restrictions have relaxed. After the rise of virtual meetings, organizations have discovered that the convenience of attending an event from home is going to forever change how we connect with our community. At the same time, there are people who, after living in isolation for over a year, really want to get back to face to face interaction. So hybrid meetings seems like the best way to cater to every audience.
However, since hybrid meetings have never been properly explored by anyone, let alone by student organizations. So we discussed motivations, ideas, challenges, etc. It was a great conversation that I learn a lot from, and hopefully it will allow me to improve the hybrid meeting experience for my organizations.
The topic of our second session was Recruitment.
This is one of the most elementary issues that every organization has to deal with. To stay relevant in the community and continue to achieve our goals, we have to spread awareness about our organizations' existence and attract people who can contribute to the organization.
The recruitment process has many different aspects, including (but not limited to) identifying the target audience, figuring out incentives and benefits, and formulating attractive marketing material.
To exercise formulating elevator pitches, we did the classic "Sell me X in a minute" activity. The presenters chose a few random images, and a volunteer had to come up with an elevator pitch on the spot. This was a great exercise for me personally, because I am often put in a situation where I am in a conversation and I want to tell them about my organization and what we do and why they should get involved.
In our third meeting, we talked about Executive Transition.
Executive transition is an issue that usually lives in the blind spot of organization leaders. If we are not conscious about how we are handling transitions to the new executives at the end of our tenures, the organization can potentially go through a very difficult start and change into something else.
This mostly happens because every leader needs to have certain frameworks and processes to run an organization. If those frameworks are not handed to us by a previous leader, we will come up with our own, which will take a lot of time to figure out, and will be likely very different from what the previous leaders used.
We talked about the timeline of executive transition - candidacy, elections, transitions and first meeting. For candidacy and elections, we discussed what the candidates and the voters need to know before the elections. We also discussed how different organizations can have different approaches to how the new executive is selected, or how elections are executed.
Every executive role has some essential core aspects, which need to be clearly documented and shared with the newly elected members. The easiest way to achieve that is to write it in a document and hold a transition meeting between the outgoing and incoming member.
This is the meeting that I presented in along with a partner, and it was about Inter-Org Collab.
I am very passionate about collaborations. I think collabs are a great way to build up relationships, expand outreach, and get access to more resources and do bigger projects. So that is what we started the discussion with - benefits of collaborating.
I had a lot of experiences and anecdotes to share for this presentation, because almost all of ITSA events have been a collab of some sort. They also helped me come up with topics to talk about, as well as to make my point. For example, I brought up the idea of the ITSA partnering with a local cafe and coffee roaster to increase awareness about specialty coffee.
This specific meeting was also a little disappointing in some ways. It finished in less than 40 minutes, where as all the previous ones went on until the 50-55 minute mark. While some of that can definitely be attributed to low attendance and participation by the other members of the roundtable, I definitely felt like the content we came up with in the meeting was not enough. What makes it worse is that my partner warned me of this, but for some reason I was confident that the content we have in the slides was more than enough. In hindsight looking at the slides of the other meetings, I definitely under-prepared.
However, even though I did not get much feedback from the other members on this topic, just the preparation had an immense impact on how I think about collaborations, and it helped me organize a lot of my random thoughts and opinions into a clear framework, which I can document further.