High school and college students alike can benefit from gaining leadership skills while in school. Leadership experience is invaluable to your success in your future career. However, many students are unsure what steps they can take to develop their leadership abilities. Here are five ways you can grow as a leader.
Run for student government
The option to run for student government is available to both high school and college students. Within student government, there are generally several positions including president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, speaker, senator, and more. Each position gives you an opportunity to practice different skills sets, but all roles allow officers to collaborate with other students, faculty, and administration, as well as to plan events, create and follow a budget, and make important decisions which affect other students. If you have an interest in politics or making change at your school, student government is a great way to get involved, meet other people, and sharpen your leadership skills.
Start or join a club
Maybe student government isn’t for you, and that’s okay! All students can find a way to get involved on their campus through student clubs and organizations by finding something that’s the right fit for them. Review your school’s list of clubs, and pick one to join. If you are passionate about something and your school doesn’t have a corresponding club, start one! Within clubs, there are leadership opportunities just as there are within student government. Even if you join a club as just a member, get involved, go to meetings regularly, and run for office when you can.
Take the lead on a group project
Aside from getting involved with student-run organizations, you can gain leadership experience right in class. Instead of dreading your group projects, get excited about them. See them as an opportunity to lead your teammates to success. To take a leadership role, play an active part in identifying project goals, brainstorm ideas, volunteer to take on specific tasks and complete them on time, make sure your peers understand their parts, check in regularly with your group, schedule follow-up meetings, and help prevent negativity. These are all valuable skills to have in the workplace as most professionals rarely work alone.
Mentor a younger student
Another great way to gain leadership experience is to become a mentor. You may be wondering what makes you, or anyone, qualified to be a mentor. If you’ve ever experienced personal, professional, or academic achievement, if you have made and learned from past mistakes, and if you are interested in the success of others, you will likely be a great mentor. If you are a college student, consider mentoring a college freshman or sophomore on success at college or mentor a high school junior or senior as they transition to college. If you are a high school student, you could mentor a junior high or elementary student. Mentees thrive on the support and guidance of a quality mentor. Serving as a mentor might be a great fit for you if you want to make a difference in someone’s life while gaining coaching and leadership skills.
Volunteer with a non-profit organization
Volunteering with a non-profit organization opens up the door to many possibilities — one of which is taking on a leadership role. Find something you are passionate about such as feeding the homeless, caring for shelter animals, or working with children, and get involved. Your community can always use the help of its citizens. Although you may not feel like you are gaining leadership skills initially, after regularly committing your time to an organization, you may find that you are training other volunteers, planning events, and more.
There are several ways to gain leadership experience and these are just a few suggestions. If you are still unsure where to start, ask your school counselor or academic advisor for information related to leadership courses or seminars, and for specific opportunities on your campus to get involved. Now is the time to gain and practice these skills. Don’t let the opportunity pass you by!
Brenna Tonelli is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.