Co-ops and internships are an ideal way to prepare for your career, but there are other ways to test out various fields and build experience. For many, these are a good first step because you can start as soon as you are a UMass Amherst student and you can try out a lot of different opportunities.
This is the time to think broadly, pursue your passions, and break out of your comfort zone. Or just do something that sounds fun.
Student Run Businesses
On and Off Campus Employment
Recognized Community Service
UMass Amherst has one of the largest and most diversified student activities programs in the country. With over 200 Registered Student Organizations (RSOs) there are probably several that would interest you, no matter who you are. Your experiences in an RSO will be hands-on. Students run the organizations, manage finances, plan, publicize, and execute events, and juggle multiple details and needs. You are not even limited to UMass Amherst student organizations. You can join groups at any of the five colleges (Amherst, Hampshire, Mt Holyoke, Smith and UMass). The Five Colleges Consortium website will connect you with a comprehensive listing of student clubs and organizations associated with each college.
Each semester, about 150 students work for non-profit businesses that are entirely student-run. These provide vital services to the campus community (from a quick snack to bike repair), while giving students a chance to enhance their classroom learning with a taste of professional experience. Student co-managers run the day-to-day operations, hire and supervise the staff, purchase inventory, equipment, and supplies, and manage finances. They get help in these endeavors from the Center for Student Business (CSB). Run by students as well as by professional staff, the CSB provides services, consultation, and support to student businesses.
There’s a good chance that you will work at a part-time job during college—work-study or not—to help pay your costs. These jobs do not have to be far removed from your academic interests and career aspirations. In fact, many provide valuable academic and career experience. Available jobs working for UMass, either on or close-to campus, are posted to the frequently updated UMass Amherst Student Job Board. Also see the website of the Student Employment Office for a wide range of additional opportunities that can fit into your academic schedule and provide the income and experience you need.
The ability to be a leader is a quality that will be essential as you pursue a career. Through co-curricular activities, campus involvement, and community service you will discover and strengthen your own leadership skills in a supportive environment. As you move forward in your career, your ability to take on responsibilities, communicate clearly, manage organizations, and work as part of a team, will really pay off. Being involved in campus organizations of all sorts provides content for your resume and assures your next employer that you have developed your leadership skills while in college. Visit the Center for Student Development website for ideas on how to take advantage of campus opportunities to build leadership skills.
Our programs that foster social responsibility and public service have been recognized nationally by the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll every year since 2006. Princeton Review honored our campus, in their report Colleges with a Conscience: 81 Great Schools with Outstanding Community Involvement. In November 2013, we were cited a "community-engaged university" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement for Teaching. Every student on campus has opportunities to become part of this important UMass Amherst tradition. The best place to start is Civic Engagement and Service Learning (CESL), which will help you to identify community service opportunities and to integrate them with your overall education. You can also find community service opportunities through Registered Student Organizations (RSO's), your academic department, your residence hall community, or a Greek organization (see below).
Greek organizations -- sororities and fraternities -- bring together many of the experiential opportunities mentioned above. Being a part of Greek life can help you to build leadership and teamwork skills, and to learn about program development, fundraising, and community service. Fraternities and sororities also provide contacts and networking opportunities that can serve you well into your career. Go to the Office of Fraternities and Sororities website to learn more.
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