Although IU provides limitless opportunities for aspiring journalists to exercise their writing, reporting and editing skills on campus, sometimes a Hoosier can’t quite find exactly what they’re looking for. If you find yourself with sore soles from taking multiple roundabouts through the booths of student involvement fairs or with watery eyes from browsing the lists on MyINvolvement, it may be time to add to these booths and lists rather than playing “Eeny, meeny miny moe” and settling for something you aren’t passionate about. Here are five tips for starting and maintaining your own publication or organization on campus.
1. Inquiring & Applying
It’s love at first site (pun intended). Find a magazine or content source that infuses your aspiring journalistic self with excitement. Next, do some research — determine whether or not the magazine of interest provides a campus chapter program. If a campus chapter program exists, the site will either provide an online application or contact information to send inquiry emails. If a campus chapter program does not exist, send an inquiry email to a staffer on the magazine’s team that you feel could best answer your question. Note: You do not want to send a mass email to everyone on the magazine’s contact list; it’s unprofessional and even a little lazy. Ed encourages you to inquire about a campus chapter program, even if one does not currently exist, because you may spark an idea and land yourself a resume booster labeled “Campus Chapter Program Founder.” Sounds fancy, huh?
Before accepting a position as founder, you’ll want to evaluate your current obligations and schedule. The staff behind the magazine will decide whether or not you’re a good fit for the position based on your application and orientation process; however, the only person that can truly estimate the future success or failure of this new project is you. Begin your self-evaluation by comparing the campus chapter requirements to your current workload and availability. Some programs require a weekly quote of hours invested into the chapter, while others request frequent communication with headquarters. Requirements vary, and can sometimes be negotiable as long as you report your questions, comments and/or concerns to the program director in a professional manner and timely fashion.
3. Establishing & Building
Perhaps the best thing about Hoosiers is that they’re always looking to be the best they can be. Seek a group of committed and passionate Hoosiers through social media, word of mouth and student resources. Tweet it, Facebook it and don’t stop talking about it. Students won’t magically hear about your new project, so ask your family, friends and followers to share information about your soon-to-be campus chapter. IU also provides students with communication tools, like OnCourse messaging systems, and new organization registration, which will provide your team with a faculty adviser, possible funding and promotional perks like a MyInvolvement webpage and a booth at student involvement fairs.
After establishing your campus chapter and building your team, the difficult part has yet to come. Think of this as post-honeymoon stage; the excitement may begin to dwindle and obstacles quickly arise. It’s crucial to keep yourself and your team motivated because without an encouraging leader or an enthusiastic team, your campus chapter won’t see much success. Take time to advise your team to stay organized in order to minimize the quantity on their to-do lists while maximizing the quality of their work. Stress the importance of taking quality “you” time by unplugging from your email for the night or treating yourself with an hour of Netflix. Additionally, suggest team-bonding events, which may sound corny but will reinforce a professional, yet fun atmosphere.
5. Advancing or Appointing
It typically takes a semester to establish a campus chapter, build a team and note what’s working and what’s not. It generally takes another semester to get a firm grasp on a realistic outlook for a campus chapter’s future and its team. After the second semester, it’ll most likely be time to decide whether or not this is a project and team that you wish to continue to contribute to and lead. It may be time to advance your campus chapter to the next level by building a bigger team and pitching new ideas to headquarters, or it may be time to appoint new leaders to the campus chapter for a fresh direction. Either way, you’ll walk away with something shiny to put on your resume, an enhanced set of skills and a network of new contacts.
Starting something new on campus can be difficult, but it is rewarding in many ways. Who knows, maybe one day your inquiry email will transform into an award-winning student publication. After all, we wouldn’t be sharing advice behind the magazine industry if it weren’t for that one whippersnapper who introduced Ed to Indiana.