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Building A Student Chapter: Tips & Tricks

Thursday, April 08, 2010   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Elias G. Sahyouni
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As the president of the Student Chapter of AITP at Eastern Illinois University (EIU), I have been able to work with a club of almost 50 members. Throughout the year, I work with a faculty advisor and an 8 member executive board to plan and coordinate the activities of the Student Chapter. Given my year of experiences as the president, I'd like to share what has "worked" regarding the success of our club.

First, is the organization of our Chapter executive board: President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, Student Representative, Speaker/Workshop Chair, Fundraising Chair, and a Website Chair. This structure is mentioned first because delegation of responsibility is very important. It is not possible to have one person perform all the activities necessary to be successful. The more that is delegated, the better off the chapter will be.

At EIU, we have found the keys to success include (but are not limited to): have an offering to give the members - something they wouldn't get without a membership in your club. This could be exclusive networking, workshops, potential jobs/internships, tours, and professional development. If you, as a chapter leader, can guarantee 1-on-1 time with recruiters, college students will find that as the #1 selling point. After all, students are looking for jobs and internships in the first place!

In addition to having fun, your chapter should be involved in philanthropy. What does that mean? VOLUNTEER! As IT professionals, your club will have the opportunity to build websites for other clubs, student groups, organizations, and even outside entities! Don't forget about tutoring! Leverage the talents of your members to benefit your respective schools. Not only is it a "good idea", but it will also make your club look good!

Next, I encourage your chapter to be diverse. Be open to all majors if possible, make sure events appeal to all "types" of members and ALWAYS, ALWAYS ask for member input. It is the members' club, so their input and ideas are critical to the success of the Chapter.

Finally, PLAN PLAN PLAN! Create Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the person that will be taking your Executive spot next. A binder/digital folder with materials will be greatly beneficial. Include a sketched-out calendar for next year to help the new executive board know when "things" should be happening.

How can you get started? Find out where opportunities exist. Build relationships with local companies (will lead to getting recruiters tapping into your Chapter's IT Resources). A good place to start is Alumni, Friends, Family, and Faculty. "Someone always knows someone!" Lastly, continually recruit new members. Talk to faculty to see if you can briefly go into classrooms and explain what your AITP Chapter does.

By having an offering to your members, being diverse, giving back to the community, and planning, your club can be as successful as you wish!

Click here for a PowerPoint presentation.

The PowerPoint is also available at the AITP web portal's promotion page, under Student Promotion Materials. Click here.

-Elias Sahyouni, Eastern Illinois University, AITP Student Chapter President

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