How to Become a True Blue Leader

Lindsey Weaver honored for her service as the inaugural student trustee member at the Summer 2018 Board of Trustees Meeting in the Miller Education Center. Photo by J. Intintoli.

It doesn’t matter what field you want to work in, there’s one trait that employers love to see. They want their employees, from top to bottom, to have the ability to lead people. The opportunity is not always there to show those skills off, especially in the first months of employment. If you don’t already know how to lead, however, it’ll take considerably longer to reach your goals and rise through the ranks.

Luckily, you go to a school that gives ample opportunity to learn and practice good leadership skills in a safe, healthy environment where others are learning at the same time and constructive criticism is easy to find.

Don’t be afraid to look for unconventional ways to brush up your leadership skills. It’s not always about having a title and being in charge of certain things or people for an organization or company. Looking for opportunities in which you can simply help others can help you with a crucial and often overlooked aspect of being a leader. Setting aside your time to help someone else reach their goal with no incentive on your end can be seen as the highest level of leadership.

In this article, we’ll dive into three main types of opportunities available to you to serve as a leader on campus. Anyone can take part in any of these, so you can’t possibly say “I’ve never had the opportunity to lead” in a future job interview.

Be the face of MTSU

MTSU is always looking for great representatives of the university to lead initiatives and programs that help current students and recruit future students. I may get fired for saying this (in which case, I hope you’ve enjoyed my articles), but it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there is no better tool for attracting new students than highlighting the experiences of current students.

One way to represent the university in a large spotlight is to become a Blue Elite tour guide or MTSU Student Ambassador. People in these roles are responsible for being the primary  faces visitors remember from a visit to MTSU’s campus. Every step you take and every word that comes out of your mouth can be taken as a direct representation of the university. While this may sound intimidating, it is a great honor and having something like this on your resume can show at a glance that you know how to be a leader and carry yourself professionally.

Another group that represents MTSU on a larger platform than most is the Student Government Association. More specifically, it represents the student body by voicing their needs to university officials via the SGA Senate. Anyone can run for a Senate seat or apply for a vacant seat during the school year and debate the future of MTSU from the perspective of a large and diverse student body. There are also other leadership roles available to students through SGA, from serving on the Traffic Court hearing appeals on parking citations, all the way to potentially serving as President of the student body.

Join or start a Student Organization

There are hundreds of Student Organizations on campus, so finding one that fits your style is easy. Every one of these groups is led entirely by students, presenting the perfect opportunity to work your way into a leadership role. If you join a group and contribute to its growth and exhibit the characteristics of a leader, then you could find yourself making some of the big decisions that these organizations face, including funding, reserving spaces to meet, and maintaining a strong line of communication between members of the group its leaders.

You could also take an easy path to leadership and create a Student Organization. Do you and a few friends have an interest in something that doesn’t already have a group formed? Form it yourself! This is an excellent way to lead, because as the group grows, you will always be remembered for creating the foundation of a successful group. You also are in charge of making a lot of decisions that a lot of other leaders don’t need to worry about! While it may be a major chore attracting initial interest and creating the initial set of rules, it can definitely be a rewarding experience.

Get involved in the community

In this spring 2018 photo, members of the MTSU Asian Student Association and other volunteers pause for a photo during a Rutherford County Area Habitat for Humanity project. (Submitted photo)

In this spring 2018 photo, members of the MTSU Asian Student Association and other volunteers pause for a photo during a Rutherford County Area Habitat for Humanity project. (Submitted photo)

As I mentioned earlier, it doesn’t take a special title to show off your ability to lead. There are year-round opportunities on campus to help people in many different ways. It may take a lot of time and you may or may not get a lot out of what you’re doing, but doesn’t helping people just make you feel good?

One of the most glaring ways you can give back to your peers and campus community through academics is by offering up your time and passion as a tutor.  MTSU offers an AMAZING, FREE tutoring service , and tutors are paid for their knowledge and commitment to helping students be the best they can be. If you did really well in a class and believe you could teach it to someone else, then this could be the perfect opportunity to lead different types of people. If a student decides they need to go tutoring, they likely are struggling to pick up the subject in the way their professor presents it. You need to show patience and discover new ways to help get content into each students’ unique brain.

There are also a ton of more volunteer-oriented events and programs for you to get involved with. For example, SGA puts on “The BIG Event” annually, giving back to the community by providing volunteers for various projects in our area. Site leaders are selected from an application process, and their jobs present a great hands-on experience for leaders. Hundreds of students volunteer for the event, so the workload and skills required for this one-day event is worth putting on a resume.

Like I said earlier, there is no excuse to not have leadership experience once you leave college. Whether it is leading the progress of an organization or coordinating volunteers for a community project, you can make a difference… which is really what leadership about. Making a difference through effective communication, organization, and hard work.

Featured photo by J. Intintoli.