Leadership and Where to Find It

When we arrive at college, it seems like the opportunities are endless. Don’t get me wrong, they are definitely nearly endless, but sometimes figuring out where to start can feel overwhelming. College is an incredible space to become a leader. It allows you to expand and refine your skills and strengths, and mold you into the leader you’re destined to be.

However, in order to become a leader, there needs to be people to lead. Leading doesn’t necessarily mean you have to establish a brand new club, or become student body president. Leading also doesn’t mean you’re “in charge” of others. Leaders don’t just speak, they listen too. Leadership is a combination of collaboration, responsiveness, creativity, and many other skills that we are all capable of and use on a daily basis. Leadership doesn’t have to be defined by position titles, but by the actions you take to develop your skills.

So, how can you become a leader on campus? There’s no clean-cut answer, but here’s some starting points that have helped me.

You’ve heard it many times before, but join Registered Student Organizations (RSO’s) and other organizations

The odds of you holding a leadership title within an organization right away is probably slim, but like I said before, it’s not all about the title. You can develop your leadership skills by simply being present and involved in an organization. When I say “be present”, I don’t just mean attend all the meetings. Physical presence differs from mental presence. Instead of attending a meeting just so you can say you attend meetings, be mindful of your role in the organization and how you can contribute to conversations and initiatives. Share your ideas and give feedback to other people.

If someone is working on something, ask them how you can support them with their project. You could learn from this person, and create something meaningful with them in the process. You don’t need a leadership title in order to make waves!

Check out involvement opportunities within your major

I’m a communication (CMN) major, and I’m really passionate about the program and what it has to offer. I admire the professors and how much they care about their students. I wanted to get more involved, but wasn’t quite sure how. While exploring the department’s website, I came across Communication Leaders. The page described the position as an opportunity to be an ambassador for the program. Right away, I knew this could be perfect for me. I’m passionate about the department, I perform well in communication courses, and have strong relationships with the professors and advisors. I applied, and I was accepted as a Communication Leader!

Now, I’m working on projects with other CMN students on behalf of the department. Opportunities like this are a great way for you to develop leadership skills while also supplementing the training you gain from your major. These opportunities could be just a click away; it’s worth looking into.

Opportunities could present themselves in unexpected ways

I’m writing this blog now because I pursued an opportunity as an intern. Unfortunately, I was not offered the position, but was invited to be a blogger instead! It wasn’t a position that I was aware of, but isn’t that the beauty of it? There are opportunities to improve yourself around every corner. Now, I’m able to expand my role as a leader on campus by writing blogs that will hopefully influence an audience (you!).

Apply to that leadership position, because even if you don’t make it, another opportunity may be born from it. As long as you apply yourself, the opportunities will never end. Put yourself out there, have meaningful conversations, collaborate, listen, apply your strengths and build from weaknesses, and BAM! You’re a leader, and you won’t need a label to prove it.


Class of 2022
Hi everybody! I'm a Communication major and Public Relations minor here at UIUC, and I'm from Palos Park, IL. As a senior, I'm so excited to blog about the great memories I've had as an Illini so far. I hope that my experiences can give a glimpse into UIUC's unmatched campus life and academics. When not studying, you can usually catch me drinking my Dunkin' on the quad or playing volleyball at the ARC!

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