Student Leader Stories
Getting Involved Pays Off
Find out how participating in extracurricular activities can help secure a job post-graduation
Ryan McNeil, fourth year Bachelor of Business Administration student
Meet Ryan McNeil. Ryan is a fourth year Bachelor of Business Administration student who is majoring in accounting. He is also an instructor at Bow Valley College, a participant in many extracurricular activities on campus, and has a full-time job lined up post-graduation. For this feature, I sat down with Ryan to learn more about his leadership journey and the factors that contributed to, and will continue to influence, his current and future success.
Ryan found his first semester of university to be a lonely experience. His post-secondary routine consisted mainly of attending class and then immediately commuting home. Looking for a chance to meet some new people, Ryan’s interest was piqued during the Peer Learning Program’s recruitment drive for Learning Peers. What was then a convenient opportunity to earn some money quickly turned into something more.
It didn’t take long for Ryan to discover that MRU offers many different involvement opportunities. With involvement came a more enjoyable university experience and renewed sense of purpose. Along with his involvement in the Peer Learning Program, Ryan was a member of the Bissett Accounting Students’ Society and the executive of an online computer gaming club that arranged tournaments across North America. He also took part in a variety of other campus activities and could often be found at MRU Rec’s climbing wall during his first few years on campus.
Ryan credits his extracurricular involvement at MRU as being instrumental to helping him gain the skills necessary to succeed in his future career. He noted that “Employers want more than a high GPA,” and are looking for meaningful extracurricular engagement. For example, Ryan’s experience as a Learning Peer helped him land a part-time job as an Accounting Lab Instructor at Bow Valley College. They were impressed with the teamwork, communication, problem-solving and leadership skills he built while helping his peers. Furthermore, Ryan mentioned that the growth he experienced as a Learning Peer was invaluable preparation for the working world. Learning to adjust to different needs, successfully build rapport with a team, actively engage others in a shared vision, and accept, then act on, feedback, helped him become a stronger leader and gain the confidence to take on new challenges.
Based on his experiences, Ryan would recommend the following to students who are looking to get involved:
Choose extracurricular activities that support your future goals.
Start by joining something you’re interested in. From there, you can always take on more of a leadership role in the community.
Don’t wait until your final semester as a student to join a club.
Reflecting on his experience at MRU, Ryan’s only regret was not getting involved earlier. As he looks forward to starting his career at a top accounting firm in September, he hopes that other students will benefit as much as he did from engaging in campus leadership opportunities.
Feb. 8, 2018 - Courtenay Smart
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