Whether you’re in high school or college, getting involved as an underclassman can be not only intimidating, but also challenging.
You’re constantly told to get involved, but then when you try to apply for a leadership position, you hear that you’re too young. When you try to apply for an internship, you see that it’s only open to juniors, seniors, and graduates.
Though getting involved at a young age can be daunting, it is definitely not impossible. Use these tips next time you’re feeling discouraged.
1. Speak up at meetings
If you’re interested in having a leadership position in a club, go to the meetings and speak up. If you show people how dedicated you are, they’re not going to pay much attention to your age. Being passionate and committed is more important than being a junior or senior, and many people will see that when you share your amazing ideas.
2. Make connections
Connections truly are so important when it comes to getting a job or leadership position. If you’re interested in an internship, an organization, or a leadership role, talk to someone who is involved or who has been involved before. Ask them questions and express your interest. This will show that you’re serious about getting involved, and this person will be likely to make sure other people know that.
3. Volunteer to help
If an organization needs volunteers and you have the time, step us and volunteer your time to help. If you’re the person who always seems to be willing to help, people will start to take notice. At the same time, know when to say “no” if you’re simply too busy. You don’t want to take on too much and not be able to complete high quality work.
4. Start small
You often want to dive into opportunities right away, which is great. But sometimes, you have to start small, and that’s okay. You have to start somewhere. Don’t disregard joining something just because you can’t immediately have the role you want; work your way up and show people how awesome you are. Keep dreaming big, but know that sometimes you have to take several steps to reach those big dreams.
5. Apply apply apply
Don’t make a weak excuse as to why you can’t run for a leadership position. Don’t think that you’re “too young” to be selected. If you don’t apply, try out, or run, you won’t get the position. If you do apply, you might not get it, but you might. You’ll probably regret not trying, but you won’t regret trying.
6. Break the rules sometimes
A lot of applications say that opportunities are only available to upperclassmen…but that doesn’t mean that exceptions will never be made. If it’s something you’re really passionate about and you have the experience, take a chance. Your application might be ignored. Or it might not be. Sometimes, being young is impressive, even if it often seems like a disadvantage.
7. Embrace your age
Sometimes, being young and having experience has its advantages. Instead of trying to hide your age, embrace it. Don’t think, “I’m only a freshman.” Instead, think, “I’m a freshman and I’m passionate and I’ve already done all of this amazing work that I love.” Instead of letting your age restrict you, let it empower you, challenge you, and push you forward.