Clubs are an essential part of the business school experience, and at Columbia Business School they are essential to getting outside of your bubble.
For the most part, you are going to spend a lot of time with your cluster. You spend an endless amount of time with them during orientation, you take all of your core classes together, and your pre happy hour time is generally spent with your cluster. Thus, in order to get outside the bubble that is your 65-70 clustermates, clubs are the most efficient way to see and meet people that you don’t otherwise see as part of your everyday schedule.
Columbia has a certain way of handling their clubs. I don’t know if it’s unique or not because I haven’t been involved with any other MBA programs, but Columbia’s way of administering clubs works just fine…for the most part.
During your second week of business school, Uris Hall hosts “Association Day,” in which every club/organization in the school sets up a table throughout the building and actively recruits each new student to sign up for their club. On this day, you are not required to make any type of commitment, instead, you just write your name down to receive future emails from the club.
Among the emails you will receive will be one directing you to officially sign up (i.e., pay) for the respective club. There is a site on the business school’s domain where you will see a list of every club in the school, and you can check them off one by one. Some are free, like the Small Business Consulting Program and the Harlem Tutorial Program, both of which I’m in. Obviously, those are clubs where you are helping outside entities, so there’s no reason to have to pay anything. For other clubs, like the Media Management Association (MMA) and Marketing Club, you do have to pay dues, since that money goes to events with lunches, drinks subsidizing other outside activities.
Once you sign up, you should be on a list serve for that particular club. Each club varies in the amount of interaction and events it has with its constituents. The Midwest club doesn’t have as many events as the MMA, but it also don’t cost as much and probably isn’t as important to you if you’re interested in a career in media.
As for what type of events happen, it definitely ranges. The MMA is really only going to have lunches, breakfasts, panels and a conference or two for you to go to. I’m not sure why I say “only,” because the club gives you all you need to network within your industry. Hwoever, in comparison to the Outdoor Adventure Club, in which you will go biking, skydiving and hiking, your range of activities is a lot bigger (and better).
Anyway, I’m just getting started with my club experience here at Columbia Business School. I’ve met a lot of people through the entrepreneurial club, the MMA club, Follies, the Harlem Tutorial Prep organization and the Small Business Consulting Program. Unfortunately, I have not gotten to be as involved with club leadership as I would have liked to have been, and I think that’s because I came in during the January-term. This is something that some clubs have to address, as I think January-Term entrants are at a bit of a disadvantage in going for leadership positions at the end of the semester, as some clubs offer J-term students little or no opportunity to be active participants within the club and meet other people from it. For example, I don’t believe that the MMA has had a mixer inviting all of its members out since I’ve been here. They had scheduled one, but it got cancelled.
That’s something I hope to address while I’m at Columbia, and so hopefully, J-Term students entering next year won’t feel the same way.