ZGAS is great. You should already know that. Besides giving you a community, it gives you great access to recruiters and professionals, a strong network, and a way to differentiate yourself on your résumé, which recruiters at Baruch regularly admit to looking specifically for.
But this post is not about WHY you would want to join ZGAS; it’s about HOW you can join ZGAS. Along with having been accepted into ZGAS myself, I was recently part of the team that screened candidates and helped choose new Board members. I have boiled down the important steps to take, the way our interview process works, and what almost anybody could do to get into ZGAS. Many of the following suggestions can be applied to other organizations as well.
1st stage: The General Meeting and volunteering
The first step to obtaining membership in ZGAS is to attend the general meeting at the beginning of the semester, which, though optional, is recommended. Next, learn about the position, like who you will report to and the reality of the position’s duties. Surprisingly, many candidates do not know what the position actually entails; either because they make assumptions based on the title or are misled by the language used to describe the responsibilities. For instance, Internal Committee (IC) of Event planning isn’t really about being an event planner; it’s closer to event support. Also, certain positions will require more commitment than others, so it’s important to get a realistic picture of the tasks you will be performing and how many hours per week you can expect to devote.
Volunteering and attending social events is a great way to stand out if you want to be on the ZGAS Board. This is not only true on paper, but in reality. When choosing candidates for Board positions, remembering a volunteer made us much more likely to interview him or her, especially if we felt he or she would be a good fit (often ascertained after working at events with the individual). Social events are another good way to make your personality known to Board members. Like any job, we'll be spending a lot of time together and therefore look for the right personality. In that vein, we notice people who carry themselves in a professional manner and are friendly and easy to relate to.
2nd stage: Résumé selection
This is usually the hardest part for candidates to get through. This semester, we received nearly 60 applications, and had to narrow it down to 15 or so candidates. There are specific minimum requirements: a 3.0 GPA and the possibility of being in ZGAS for more than two semesters (in this case, a graduation date later than May 2015). If the requirements are met, we further narrow the list by looking for grammatical errors, strange job descriptions, or a fundamental misunderstanding of the position and club.
It is helpful if you make sure your previous experiences (work and otherwise) show that you will be a good Board addition. We aren’t specifically looking for a certain amount of work experience, though more work experience generally means greater maturity, and therefore a better candidate. In evaluating technical skills, we consider any work experience (or skills) that could specifically relate to the position applied for. Most students submit a standard resume (because who wants to create a new resume for a club position?), however it certainly would be advantageous to mention experiences that relate to the position applied for. Mention something that will distinguish you from other candidates: for instance we would like to hear about your interests or unique jobs you've had, such as working as a bartender. Club and/or leadership experience is important as well, it demonstrates that you understand how small organizations work and are able to excel in such environments.
At times, we look for some specific qualities. Leadership is one of those, so being able to demonstrate you have been in positions of leadership in the past is a boon. In few cases, we look to technical skills, for instance computer skills for our IT positions or writing skills for our Editor-in-Chief positions. The rest of the positions are relatively general and do not require very specific skills; however, being able to speak and write well are helpful to any position.
Remember, at some point all business jobs/internships can start to sounds similar for those evaluating résumés. No matter how impressive your résumé is, the interests you detail can help you stand out. Think about it this way: are you more or less likely to engage with someone who has similar interests as you? For example, if you were looking for a position on the Communications Team, it wouldn’t have been a bad idea to speak to me (Vice President of Communications) or look me up and find out what I like (my profile is on the ZGAS website).
As is often the case with professional recruiting, many of the initial decisions are made based on your résumé, and as with cover letters, the answers submitted in the ZGAS application are important. In my experience, we took an interest in those candidates that knew how important it was to be selected for the position for which they applied. Not understanding how the club works, and/or having different goals or expectations often indicate you may not be a good fit. Generally, you want to give the impression, through your resume and application, that you are excited about ZGAS for a couple good reasons, for instance, wanting to help out the student body or be a part of the ZGAS community. In terms of discussing what you could bring to the position, either state how your previous work or other experience relates to the position or how you might be a useful candidate to us in this respect.
Final stage: The interview process
The last hoop candidates have to jump through is the interview process. Generally, the most important qualities to demonstrate are friendliness and enthusiasm (always smile!). Preparation is important, such as being able to show you understand the position and the club. From there, being able to explain why you want the position and how/why you can do a good job are crucial. After the interview is over be sure to have questions. Treat the interview as you would one for a job; we expect candidates to dress in traditional interview attire and conduct themselves professionally.
Candidates that present themselves well, are likeable, and show that they would be an asset to our club are chosen. Interviews are generally one of the few places you can show your personality, so if you’re not good with interviews you should present your personality to us in other places (such as the aforementioned volunteering and social events) and/or practice with GCMC. Generally speaking, organizations and people often prefer someone they do know as opposed to someone they don’t. This is why it's important to network and make your presence known.
Finally - don’t forget that thank you note! We definitely noticed those that sent one and those that didn’t. Just because this is a club doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put forth your full effort.
Remember, even if you didn’t get chosen, there’s always next semester. If somebody is dedicated enough to volunteer despite being turned down, they will very likely be admitted in the next election. So keep your chin up, there are always plenty of different ways to get involved!