How a Stats class changed my life
I was a second-year university student, nearing the end of my first year at the Asper School of Business. I was sitting beside a new friend and fellow Asper student, Jeff, in a Stats I class. I was probably pretty lost on the content, and planning to attend a final exam prep seminar in place of class lectures, so we got to talking about the current recruiting session for CSA, the Commerce Students’ Association.
Jeff: “Are you applying for any CSA positions?”
Me: “I’m on the first year committee but I don’t think student council is for me. I don’t really know anyone on CSA. It seems intimidating and I’m not sure what role I’d apply for.”
Jeff: “I know you have a lot of experience with United Way and other charity organizations. Why don’t you apply to run Shinerama?”
We spoke about it a bit longer, and by the end of that class I had decided to check it out. I didn’t think student council was for me, and when I looked at the current executive, they all seemed so confident, smart and outgoing. I just didn’t think I could hack it.
Long story short, I ended up applying, interviewing and getting the role of Shinerama Coordinator. My first year on CSA (my third at the U of M) turned out to be one of my best. My time with the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation was educational and inspirational, and I felt like I was making a good impact on the community. I also made a lot of close friends on the council through events such as the annual retreat (camping at West Hawk Lake), socials, and monthly council meetings. The next year, I became Director of Student Services, and in my last year of school I was CSA President.
I met a lot of my closest friends in those years (as evidenced by the 14 Asper alumni at my recent wedding!), and networking with the business community led me to my career. The skills and experiences I gained from serving in the CSA were more valuable than anything I learned in a classroom. I know that’s a cliché, but now, in my third year as an entrepreneur, managing a $500K CSA budget and 40+ volunteer council was infinitely more helpful than memorizing terms from a textbook or understanding the Normal Distribution. I’m so happy I had that conversation with my friend Jeff in Stats class.
I would encourage everyone to get out of their comfort zone and get more involved in their school. Whether it’s through student council, JDC West, or a student group, at the very least it will give you a great experience to talk about at a job interview.
At best, it’ll change your life.
Danielle Rombough [BComm(Hons)/06] is co-owner of Arnold Tutoring, along with her brother Mike Arnold [BComm(Hons)/09]. For more about the success story of this brother-sister team, see the Asper Alumni section on page 22 of our annual newsletter, Update.