When I was in college, I was heavily involved with a community computer group that had some college students as members and often used the college’s facilities for meetings and other events.
When I first joined the group, it was mostly related to my professional interests at the time. I knew several people already in the group and they encouraged me to attend.
The group ended up being a lot of fun. We went out for pizza for the first few meetings, then began meeting in a room on campus that had lots of tools and other items available for computer disassembly and repair. There was a lot of fun and a lot of humor, plus I learned quite a few things.
As I began to get more involved with the group, I started building friendships with other members. I eventually took charge of a “meet the public” event and, within a year or two, I found myself president of the group.
Although I stopped being involved with the group after some time (due to members moving away, my own changing responsibilities, and other factors), the group still exists today (albeit after a name change).
What did I get out of that experience?
I built multiple friendships that are still going strong today. Some of the people who were also heavily involved with the group at the time are still friends of mine. I talk to a few of them quite regularly.
Beyond that, I still occasionally bump into people who were involved with the group when I’m out and about. I have lots of connections in the community because of that group, mostly thanks to my time in leadership positions. It was those times, when I would be the person chairing a meeting or the person organizing a group, where I would get to meet new people.
I gained knowledge and leadership experience. I learned how to get people to get along with each other. I learned about some of the nuances of the management of a large community group with assets. These were valuable skills that have served me again and again in life.
I had a powerful resume item. The presence of my membership and leadership in this group on my resume helped me to secure multiple jobs after college.
Most of all, I had a lot of fun and it didn’t cost me much of anything. I spent an awful lot of evenings hanging out with friends, enjoying food together, learning about new things, and sharing experiences and ideas. None of that cost me anything beyond a few bucks kicked in a few times for membership.
I was able to enjoy some of these things due to just being a member, but stepping up to the plate as a leader really kicked all of it to a whole new level. I built more friendships, I had a more powerful line on my resume, I got to meet more people, I gained more leadership experience, and I had more evenings spent hanging out with people I liked. All of it cost me virtually nothing.
If you’re in a civic group or organization that you value and enjoy, don’t hesitate to step up when a leadership opportunity is offered. There’s a lot more value in it than you think.
This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “365 Ways to Live Cheap,” which is available at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere.