Georgetown University’s pre-professional clubs, a hallmark of extracurricular life, are widely appealing to students because they simulate fields students would want to establish careers in, such as training members, promoting professional development and maintaining industry relationships. Pre-professional clubs, however, can be quite exclusive, rejecting many applicants each cycle. For example, Hilltop Consultants is a student-run organization that consults for nonprofits and enterprises. It has an acceptance rate of less than 4%.
For Key Foster (COL ’24), the focus on pre-professional clubs at Georgetown can be stressful given their exclusivity.
“A lot of students definitely feel pressure to join pre-professional orgs, especially if they’re going down the consulting or business routes,” Foster wrote to The Hoya.
Career-oriented organizations, with their exclusive acceptance rates and competitive environments, are not the only ways to develop important communication, analytical and managerial skills for the postgraduate professional world. Recreational and identity-based clubs offer similar skills to pre-professional clubs. The Editorial Board encourages the student body to actively pursue opportunities that foster career-oriented skills like leadership, management and communication through involvement in these organizations.
Georgetown sponsors hundreds of recreational clubs, from dance teams to the Georgetown Running Club to identity- and culture-based clubs like the South Asian Society, many of which are open to all students. Students join interest-based clubs as a form of community building or to pursue a hobby. Although not advertised as traditionally professional clubs, these communities still allow students to develop soft skills.
Prisha Punjabi (COL ’25), a dance captain of Guzaarish, Georgetown’s competitive Bollywood dance team, said she is often surprised by the skills students can build through organizations not typically considered pre-professional.
“Even though Guzaarish wouldn’t directly help me with my career, it does improve collaboration and teamwork. As captain, my leadership and management skills have definitely improved,” Punjabi said in an interview with The Hoya.
Last Friday, Guzaarish performed as one of two acts at Vice President Kamala Harris’s Diwali party for a crowd of influential figures in politics, entertainment and culture.
“It was such an amazing opportunity that I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise,” Punjabi said.
For other students, these clubs offer unconventional talking points for job interviews. Ali Lehman (COL ’24), the co-president and cofounder of Survivor Georgetown, an organization which emulates the outdoor challenge-based reality TV show Survivor, said that her membership has had unexpected professional benefits.
“Being in a club like Survivor is amazing because it’s a great break from the craziness of Georgetown and perfect for meeting people with a common interest,” Lehman wrote to The Hoya. “Also, I’ve literally not had a job interview where the first question was not about the club.”
Many clubs also host events and fundraisers that are entirely student run, presenting a firsthand opportunity for students to implement an event at this scale. For instance, the South Asian Society hosts Rangila, an annual charity dance showcase. Last Spring, nearly 350 performers performed in two shows for a sold-out Gaston Hall, raising 20,000 dollars for Bethesda-based charity Edu-GIRLS.
The student-run performance presented an opportunity for students like Sanaa Mehta (SFS ’25) to gain important skills by organizing and facilitating the event this Fall.
“In terms of professional skills, as Philanthropy Chair, I unexpectedly learned the intricate balancing act between marketing/spreading awareness about our philanthropy partner but also letting their voice and needs speak for themselves,” Mehta wrote to The Hoya. “Contrary to what one would assume at face value, I think the ‘partnership and collaborative’ aspect is a more prevalent skill than ‘fundraising’ (brainstorming and event-organizing).”
It is important for students pursuing any professional endeavors to also dedicate time to recreational clubs, which can have important mental health benefits. Actively pursuing hobbies can lead to lower levels of depression. Anaya Mehta (COL ’25), a member of the Board Games Club and the Hiking Club, said her involvement in these clubs has offered a break from the stresses of college life.
“The Hiking Club is a great way of talking to one another, sharing food, stories, cultures, and backgrounds and just getting to know seven other people on campus which you would have never met otherwise,” Mehta told The Hoya. “So I just feel like it’s beneficial to be part of a non-professional club and has definitely improved my experience at Georgetown and helped me settle in and find my community.”
Georgetown students should use their time in college to explore opportunities that provide untraditional paths to professional development while doing something that they enjoy. In a career-driven environment, applying for leadership positions, “networking” with other members, attending events or just using the time to relax from recruiting is essential for making the most out of any club experience. Whether a club promotes investment banking or boba tea, it is crucial that students seek professional growth beyond the handful of clubs that explicitly advertise it.
The Hoya’s Editorial Board is composed of six students and is chaired by the opinion editors. Editorials reflect only the beliefs of a majority of the board and are not representative of The Hoya or any individual member of the board.