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The Hoya Way to Club Culture & Pre-Professionalism

By Annika Lin COL’ 24

If you’re new to Georgetown, or curious about Georgetown’s clubs and pre-professional culture, this article is for you. With hundreds of clubs at Georgetown (learn more via Georgetown Campus Groups here), how do you know which ones to join? How many should you join? And, if you’ve heard of Gtown’s club culture described as “toxic” or “exclusive,” why would you join, and how?

1) Why should you join clubs?

“Clubs do not make or break careers nor do they make or break your Georgetown experience. They merely represent ways of engaging with the Georgetown community. Finding clubs you enjoy is about more than identifying clubs you think will help you after college. It's about identifying the communities you enjoy and putting yourself out there, whilst recognizing that a club rejection is not a rejection of you” (Emily Hardy, SFS’ 22).

Clubs allow you to connect with those who share similar interests or backgrounds as you. On Campus Groups, there are multiple categories ranging from cultural to service/social justice to pre-professional. It’s up to you to figure out which interests you want to pursue, but I can guarantee that you will make some of your best friends through your exploration.

2) Which clubs to join, and how many?

As underclassmen, take your time to explore as many clubs as you want. Emily Hardy, Chair of International Relations Club recommends finding a balance between application based clubs and those with open membership. Typically, upperclassmen will stick with one to three clubs so they can take on more leadership roles.

I asked four upperclassmen to share their perspectives on clubs and pre-professionalism. While their advice may sound school-specific, most apply across the board.

“I would say apply to clubs that are interesting to you, even if you don’t know a ton about them. And don't take a club rejection personally - the selection process is unnecessarily competitive and it’s hard to know what they are looking for. Once you’re into a couple clubs, don’t be afraid to quit. Stay in the clubs where you love the people and you love the activity!” (Arjun Ravi, COL’ 22).

“Being a member of these clubs means that you are placing your time and energy into these small passions which make Georgetown a home to a diverse community that aims at empowering all voices and interests. Within the business school, there are amazing opportunities to learn new skills and explore old ones that may need some honing. I believe that this is what makes Georgetown such a special place because everyone wants to succeed and that always makes you want to be better. Don't be afraid to start something new and to challenge yourself in a way that makes the unknown feel like something fun, amazing, and worth it” (Carlos Carcamo, MSB’ 23).

“I think for the NHS especially there are so many pre-professional clubs that aren’t competitive/don’t cut people, like project lighthouse or GUOPS. I also think that there’s nothing wrong with being in non-professional clubs and in some cases, those can enhance your applications to things like medical schools since they like to see that you’re more than just a pre-med student. When it comes to getting involved in pre-professional non-club activities like research, I’d say don’t be afraid of emailing your professors and colloquium teachers to ask for help! That’s how I got involved in research” (Elena Evans, NHS’ 22).

“Georgetown does have a stressful club culture, especially for students in the MSB. When I joined GUSIF [Student Investment Fund] my sophomore year, only 20 kids got in out of 250+ applicants. My suggestion to anyone worried would be to simply take your time–I did not apply to selective clubs until my sophomore year because I did not know if they truly intrigued me. Find yourself and make the decision from there, rather than joining because of hearsay(Tobi Ogunniyi, SFS’ 22).

3) How do you get in?

It’s frustrating: you’ve applied to colleges, been accepted to Georgetown, and now you need to apply to clubs again. Some of them have even lower rates of acceptance than Georgetown itself, hence the “exclusivity.” Plus, if you’re applying to consulting/finance clubs, you might be teased for “selling out” or becoming an “MSBro” or “MSBitch.”

First of all, don’t be deterred by the low acceptance rate. Thinking about the number of people you have to “beat” does you no good. If you can imagine yourself being happy in the club, then go for it. If anything, the club's written application and interview(s) prepare you for future job applications. Personally, I found job interviews much easier after interviewing for so many clubs. The essays and interviews force you to reflect on yourself, and I often walk away with a better understanding of myself.

There are plenty of tips out there for answering written and interview prompts. I recommend using your college essays to help you with your written app. During interviews, be sure you can elaborate on why you specifically want to be in that club and how you would contribute.

Don’t be deterred by the low acceptance rate. Thinking about the number of people you have to “beat” does you no good.

4) Remarks on Toxic Club Culture

As we start school this fall on campus, we have an opportunity to address club toxicity. Toxic club culture is perpetrated both by beliefs that a club rejection/acceptance affects our self-worth and by assumptions that those who pursue finance/consulting clubs are inherently self-centered. To quote Ruut Veenhoven, “The quality of a society is more important than your place in that society.” Avoid making assumptions about others based on which clubs they are in. Our diverse identities and backgrounds will push and pull us in different directions. There are factors beyond our control: whether we had access to certain resources and experiences that will help lower or increase barriers to entering clubs. Remind yourself that you are more capable than you think, but stay humble.

5) Next Steps

July to early August: reflect upon what you want to get out of your college experience. Keeping in mind your interests and goals, explore Georgetown Campus Groups here and write down a few open-membership and/or selective clubs that you’re drawn to and why you’re interested in joining.

Mid-August to September: get a vibe check by engaging with club members at CAB Fair aka Clubs Fair. Ask about the club’s culture and values, go to informational meetings if offered, and get members’ contact info if you want to follow up with more questions. As you apply to clubs, remember that your career does not depend on you getting in or not. There will be many more opportunities in the future, so focus on doing your best. In Dr. Kraybill’s words, let your light shine, but not in the eyes of other people.


Annika Lin is a sophomore in the College majoring in Economics. She is involved in HoyAlytics, Carroll Round Steering Committee, and Philodemic Society. Feel free to reach out to her on IG @annikalin9 or comment below!

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