March 21, 2023
By: David Huang
(title parodying Mandy Catron’s NYT article “To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This” in 2015 and Yotam Ottolenghi 2023 sequel “To Fall in Love With Cabbage, Do This”)
If you’ve attended New York University for any reasonable amount of time, you’ll probably know of the numerous pre-professional clubs present here, each with its own topic or focus, ranging from expanding career interests to fostering a community. You reading this Marketing Society blog means you’re interacting with one right now. Every day, it feels like we’re surrounded by the constant swirl of action involving these organizations. But how do they become so well known – and how are we influenced by their decisions?
If only my high school had these classrooms. Courtesy of David Huang
How They Impact Us
The first time you heard of any of these clubs probably wasn’t through a friend or a poster on the wall. Rather, it likely popped up in your NYU email inbox. Carefully crafted by the Inter-Club Council, the weekly undergraduate newsletter highlights the details of each club’s events for the week. We all need to check our emails at some point or another (even if it’s just to delete an NYU Bookstore spam email), and it almost becomes the universal first exposure to the clubs at NYU. If you follow the NYU ICC or another club’s Instagram and related social media, you’re likely bombarded by the events, people, and goals of these organizations. With our social and professional lives doggedly tied to what we see and consume through the Internet, it becomes almost impossible to avoid the constant streams of information these clubs output onto the web.
However, our beloved clubs don’t create online media for fun – it’s to get you involved in what they actually do. While each club has its own area of expertise, they all share similar goals and themes through their weekly or special meetings. They want to educate students on what they’re passionate about through workshops, networking events, and other programs. They help people who are unsure or insecure find a community of friends they can rely on, guiding them along their college and career journeys. These events draw interested people to go to meetings, bolstering their attendance (which also gets them more funding) while connecting different people who share similar interests. No doubt you’ve probably been to at least one club meeting and learned something from it.
Why this Matters
But there is no greater allure than reputation and prestige. Kevin Choi discussed this very idea with college marketing last year in his phenomenal post “College Marketing: Rankings, Prestige, and Social Media.” We care about how others view us, and we care about whether the communities and groups we belong to are valid and respected in the eyes of others and ourselves. When we applied to NYU, I’m sure the school’s prestige was at least one consideration when typing out that Why NYU essay, and we brought this idea to college. Many clubs are known for their notoriously competitive applications and interviews, where only select individuals can get into such programs. And yet so many of us still apply because the difficulty of getting in and the fame – if not infamy – of these organizations become the metric that we use to gauge their value and importance.
In 1962, President Jack Kennedy gave a speech at Rice Stadium, saying:
“We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because [it is] easy, but because [it is] hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too.”
Doesn’t that sound like many of us? We choose to apply to certain clubs because it is hard; because it is a challenge that sets us apart from others.
I think many of us become caught in this chase for prestige and success, even outside of clubs. We want to get the best job, know the most people, or get the highest grades. We want to be seen as smart, capable, successful, and often better than our peers. But sometimes, when I’m sitting at my desk in Rubin Hall, staying up until 3 AM to finish an assignment, a thought always comes to my mind – why am I so stressed about this? I’m only here for another three years.
Courtesy of Forbes
I recently returned to my hometown and sat in my room, the window slightly ajar. As the cool spring breeze blew through the room I stayed in for four long years of high school, a wave of nostalgia washed over me. Less than a year ago, I was sitting in this very room as senior year passed me by. Back then, I had my own concerns, worries, and interests, many of which seem infinitely minuscule compared to the fears and problems I face today. But for my high school self, they seemed just as daunting as what I experience now. And in three years, when I graduate at Yankee Stadium on a hot summer day, I won’t even blink twice at the woes and worries of today.
We all come to college to get a degree, and that’s what we should achieve on graduation day, whenever that is for you. But for many of us, it’s all too easy to drink the proverbial Kool-Aid and become caught up in an endless pursuit of success and prestige.
I think Kennedy said it best. We choose to go to the moon, sure, and we did, only seven short years after his speech. But he emphasized that we also choose to do other things, and those other challenges are ones we are also unwilling to postpone and also intend to win. If all you choose to do is stay in your dorm and work for the prestige you see in your clubs and jobs and classes – and that’s the only thing that makes you happy – then you’re more than welcome to continue doing so. But for many of us, there’s more to the college experience and more to our lives as students and young adults entering an often dark and tumultuous period of our lives than these symbols of rank in our society, and we should consider those other challenges, goals, and aspirations we have, too.
So maybe start a hobby you’ve always wanted to start. Work toward a New Year’s Resolution (if anybody still does that anymore). Connect with an old friend. What that other challenge and goal become is up to you.
At this point in our lives, many challenges we face or aspirations we have are difficult. Yet we act on those issues because they are difficult and affect who we are. They become how we grow and develop as individuals while allowing us best to understand who we are as people.
So, as I conclude this article, I think the message I’m trying to get across is that sometimes, it’s important to step back and chase goals and dreams you aren’t normally focused on. After all, we’re only here at college for so long, and many of the fears and concerns we have now will be nothing but a minor memory when we leave.
And maybe, just maybe, you should join a club here.
David Huang is a freshman studying finance and management at NYU Stern with a minor in computer science. In his free time, he loves to explore new places, make films, and follow world events.