Student Leadership Positions – College

Leadership is a critical aspect of every organization. A leader often acts as a visionary setting the direction of a company, club, or organization.

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader

John Quincy Adams

Here we will focus on the development of leadership skills while in college. As a student in a college setting, there is no better time to develop your leadership skills. There are many opportunities to take advantage of in college. Every organization from clubs, athletic teams, and fraternity and sororities need student leaders.

Many of the stories will be taken from my leadership experience in college serving on the Cal Poly Orfalea College of Business Accounting Club (CPAC) board for two years. That being said there are many aspects of leadership that transition between organizations and groups.

Summer Leadership Programs

Each summer as an accounting student you have the opportunity to take advantage of leadership conferences or summer leadership programs (SLPs). These conferences are held by the Big 4 accounting firms, Deloitte, EY, PwC, and KPMG, as well as many mid-tier and local firms. SLPs offer you the chance to develop your leadership skills while learning about public accounting and growing your professional network.

Running for a Club Leadership Position

Student organizations will have various ways of filling their executive boards. Some employ candidate interviews while others allow members vote on who they would like to represent them. Other student organizations have some combination of a candidate screening or interview process followed by their members voting for the final executive board.

Executive Board LeadershipThe Cal Poly Accounting Club switched in 2016 from a voting process to a combination of voting and interview process. As the accounting club continued to grow in size and complexity the ability to adequately serve members guided us to increasing board and faculty oversight in the process to ensure high-quality candidates. There are many sides to this argument and the application and interview process has both pros and cons.

More information about the CPAC election process is available here.

Executive Board Transition Meetings

After you have successful obtained a leadership role the next important thing to think about is transitioning between the old and new board. The transition period is important to ensure the ongoing success of the club. The old boar will have large knowledge base that needs to be passed down to the future board. Sometimes this can seem difficult as old board members are reaching the end of their tenure but this is one of the most important aspects of continued success. There is so much to consider from reassigning club contacts with the school, passing down club email accounts and other historical data and so much more.

Club Leadership Structure

A club’s leadership structure is normally set out in the bylaws. The bylaws outline the purpose, structure, and limits of the organization. Essentially, the bylaws provide a foundation for the student organization that helps guide the executive board and its members.

There is no perfect leadership structure for a student organization. The best structure is largely a matter of preference and practicality.

The Cal Poly Accounting Club employed a complex board structure that allowed more members to become involved while also distributing the workload. This distribution also allowed the club to create Accounting Committees of Excellence (ACE) and provide additional resources to accounting students within the Orfalea College of Business (OCOB).

Executive Board Roles and Responsibilities

The role of the board