I’ve always surrounded myself with strong, powerful women of all different backgrounds. In elementary school, I joined a book club and Girl Scouts. In high school, I took a leap of faith and joined my school’s dance team. During my four years of college, I joined a plethora of organizations catered to women, including the first Black Greek letter organization for women of color: Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
Being involved with communities of strong, like-minded women has had a profound impact on my growth as a person and impact as a citizen. Since moving to New York City, I’ve been busy with adjusting to the process of “adulting,” but I’m still bracing myself for when life settles down. A huge part of my settling process will include getting involved in group organizations and opportunities to connect with new people. Here are some of those I’ve joined in the past:
I am a public relations girl at heart, so during my first year of college, I joined the Carolina Association of Black Journalists and the Public Relations Student Society of America. Being a member during my undergraduate career connected me with the most talented, passionate people I’ve ever met. Both organizations were primarily female, so it was great being able to work alongside and grow with people of a similar background.
Not only do professional organizations make friendships easy; they also offer the benefits of job opportunities, networking events, and skills trainings.. Some organizations and associations cost money, but investing in your career by becoming a member is well worth it in the long run. This JobStars.com article includes a list of professional organizations. If one doesn’t exist for your profession, don’t be afraid to take to social media and begin an organization of your own.
Throughout my life, my parents ingrained in me the value of public service. Since elementary school, I’ve loved finding new and innovative ways to serve my community. I’ve volunteered with Samaritan’s Feet , Girl Scouts of America , Girls on the Run and many other community organizations. The feeling of bonding with other people while helping underserved populations is indescribable. Nothing connects people like a common goal or cause, and I’m looking forward to finding opportunities to connect with my community through service. I’ve always heard about people volunteering with Boys & Girls Club of America , so within the next few months, I plan to start volunteering with a local chapter! Working with youth is so exciting for me, and I’m looking forward to serving as a mentor and “big sister” to someone.
With so many national and international organizations, all it takes is a quick Google search to find volunteer opportunities in your area. This Huffington Post article provides a list of 13 different websites for you to explore.
An affinity group is defined as a group of people linked by a common interest or purpose. Groups for women, LGBTQ communities, minority demographics, etc. make up this type of organization.
While these groups are based upon self-identification, they do not represent the vast diversity that each person carries. Joining affinity groups can provide a starting point to make a connection with other people that can lead to miraculous places! Beyond joining groups that meet in person, I’ve found that GroupMe’s are incredibly useful as well. I am a member of a Black Girls in Media group that caters to (you guessed it) black women in media. Beyond sharing job and internship opportunities, meetups have been orchestrated in cities across the nation. It’s so comforting knowing that, at a moment’s notice, I have a group of people I can go to with questions I may have about anything. I’ve gotten my resume and cover letter reviewed by complete strangers, job application references, and countless job opportunities that I wouldn’t have come across otherwise.
This U.S. News article details how affinity groups can help you boost your career.
There you have it! It's possible for anyone to find their tribe as long as they take advantage of social opportunities around them. Try surrounding yourself with strong people with similar interests, and you will be sure to thrive.
By Gwendolyn Smith
Gwendolyn Smith is a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a Social Media Manager at Mischief Management in New York City. @gwenrenee