Lessons Learned At GUASFCU
Published: Friday, January 24, 2014
Updated: Friday, January 24, 2014 15:01
Now that I’m ending my final fall semester as a senior, underclassmen often ask me if there is anything I’d change about my experience. Would you have been involved in something else? Would you have taken different classes? What is your biggest regret? Some of the bolder ones ask me, having looked back over four years, do I still feel that Georgetown was the right choice? Like every senior, I might have changed a few things around (for the record: I would have been an NSO leader and should have tried to take as many classes in the SFS as possible). To the last question, I can answer without ambiguity: absolutely. While I might have gotten a better academic understanding of abstract mathematics and economic theory at a small, liberal arts school, that’s not explicitly what I came to college to do. Like many students, I came with the intention of self-discovery and to build the habits and skills that I would use for the rest of my career, whatever that might be.
Georgetown fosters a unique entrepreneurial environment with immense opportunities to get great experience — look around and you’ll see a campus boiling over with burgeoning student businesses and ventures. It’s not a coincidence that Students of Georgetown Inc. and the Georgetown University Alumni and Student Federal Credit Union, the largest student-run corporation and the largest student-run financial institution in the country, sit down the hall from one another in the Leavey Center. There’s something about Georgetown students that drives us, as it did the founding members of those institutions 30 years ago, to look at the status quo and ask: How could this be better?
Maybe that’s what happens when a university fosters an ethos like cura personalis, as Georgetown does. Or perhaps it’s the result of a university that combines great academics, one of the most multifaceted and inclusive sports programs in the country and a location in our nation’s vibrant and dynamic capital in a way that promotes a diverse array of experiences for its student body. Above all, my guess is passion — Georgetown students are an extremely passionate and action-oriented bunch. In addition to The Corp and GUASFCU, Georgetown has a nationally emulated emergency medical service, Georgetown Emergency Response Medical Service, a robust collection of investment funds (Georgetown University Student Investment Fund, Georgetown Collegiate Investors, Global Platinum Securities) and a top-notch consultancy (Hilltop Consultants), among numerous other impressive, student-run ventures.
In the fall of my freshman year, I was lucky enough to start working at GUASFCU, which has a very obvious business focus. While going through the recruiting process, however, I found that employers cared less about my involvement in the financial workings of GUASFCU and more about the projects I had undertaken and the changes I had effected. The details of the institution and the specifics of my work were of almost minor importance; it was the fact that I had found something that I really cared about and tried to do something impactful about it that interested them. It was also the team aspect of GUASFCU that was essential — you can generally go at it alone as a student, but in the real world you’ll need to have the interpersonal skills to work in small groups toward a common purpose. GUASFCU gave me the opportunity to practice those skills in a way I could never practice them in a class, with the added benefit that I could try my hand at leaving Georgetown better than I found it.
To those inquisitive underclassmen that ask for advice, I say this: be passionate. If you can, go deep into something rather than wide into many things; at least in my experience, you’ll find that it’s more educational and gratifying to really dive into your thing at Georgetown. And if your thing doesn’t exist, put in the work and make it a reality—chances are you’ll find other people whose thing it is as well, and I promise it will be worth it. Another general rule of thumb I tend to follow: find the thing at Georgetown that makes you truly happy, because you’ll end up being far better at it than something that you think might appear more “marketable” on a resume.
In short: Be bold and do the things you love, because no matter what you plan to do after Georgetown, I promise it will help you make the most of your experience on the Hilltop.
Chris Kelly is a senior in the College and outgoing CEO of the Georgetown University Alumni and Student Federal Credit Union.