C is for Community That’s Good Enough for Me

How do you build community? It’s a question I’ve struggled with both on SCNO exec, but in a broader context at Northwestern. As college students, we’re all busy. Between clubs, friends, and just schoolwork, I’m surprised if any number of my friends get enough sleep at all. It’s like that triangle of work, sleep, and fun, and you only get to pick two.
College choose two

With that said, I am amazed by SCNOers commitment to their non-profits and projects. Each quarter I’m blown away by the quality and depth of the deliverables, and the extensive research and thought that went into them. One of our teams last quarter borrowed a car to drive an hour and a half on a Saturday to conduct demographic research for the entire day. That’s dedication.

However, SCNO is more than just the projects and the work. Ideally, all 60 of us would be a community of friends who are all passionate about non-profit work, and not just co-workers on a project. But this leads us back to the original question: how do you build community and friendships when people are not only busy, but comfortable in their set social groups? When students are already spending so much time on the projects themselves, is it even fair to ask them to spend more time with SCNO socially? And my answer to that is yes of course! For me, it was totally worth the extra effort to get to know the people in SCNO who are now some of my best friends in college. But now, I’m on the other side where I am planning the social events and trying to convince people to come out, and let me tell you, it’s hard and discouraging at times. We’ve had great attendance at some events and dismal attendance at others. Meanwhile, a constant point of feedback that we receive is that our members don’t know everyone in SCNO and don’t feel connected with one another. As exec, we’ve thought long and hard about what makes community, and what we’ve come up with is that we think that is starts with perception and expectation. This upcoming fall we are trying to instill a sense of community within the new members from the get-go, bonfires, dinners, and events, creating the perception that SCNO is both a pre-professional and a social group. We’re excited to see how it goes! But we’re open to any and all ideas: how do you think community is created?

Guest Author: Rachel Lin
President, Northwestern SCNO Chapter

SCNO Experience Summary:

I joined SCNO because I was looking to get involved with non-profits on a deeper level. I worked with three different non-profits as a team member and a team lead as a sophomore. I became a project manager during my junior year, and just recently became president this past March.