Bruin 101: Clubs
(Katelyn Dang/Illustrations Editor)
In this episode of “Bruin 101,” a Daily Bruin podcast about life at UCLA, Podcasts contributors Megan Cai, Wendy Minn and Sonia Wong discuss their experiences and advice about exploring and joining clubs.
Megan Cai: Hello and welcome to Bruin 101, a Daily Bruin podcast that is made by Bruins for Bruins. In this series, we hope to help students and prospective students learn about and adapt to UCLA by providing insight into the school, sharing helpful tips and discussing concerns. In this episode, we will be talking about clubs, how we chose clubs and our experiences with them. My name is Megan, and I will be one of the hosts for this episode.
Wendy Minn: I’m Wendy.
Sonia Wong: Hi guys. I’m Sonia.
MC: So yeah, what clubs are you guys a part of?
WM: I can go first. I mean, first of all, we’re all in Daily Bruin. But besides that, I’m in Ascend, which is a business club. I’m in KASA, which is one of the cultural social clubs. I’ve also had a lot of experience applying to clubs that I’m not in. So like consulting clubs and dancing clubs. I’ve definitely had my fair share of them. What about you, Sonia?
SW: For me, obviously, I’m currently in Daily Bruin writing for the Quad and also speaking for Podcasts. As for other clubs, I’m currently involved in two clubs that are more focused on environmental issues, which is called CALPIRG as well as SAGE. CALPIRG is more action based. We do more petitions, whereas SAGE is more of an environmental consulting club. And lastly, I’m also involved in Cercle, which is basically just a French culture club on campus. What about you, Megan?
MC: As with everyone else, I’m a part of Daily Bruin. I do Photo, I cross-trained in Arts and Entertainment and also Podcasts. I’m in Bruin Dine, which is essentially a club that takes leftovers from the dining halls and redistributes it to students and workers in need every week. And I also just recently joined Bruin Shelter, I interviewed in the spring. But we like I said, don’t get started until the fall. And I’m also a part of ACA or the Association of Chinese Americans. And I guess I found Daily Bruin through the Enormous Activities Fair. And I also found ACA through that. For Bruin Dine and Bruin shelter. I kind of looked them up specifically because those were kind of areas I was interested in. How did you guys find the clubs that you are in?
WM: To clarify mentioned earlier, the Enormous Activities Fair, it’s the largest like Student Organization Fair and features over 500 plus student organizations and departments. It gives you an opportunity to explore clubs you’re passionate about, find new interests and meet a lot of new people. It’s usually held in front of Royce, called like the Royce Quad. And this usually takes place at the beginning of fall quarter. I actually didn’t join a single club from the Enormous Activities Fair, I remember that day it was so hot out there that all I really wanted to do is go back to my dorm and the AC. So I found most of my clubs through social media, and there were even some clubs that I’d actually heard about before coming in. I mean, I’ve always been really interested in Korean culture. So I definitely knew there was going to be a Korean club somewhere. So things like that I kind of already knew upon entering school, things like Daily Bruin, I feel like was something that I kind of thought about later. I was just like, really interested in media things. So I think I’m on a student media newsletter or something. And it said that Daily Bruin was looking for people. And I was like, looking for media-related positions, like, kind of club positions. And so I found out about podcasts. And that’s very something along the lines that I’m interested in. So then I joined I think, maybe last year, and then otherwise, I was joining clubs based off professional interests, I was in business for a while. So I went through a bunch of different consulting clubs, like every single one that was out there just applied to them all. And then, out of all the business clubs, Ascend’s the one that really stuck. It really helps because the people that I met were really great. And I think that’s really what made me keep that club above everything else.
SW: Yeah, I can definitely say my experience was pretty similar to the both of you. While I found most of the clubs through the activities fair, I didn’t actually commit to most of them, I didn’t end up committing to most of them, actually. As for one little thing to add, apart from the activities fair as well, social media or other external sources, I actually found out about Cercle Francophone in class as well. Since it’s the French culture club, and I’m enrolled in several French classes, a lot of the professors actually promote the club as a place not only for French speakers or French-speaking students to meet but also as a place for people with interest in just French culture or French speaking to join as well. So I also found that to be a pretty useful method, and it was pretty easy, you know, just joining the club, and there’s a low commitment. So apart from the activities fair and social media, there are also other ways you can discover clubs on campus like flyers as well. So now moving a little bit into our own experiences with the club. Megan, would you like to start speaking about how you feel about the clubs? Or how has managing different clubs and schedules been for you?
MC: Yeah, definitely. Well, I’ll start with Daily Bruin. I am, I joined in Photo, and I’m really glad that I joined. And the second club I’m a part in is called Bruin Dine. And that one was just really close to my heart because I joined the food cluster this past year. And it was just really insightful to see how much food waste impacts the environment. So I knew I wanted to join something really applicable like that, and Bruin Dine was perfect. Every week, you essentially recover food from the dining halls, the dining halls close at nine, and then you go in with trays at 9:30. And then you, we transport it to the basement of SAC. And then there was like a line outside the door waiting or like of students waiting to have food. And it was really cool just serving them and helping people and like feeling that you were making a tangible change. And that experience was really great. I would encourage everyone who has time to volunteer or apply because it’s just a really great community and a really great cause. That was kind of my similar experience with Bruin Shelter since I only applied like I don’t really have hands-on experience on what they do. But essentially, they run a homeless shelter out in Santa Monica for students who obviously do not have a house or a place to live in. And they do shifts from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. to provide for students, and they cook meals, and they interact with the students in the homeless shelter. And everyone at the club seems very passionate, and I’m very excited to join. I also did mention ACA earlier, and I did find two very good friends through there. Like I feel like ACA is generally a social club. Not many people use it to get positions or gain experience, although the people who do use it for that have great connections. But like this year, I felt it was a little lacking because essentially, ACA is split up into families because it’s such a large organization that like each family had around 20 people led by a fam head. And I found that my fam was a little inactive. But honestly, it was fine with me because I ultimately found some friends out of it. But yeah, if you’re looking for friends, like something more social, I definitely recommend joining a club like ACA or any other culture-type club.
WM: Yeah, I have similar experiences because I’m also in KASA, which is the Korean American Student Association. And it’s definitely a hit or miss for everyone for, I feel like, every social club. So for my KASA fam, they just happened to be one of the few inactive ones. But I, also similar to Megan, I had one friend that I made, and I’m really glad I did. But otherwise, for me, it just wasn’t the greatest experience. I definitely have, I know people in ACA, and I know that they’ve made their best friends and like their friend groups from ACA, the same with KASA. But at the same time, there are always going to be people that just didn’t happen to meet the right people at the right time and just end up dropping it. And I think that’s totally fine. Because that always just gives you opportunities to join other clubs. And I think that’s definitely been the case for me. I started branching out a lot more than I thought. I thought I was going to be pretty active in KASA because I am really big on like the Korean entertainment industry. But that just didn’t work out. So then I feel like I went further and discovered other clubs and met people that originally wouldn’t have met.
SW: Yeah, I find it really interesting how both of you touched on the social aspect of clubs. Whereas for me, joining clubs was more of like an academic thing or something to pursue my passion. And I didn’t really consider the social aspect, which is probably also why, at the end of like the last school year, I actually felt a little lost in the clubs I was joining. Because while I really enjoyed all the clubs that I was in, for example, for Daily Bruin, I knew I wanted to join because I wanted to write more, I wanted to be able to have a hands-on experience with journalism. And as for CALPIRG and Sage, I’ve always known that I was passionate about the environment and wanted to advocate for like good causes and meet people who are— who share the same interest as I do in the process. But I never really considered joining social clubs. And that’s why near the end of the year, even though my schedule was pretty packed with all the things that I liked doing, I still felt like I was pretty unfulfilled. So I definitely think this is one thing that I would look out for when I’m looking for joining other clubs or branching out to other clubs next year as well. So possibly joining more dance clubs where there’s more of a social culture or just the club that’s like more social without any other academic commitments.
WM: Yeah, that was definitely something I was shocked about, though. Like, I was also applying. Like, when I came to college, I was more looking into professional clubs, things that would like better me as a person applying to jobs. And everything is so competitive here. I remember when I applied to consulting clubs, there must have been at least six or seven different consulting clubs that I got rejections from even at the resume drop. And then the ones that I did get interviews and final round interviews, I just got rejected twice. It ended up working out for me because I’m not going into consulting. But it’s definitely an expectation I did not have. For specifically for consulting, we have things where you just guess like the amount of people at certain places. So market sizing is where you just like estimate the number of people or things sold. So an example is like guessing how many people ate like a burger In N Out in Westwood in a given day. And you’re just basically just using your logic and showing them like, oh, I can think really well. So things like that was definitely shocking because it wasn’t even like class, but I felt like I had to prepare for that. And I definitely did prepare for that as well.
MC: I was also thinking about consulting just for a little bit before I did hear about how competitive it was. I feel like the consulting clubs at UCLA are notoriously competitive and possibly unnecessarily so. I don’t personally have any experience with the consulting club, but they do have a reputation for that. For me, the criteria I had for choosing clubs was kind of the opposite. I kind of wanted to just choose what I was passionate about and hopefully make friends because I think that was my biggest concern going into college was like making friends. But like your guy’s— how Sonia’s perspective shifted to like trying to make more friends or get into more social organizations, my perspective this next year is trying to get into more professional organizations. Because while I do love all the clubs that I’m a part of, I feel like I’m unsure how they would help me in the future. Like while I do enjoy doing it, I also have to think about what I’m going to be doing after college and how my experiences in college will help me succeed out of college.
SW: I definitely agree that choosing clubs and narrowing down your choices can be a stressful process, not to mention what Wendy mentioned, which is how competitive the clubs here are. And personally, I think I’m in the process of deciding one thing that really helped me was actually to go to seniors for advice. So because they have more experiences with clubs, and obviously with two, three more years of experience they have experienced switching in and out of clubs. So before I applied to any of them or committed to any of them, I actually took their advice to try out for a quarter and see if I liked it that much. And if I didn’t like it, even in the first quarter, I should just try to switch out to something else or just to branch out. Just because even if you don’t enjoy it, like for a quarter, it’s really hard for you to like carry on with the year ahead. And it’s always better to just tell the board members or presidents that you’re not either passionate enough for this instead of just dropping out of nowhere or just like cutting contact with all of them. And I think another thing to really bear in mind is that even if you get rejected from a lot of clubs, that doesn’t really mean anything. It’s just because UCLA has such a huge student body and everybody has such diverse interests that even people with really different majors can come together in the same club. And so that’s why the interviewing, and you know competing process, is so, so stressful. But in the end, you learn a lot, even if you get rejected, like for example, a lot of times I personally think I built up like a really nice application. But it turns out that I’m just not the type of person that aligns with the values of certain clubs or different societies. So I think it’s totally fine to get rejected as long as you’re able to realize what you did and realize how you can do better for the other interviews. And once you’re ready to go, you should always still try more and just not be afraid of being rejected because in the end, what is right for you will stick, I think.
WM: Yeah, I definitely agree with that advice. Especially if just like trying out things, I think I definitely overestimated and counted my eggs before they hatched thinking I was going to be part of like organizations before it happened. So I feel like I wish I branched out a little more. A lot of the clubs I’m currently involved in or have been involved in have been pretty inactive. And in a way, it can be like a double-edged sword because one thing that’s really nice is that you have like the potential to like make changes on your own and like actually do something tangible. It gave me the opportunity to kind of like, this (episode) is actually like the idea I pitched and to see it like actually play out and kind of be in charge of it, it’s been really crazy. So it’s definitely cool to be able to like start something on our own. But at the same time, I sometimes wish I like had direction, but definitely part of like adulting is doing things for yourself and kind of taking charge to make changes. So it’s definitely a double-edged sword with that.
SW: To piggyback off of your idea, I definitely think it’s really good to try and sometimes even in clubs, even with like a supposed organization if things can still fail. And it’s still a really valuable learning experience. For example, like Sage, as I mentioned, even though it’s an environmental consulting club, it’s actually relatively new and was just started just a year ago. So in the process, both as members and board members, we had to try a lot of different things. We had to see what sticks and see what kind of training style works for different members, as well as just branch out to a lot of different companies, because a lot of times, some of the deals don’t actually end up working out. So it’s still a bit of a learning process. But it’s exactly because of that, that you become more and more committed to the club, as well as be more passionate about wanting to see it succeed. So I definitely think— yeah, so touching back on that it’s definitely also good to while look at clubs that are you really, really successful, and that you really want to be in to have other backup options, and to be open to clubs that are relatively new because that’s where you can have the most possible creative freedom and be exactly because of how small it is, your voice is actually really valued. And you can make a lot of tangible changes like Wendy mentioned.
MC: Yeah, and I want to go back to the competitiveness. I feel like we kind of emphasized that. While there are like clubs are very competitive. I also wanted to highlight other clubs like that don’t require an application like not all clubs are extremely competitive. Some are like they’re open to anyone, they will beg you to scan their QR code on Bruinwalk, like not all clubs at UCLA are very exclusive. And like everyone has said, it’s really cool to find a smaller club and really focus on that and build it from the ground up. That’s how it is at Bruin Dine because Bruin Dine really got slashed by COVID since there is no dining halls, and now food guidelines are around like the dining halls are super strict because of COVID. We’re essentially building it from the ground up. They used to, like pre-pandemic, they were bordering on like operating five days a week. But this past year, we’ve only operated during spring quarter, once a week. And that’s definitely a focus of our club next year is getting more volunteers and operating five times a week, which is like the ultimate goal. But yeah, I just wanted to emphasize light and Bruin Dine, the application was relatively chill, and you can anyone can be a volunteer. So I would just like to highlight that not all clubs are very competitive, and some are very welcoming.
SW: Yeah, and I think clubs that are really welcoming and allow a volunteer option is also really good. Because sometimes towards the middle of the quarter, you feel like you’re really overwhelmed already by the academic stress. So clubs can really get to you. So a lot of times you should try to balance the amount of club commitments you have as well as with schoolwork. And I think volunteering has been really helpful because it not only allows you to gain a really meaningful experience and get a new chance to meet new people, but relatively you have a more flexible schedule, and you’re not stuck to a singular role where you just assign different tasks, and you don’t feel like you’re being too overwhelmed, or especially when midterms and everything hits, it can get pretty tough. So having a volunteer club not only still allows you to work for the things you’re passionate about but also has a relatively lower time commitment. So you don’t have to feel like you’re always catching up with both work and like clubs are always like chasing you.
WM: Yeah, kind of going off the whole, “It’s not super competitive,” there’s, I feel like it’s also never too late to join a club. Like there are some clubs that I’ve been in since my freshman year. And there are also clubs that I’ve just recently joined, including this one. So it’s definitely never too late to join, and with like every single club that you join, there’s always a new batch of people and just more people to meet as well. So you’re not always going to feel behind and feel out of place because there will always be new people joining at every time especially considering how big our student population is.
MC: But yeah, going off of volunteering and it being very manageable for your schedule. Even if it isn’t volunteering, depending on the club you’re a part of, the board members of your club are students as well, and they will hopefully understand the stress that you’re going through. So I think communication is a really big part of being in like a team or a club setting. And communicating when you’re feeling stressed or fatigued or overwhelmed is very important for your well-being. And it’s important to communicate to that to them when like so they can plan around you. So communication is key in essentially everything you do.
SW: Yeah, I definitely agree with what Megan just said, like, being able to communicate your needs properly. And speaking of your own needs, what— are there any pieces of advice that you guys would give in terms of balancing, you know, club, and other stresses that come with just being in college? I think, for me, personally, I think a really good thing to do is just to learn to take time out of your schedule. So a lot of times, even though clubs can get really overwhelming, I always just try to take a walk in between classes and clubs because a lot of times club meetings are, usually for me at least, during evening time. So I like to just take a walk out to Westwood and just allow myself to detach from everything, regardless of if it’s schoolwork or clubs. And just to make sure to vocalize your needs and to always prioritize, you know your own mental well-being first. And if clubs do get too overwhelming, then you can really reconsider your priorities. And if you think that, at that moment, you’re not prepared to handle both clubs and schoolwork, then you could even offer or request to take a break from the clubs by just talking to board members. And I’m pretty sure they would try their best to understand your situation. And they would be glad to communicate with you as well.
WM: Yeah, clubs can definitely be very overwhelming at times. I guess a piece of advice I would give is to really just try things out. I know a lot of people told me this, and I was scared that I would overwhelm myself. But it’s very easy, and you should just communicate, figure things out. And if you just don’t want to, like we kind of talked about earlier, just kind of quit the club, and it’s never too late to start another one. So definitely try things out and see where it takes you, even if it doesn’t take you all the way.
MC: Yeah, I agree. I think to highlight what you guys said. I think a good piece of advice is that it’s okay to say no. Sometimes I feel like personally, I have a hard time saying no to other people because I always want to feel like useful or helpful. Even when it’s at the cost of my own well-being or time or sleep. I find it difficult to say no but like certain times when you’re just feeling stressed or overwhelmed by your club. Definitely like saying no is an option. And that ties back to communication. Like if you have clear communication with who you’re working with in the club, whether it be board or other club members that you have to collaborate with. Just communicate with them as soon as you can.
MC: “Bruin 101” is brought to you by the Daily Bruin, UCLA student newspaper. You can listen to the show and others by the Daily Bruin on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and SoundCloud. And the transcript for this show is available at dailybruin.com. Thanks, everyone. See you next week.