Our Leadership Spotlight series features the most successful student group leaders from universities around the country. Get to know their outstanding organizations and see how CampusGroups (powered by Groupment) is helping them make an impact on campus and beyond.
Every organization has a guiding mission or purpose that motivates members to participate. For most campus-based groups, the overarching goal is to help students foster skills and relationships that aid in their professional development, whether that means practicing public speaking skills or networking around the world.
Some students find especially creative ways to bring career training and opportunities to campus. Jesse Delan, a second-year student at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, was inspired to introduce a different kind of organization to Kellogg's student community, one that could serve as a useful complement to existing professional groups.
His group — which formed earlier this year — is called the Virtual and Augmented Reality Experiences Club, and aims to give members a hands-on education in the latest VR technology. "We decided not to go with the traditional professional focus, since other clubs on campus already had that," says Jesse. "We're focused on experiential opportunities. It's more about combining academic and industry knowledge."
Jesse's vision for the group is to make it as easy as possible for students to bring their ideas to life. Working in virtual and augmented reality requires access to the right equipment and software, but these kinds of resources are typically difficult to acquire for students. As a result, it's often easy for ideas and inspiration to get lost in the process of making long-term plans.
"The main thing we're trying to do by having equipment available in our spaces is to shorten the lead time from ideation to execution," says Jesse. "It can be difficult to take action on ideas that come up quickly and organically."
"A lot of what we're doing is more guerilla style," Jesse continues, drawing a contrast between the VR Club and larger organizations whose events are planned weeks or months in advance. "We have equipment readily available so it's easy and within arms reach for our students."
The chance to work collaboratively on readily-available VR equipment has been an intriguing proposition for Kellogg's students, which is why Jesse's seen such rapid growth in his young group. "We're up to about 70 members," says Jesse. "We've had a few events so far, and we're focused on rolling out more soon."
Since Jesse had previously used CampusGroups for other student organizations, he was able to get the VR Club off to a strong start with minimal effort up front. "It was easy to load it onto CampusGroups," says Jesse. "We're used to using CampusGroups, so we just implemented the same toolkit as before."
Jesse is especially familiar with the community management features in CampusGroups because he takes on many of the responsibilities to keep the club operating smoothly — a natural byproduct of the group's small size. "For the VR club, there are only three of us in charge," says Jesse, referring to co-founders Dave Caine and Arjun Penemetsa. "We've been running everything, but we'll expand as more students join."
He's got reason to be optimistic about the future of the VR Club, especially because of the strong response they received from the group's kickoff event. "Our kickoff event was in one of the school-wide tech newsletters and promoted in other channels," says Jesse. "We pointed everyone back to the CampusGroups event page, and the general goal was to get our registration number as high as possible, to see how many people we were reaching."
With such a unique program focused on an ever-expanding industry, the VR Club looks to be an increasingly important presence on Northwestern's campus. "I'm curious to see where we'll go," Jesse says.