#MUN #StudentClub #CampusLife #Leadership
Living on HEC campus gives you the opportunity to fulfill yourself through extra-curricular activities. With over 120 student clubs with activities ranging from sports to humanitarian missions to entrepreneurship, there are plenty of options to choose from. And if you feel like nothing caters to your particular interests, you can always start your own student club, as I did last year with MUNHEC.
MUNHEC’s vision is to raise students’ awareness about international geopolitics. To do this, we organize events and activities that are both educative and entertaining, among which Model United Nations (MUN). A MUN is a simulation of meetings of international organizations such as the United Nations, the European Union, or the International Court of Justice. Participants, known as “delegates”, play the role of diplomats representing member countries of the UN or of the simulated organization(s). They debate and propose solutions on topics of global concern, such as international security, climate change, or human rights.
So when it comes to creating a student club at HEC, what kind of challenges does one face? What are the best practices one can adopt?
My advice to launch a new student club
Each year, a few student clubs see the day. Yet creating one is a challenging task. It all starts with an innovative idea. But it doesn’t stop there. No student club is a one-man-show, so you need to find supporters of the project, people who are willing to put in the time and effort to turn the original idea into reality.
Once you have acquired a core team, it’s time to take it to the administration. You have one or at best two shots at convincing HEC that your project is unlike any of the hundreds of projects carried out by the existing pool of student clubs, and that it will create a lot of value-added not only for the student body but also for HEC itself.
Let’s say you have managed to get the green light from HEC. The next step is to deal with the paperwork in order to legally set up your club with the Prefecture of Versailles. To get your student club up and going, you’ll also need to open a bank account and contract a civil liability insurance. A lot of banks have special offers for student clubs, so make sure you take time to do a due diligence before engaging yourself.
Once your bank account is open, you’ll need to fill it up with money. Indeed, no project can run without funding, and there are many ways you can get funds. The first and most classic way is to collect contributions from your club members. In the same vein, you can always charge a fee for your events. The second way is to apply for the Campus Life Office ‒HEC’s office in charge of student clubs‒’s subsidies program. The third way is to participate in the various company-sponsored student club competitions such as the Dare Award by L’Oréal Paris, the Mazars Challenge Innovation, the EY Price for Best Associations, etc. Such competitions usually have rewards of several thousand of euros, which could give your club a very good kick start.
After reading this description of the student club creation process, you might have noticed some similarities with the start-up process. That’s because a new student club is a start-up. It’s a lot of work, and it doesn’t always work out the way you want it to. You will face a lot of failures. You may have to change directions several times before finding the right one. You may have to say goodbye to some team members, and you get to welcome new ones. You will have to do a lot of pitches, whether it is to sell your project to the administration, to sponsors or to potential new members.
Just as in start-ups, there are a few things you can do to increase your club’s chance of success. First and foremost, it is critical to have a clear vision and mission statement, as well as a clear value proposition. Why does your club exist? Which needs does it cater to? What makes it stand out from other clubs? It’s all about the branding. This is crucial not only for your external but also for your internal communication.
Speaking about communication, make sure to keep all your team members updated on the advancement of the project all the time. Your team members joined in because they wanted to contribute to the project, so make sure they feel like they are a part of it.
Last but not least, as you welcome new members into the team, try to delegate real responsibilities to them and give them a real autonomy in the way they carry out their work. Founders usually find it very difficult to let someone else make changes to their project. It’s their baby and they feel protective of it; they are scared newcomers would distort their ideas. But the truth is that newcomers usually bring a fresh new perspective that can be very beneficial for the project. Just make sure your recruits suit your club’s culture and abide by your club’s vision and mission.
In the end, it’s a truly amazing experience to have. It teaches you a lot of valuable skills not only for your career but also for your personal life. If you are interested in learning about more MUNHEC, check out our Facebook page, or watch our September MUN after movie. Join the adventure today, or start your own while you’re at it!