College Clubs bridging the gap between studies and the real-world experience

As college freshmen across the country get ready to start out at a new school, they’ll be greeted with an array of student clubs to join, offering the promise of an enhanced collegiate experience that provides opportunities for personal growth, friendship, skill development, and a sense of purpose and community. However, with a shaky labor market, some of the most popular clubs are the ones that focus on networking and professional development, providing students with connections to industry professionals, alumni, or experts in their fields of interest. Ahead we check out some of the options that are available.


The University of Chicago’s undergraduate investment club, the Blue Chips, is one of many college clubs where Gen Zs learn about investing by managing tens or hundreds of thousands—even millions—of dollars in assets. Members research companies, pitch stocks, make trades—and debate everything from the trajectory of aluminum prices to whether a recession is imminent. Even high-schoolers in San Francisco are getting in on the act as students take on roles such as analyst and portfolio manager, designed to mimic professional investment firms.


As discussed in Cassandra’s The Great Re-Port on Work, Gen Z is not averse to having a side hustle, and it would appear that there’s one method that is providing a fast track to a well-paid job. Postgraduate students have long provided paid services to corporate clients. More recently, however, undergraduate consulting clubs have skyrocketed in popularity. Like real consultants, they pitch for clients, cold-call or email. Some student clubs have a charitable focus, others are more commercially driven. Both boast the benefits of being able to experiment with different types of work before committing to a career.


In the fall of 2022, over 250 applicants sought to join USC Reach, the University of Southern California's content creator incubator club. Only 38 were accepted. Established in 2017, the club provides mentorship, workshops with industry speakers from Google, Facebook, WarnerMedia, TikTok, and Spotify, and access to collaborative content production days. Reach has already expanded to other colleges starting with UCLA and has plans to expand further. Other institutions like Florida International University are also adopting similar trends with programs like FIU Creators, aiming to showcase student life from a firsthand perspective.