In college, I was part of a few different clubs.
The social benefits were great, but I also gained professional experience and learned to work as a team. As I was graduating from college, I had a sobering feeling these would be the last clubs I would ever be a part of.
Never again would I come together with people once a week to laugh, connect and socialize.
Like many students about to graduate from school, I thought my future would be filled with days of only work and sleep.
How wrong I was.
While there are no activity fairs in the real world, there are plenty outside-of-work clubs for adults. They meet early in the morning, in the evening or on the weekends. There are many free ones, and it’s a great excuse to continue a passion you love or even start a new one.
There are various benefits to joining a club outside of work, and here are just a few:
1. Social Benefits
Recently, I joined an after-work running club to blow off some steam from the workday. I've become pretty close to some of the people I met there, and we've recently started hanging outside of our running meet-ups.
These are fun and nice people, whom I probably never would have met, had I not put myself out there and joined the club.
2. Professional Connections
There are many professional societies to join, and there are various groups designed specifically for professional networking. While good experience helps, good connections are better.
These groups also have committees you can join, and you can help with projects that are applicable to your career. While there can be a costly membership fee, the networking and professional experiences in these groups are priceless.
I joined a professional society right out of college, and I was able to make connections that helped to further my career.
My recommendation is to show up to a few events and see what happens. While the majority of people who come to networking happy hours are looking for jobs, you just might find the connection you need.
In the process, you'll meet people you'll be happy you connected with, and they can help you grow professionally.
3. Physical Benefits
A very popular before- or after-work activity is to exercise with a group of people. These groups are usually free, so you can throw away that gym membership.
I joined several run clubs after college. When I first started, I couldn’t even make it a mile. Now, I can't believe how in shape I've become, and I credit it to these people.
So, lace up your sneakers, and get out there.
4. Saving Money
As I touched on before, a fair amount of these clubs are free.
Many of them also have partnerships with local businesses, and they allow you to get discounts or free samples, if you're a part of the clubs.
It’s great for your wallet, and it's great for their businesses.
5. Exploring Your City
I've lived in the Washington, DC area for the majority of my life. But, I never really knew the area until I joined these clubs.
Whether I'm running through Rock Creek Park or going to grab a beer afterward at a place I probably would've never gone to, my clubs are great a way to explore the city.
6. Separation Of Work And Life
Let’s face it: If you have a full-time job, it can sometimes feel like it's your whole life.
You wake up, you go to work, you leave work, you get home and you work. It never seems to end.
It’s a real shame because there's a wonderful world out there. One time, I was running at a club with one of my friends, and she said something that really resonated with me: “I come here because it’s a good separation from the work day and the personal day.”
It's so true. All of my workday jitters immediately go away once I arrive at these clubs.
7. Something To Look Forward To
I would often get a “case of the Mondays” before I joined my favorite run club group. Now, I have something to look forward to at the start of every week.
If I can, I go to multiple clubs during the week. It's a great way to break up my days and my 9-to-5 mindset.
8. Employers Love It
I'm currently looking for a job, and interviewers always ask me, “So, what do you do outside of work?”
Luckily, I have an answer.
Employers love it, and they're intrigued by the fact I don't just work all the time.
9. Explore Yourself
I never had a passion for running. I ran for exercise, but I always said, “I will never do a marathon.”
I'm happily eating my words as I go for more miles every week. I had no idea what I was capable of.
I'm not saying this to humble brag; I'm saying this because everyone probably has some untapped potential.
If you never try, you'll never know.