Asking for Help to Build a Community

Students walk past Western's Old Main building on a fall day.

College is an exciting time for individuals looking to pursue higher education. Being a first-generation college student, I remember the excitement and nerves I had going into my freshman year at Western Washington University (WWU(opens in new window)). 

For many students, I believe they felt very similar feelings going into their first year of college. The majority(opens in new window) of students at both four-year and public two-year institutions are between the age of 18-24. This is a very exciting time in people’s lives. However, according to the National Institutes of Mental Health, when it comes to major depressive episodes individuals between the age of 18-25 experienced highest frequency at 13.1%. 

Individuals showing symptoms of depression shouldn’t struggle alone. There are resources(opens in new window) and people out there that are willing to help.  

When arriving at WWU(opens in new window), I had no idea of my plan of study. However, I met a friend during my third quarter on campus that took me to a Student Marketing Association (SMA(opens in new window)) meeting. The SMA team was not only welcoming but encouraging and supportive of its members. I quickly came to realize that this group would be part of my support system. Attending SMA sparked my interest in Marketing and allowed me to meet professors of the department.

Three WWU students in professional attire pose for a photo
Photo: @SMA_WWU

Having a Support System

Entering a new environment with new expectations and responsibilities can be a daunting task. Having communication with your loved ones where you can call or text for regular check-ins offers a vital lifeline. 

For  me(opens in new window), the support system(opens in new window) consisted of my closest friends. We consistently checked up on each other and made sure to comfort one another when school started to feel overwhelming. Loved ones can be a good baseline to the start of your support system. Benefits of a support system include: 

  • Improved physical and emotional health 

  • Improved sense of belonging and security 

  • Better problem-solving 

  • Accountability 

I recommend reaching out to your professors. Professors may seem big and scary, but most are very friendly and willing to help individuals in a time of need. Throughout my personal experience in the Marketing Department of WWU(opens in new window), the professors have been always willing to help in a variety of different ways. For example, Professor Sekhon(opens in new window), after taking both Social Media and Brand Marketing, was willing to be one of my references when applying to internships and jobs. Ed Love(opens in new window), a Professor of Marketing and Chair of the Department of Finance and Marketing, encourage me to take on a leadership role within the Student Marketing Association (SMA). 

Building a relationship with my professors made the class more enjoyable and exciting. Not only that, but getting to know professors could increase your chances of landing a job. It’s likely that your professor is well connected in the field you are earning a degree in.  

Many professors know influential industry leaders because of research they have done, or they taught them in the past. Former students who have gone on to be successful in the field could be a great networking connection that your professor could supply. Their experience and networks provided by professors can help lead you to internships or job opportunities.  

Student Marketing Association logo; four arrows converging with "SMA" text below.

Join A Club

I got introduced to SMA(opens in new window) pretty early on in my college career. During the first couple of years, I would go on and off without consistency. Towards the end of my junior year, I realized that coming to the club not only helped me refine my professional skills, but also provided me with a support system. 

Personally, my junior year was the most rigorous. During the year, I felt very anxious and constantly needed to discuss with others my thoughts and opinions. SMA(opens in new window) was a very good outlet for me because many of the members understood what I was going through. SMA might be the club that can also support you through your college career. 

Build Your Path Towards Success 

One thing is for sure - college is an exciting time for the individuals. Creating a support system, whether it be with loved ones, friends, or by joining a club, is a crucial part of college. Many face new expectations, responsibilities, and asking for help isn’t a bad thing. Take advantage of the people willing to help you strive for success. For me, it’s the faculty in the marketing department, such as Professor Sekhon and Love, who has guided and supported me throughout my college journey. I found SMA(opens in new window), which is full of like-minded individuals that are willing to help. I encourage you to ask for help when needed and build your path towards success.  

Join a club like SMA(opens in new window), build a community that can help you in future. The members of the club may be your classmates today, but in the future, they might be your coworkers, managers, or subordinates.