Connecting your Student Organization to your Future: Second Year Council (SYC)

Kaitlyn Diaz – October 10th, 2017

Learn from a fellow UVA undergraduate how a student organization can provide you the necessary resources, skills, and connections to attain your current and future career goals. Check out the following spotlight on Second Year Council (SYC) featuring Omar Elhaj who is currently serving as the President of SYC. Omar is studying Foreign Affairs and Computer Science. Read on to learn Omar's journey with Class Council.  


What is the benefit of joining Second Year Council?

SYC is a phenomenal organization because it gives students the ability to serve their entire class.  Students are assigned to different committees, which include a Community Engagement (serving The Haven), Social (large social events), Wellness (mental health promotion, and stress relief), 2nd Year Dinner Series (organizing dinners for 2nd Years with faculty to discuss different topics), Academic & Career Development (helping students figure out their lives), Outreach (including all corners, populations, and organizations of the University), and Marketing (promoting these events).  Each of them contribute to fostering a sense of unity among the Class of 2020.  Students are given a direct leadership role, and a plethora of resources to foster actual change at the University.

What is your current role and overall experience of being involved in SYC? How have you achieved, or hope to attain personal development?

I am currently President of SYC.  I have been involved with Council since my 1st Year, where I was also President of FYC.  It has been my most rewarding experience here at UVA.  It is given me a purpose, to serve my classmates every single day.  My closest friends are also on Council, and I enjoy working with them all of the time. Of course, there is always room for growth, and I hope to use the remainder of my time to continue learning how to best serve the class.

What are some transferable skills gained from being a member of SYC that can be mentioned in a resume or interview?

First and foremost, event planning.  This is actually a skill that a lot of people fail to appreciate, and is relevant to nearly any profession, as events are omnipresent.  Proper logistical planning is what we live and breathe, and every SYC member becomes a master at it.  Aside from this, members also learn to manage budgets, and work closely with teams.  We're given a gargantuan sum of money, so it's important that everyone have a say in how it's managed.  

How does SYC help undergraduate students explore their options, in terms of career track, or explore something about themselves (i.e. strengths, weaknesses, limitations)?

In representing the class, you represent many UVA experiences.  Through that, I think it's much easier to form your own experience.  Resultantly, SYC assists immensely with whatever you wish to do at UVA or beyond.  Students are challenged and given a real-world application of the important skills I listed earlier. Given that Council works under the Alumni Association, it also puts us in connection to all of the resources Alumni Hall has.  

What advice/information would you give to UVA students interested in exploring SYC? What is the time commitment?

Although SYC applications are closed, consider applying to TYC in February!  If you're really passionate about your class, definitely consider applying!  The time commitment is not too bad, actually.  A weekly committee meeting, a bi-weekly Council meeting, and regular attendance at Council events. 

What general advice do you have for students who are uncertain in what they want to get involved in? How can they start exploring?

A lot of it is trial and error.  See what interests you, and really dive in.  You can always drop involvements that you realize are not so much your jam.  And if it doesn't work out one semester, don't feel discouraged.  You can always try again!  


Feel free to contact Omar (oe9dt@virginia.edu) with questions regarding membership or involvement in Class Council.