Some of our AWM Student Chapters are active and vibrant yet concerned about what happens after the current leaders and members earn their degrees, others might like to build membership and excitement now. Whatever the circumstances of your student chapter, you’ll find ten ideas for recruiting members and keeping them coming to your activities below. We know there are more great ideas out there: please share yours in the comments or through the AWM Student Chapters Slack workspace (this link).
As an overarching theme, focus on inclusivity and building a positive, supportive, fun and community-oriented environment.
- Activity Fair: Colleges and universities typically have a Fall and a Spring “activity fair” for clubs to recruit members. Often the deadline to apply to have a table at these fairs is early, so be sure to think about that in time. Try to make nice posters, and have a computer or some other mechanism where interested students can sign up directly. If possible, prepare flyers students can take home with them. Be sure to collect contact information and follow-up.
- Advertisements on campus: Consider posting flyers or posters on campus and in the mathematics and affiliated departments. Be creative about means of advertising! Some chapters write in chalk on sidewalks (where allowed), staff a table near where many math classes are taught at key times during the first week of the semester and make use of campus electronic screens.
- Advertisement via mailing lists/email: Contact the math department chair, the math club officers, and/or professors teaching target classes, asking if you may advertise the your AWM chapter to math majors, math club members, and class rosters.
- Advertisement in class: Students can also advertise class by class in person by asking if they can steal 3 minutes from the beginning of the classes. This is a good way to get multiple members involved: split up the class visits and share the excitement! You might also consider requesting 3 minutes at the end of class: this allows you to stick around for individual conversations with anyone interested.
- In-person recruiting: The best way to convince people to give your AWM chapter a try is via a one-on-one conversation. Consider this your own professional development activity in terms of networking!
- Start with a low-key social event and ice-breaker activity: Have a simple social event for the first meeting, where new members can feel welcomed without being overloaded, Food and drinks are always a plus!
- Predictability: Make your meetings and events schedule predictable. (And remind people of dates anyway!) Have regular meetings (weekly, bi-weekly) so that you do not lose members along the way. You can invite seminar speakers to join the meetings or just choose an interesting topic of conversation. Food is always a plus, so having the meeting over lunch (and providing lunch) could be a good idea. Consider timing: when are people taking a break between classes?
- Regular communications: Maintain an updated mailing list. Consider weekly emails — what’s happened, what’s coming up, include a paragraph introducing a new member, highlight an achievement by a member — keep people informed and positive about the chapter and the people in it.
- “Bring a classmate” — Ask returning members to bring one or more potential new members to the first two meetings of the year or of the semester. Be clear that there’s no commitment needed on the visitors’ part; it’s an opportunity to try out the chapter.
- Build a sense of belonging: Be sure your meetings are interactive, at least in part. Pair off returning members with new members or graduate students with undergraduates, or… Create intentional ways for people to get to know one another. Start all meetings with an ice-breaker to build community and set a tone for fun and inclusivity. (Search on “ice-breakers” and you’ll find dozens of ideas.)
- Create a committee structure: Ask members to be responsible for a small part of the whole group’s success. Make the tasks for the committees relatively small, so participating isn’t intimidating. This allows the chapter to share the organizing burden the officers take on, while also creating a sense of belonging and shared responsibility for the group. People can also designate their committees on resumes to indicate more engagement.
Oh no, we ended up with 11 ideas! And we’re sure you have more. What’s worked for your chapter or what are you excited about trying? Let’s share more ideas through the AWM Student Chapters Slack workspace (here)!