Huang: Why Northwestern needs more clubs for beginners

Yujia Huang, Columnist

Northwestern Finance clubs are notoriously cut-throat. The process of getting into a finance-related club at Northwestern is meant to imitate the competitive, challenging and stress-causing procedure of getting into a real asset management or investment bank, but it hurts students who simply want to learn about business. Not everyone who is interested in investment or business has their heart set on working for Goldman Sachs or BlackRock.

The overly competitive Northwestern Finance clubs stops students who are simply interested in business and markets from further exploring and learning about these topics. We want to learn about the financial markets and the inner workings of Wall Street, not be tested by rounds of demanding behavioral and technical interviews.

Underclassmen, like myself, are only 18 and 19. It’s unrealistic for us to know what we want to commit to after we graduate. We haven’t started thinking about resumes, networking and coffee chats. A lot of us are just curious and have a desire to learn more about the world. I don’t intend to work for a Wall Street financial firm, but that doesn’t mean I am not qualified to learn about finance.

Unfortunately, due to the competitive nature of finance clubs on campus, it’s difficult to find a stress-free environment to gain financial knowledge outside of an academic setting. Of course, it’s beneficial to have that knowledge walking into those clubs, but there are more students like me who haven’t had the time or ability to acquire knowledge on our own. We are hoping to find a relaxing place to learn, not to be tested on the meaning of “proprietary trading.” We want the club to be a space where we can learn, but we are rejected because we do not know enough.

Similarly, interest groups such as a cappella clubs and hip-hop dance clubs are also competitive and filled with near-professional performers. While it’s admirable that the interest clubs at Northwestern are filled with talented individuals, we should also acknowledge that there are many others just getting started singing, dancing and playing an instrument. Rookies like me need a low-stress, low-stakes environment where I feel encouraged and motivated, not ashamed and looked down upon. We need clubs where we can meet fellow newbies, encourage each other when we struggle and motivate each other to deepen our pursuits for what we love.

While we are all accomplished individuals at Northwestern, we must also realize that not everyone is excellent in all areas of life. The competitive nature of Northwestern clubs can discourage students who are only getting started in a certain field. It’s overwhelming to walk into a room where everyone else has spent hundreds of hours learning about something you have only recently discovered.

While competitive clubs at Northwestern are valuable to people who are advanced, we also need more clubs that are willing to accept students who are just getting started. If we carve out a more mindful space for beginners to make mistakes, more of us can better endure the unfamiliarity and difficulty of picking up something completely new and become one step closer to who we want to be.

Yujia Huang is a Weinberg sophomore. She can be contacted at [email protected] If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.