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Davis, California

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

UC Davis’ Involvement Fair offers opportunities for career and social connections

The event enables students to explore the resources, clubs and organizations available on campus 


By ELIZABETH WOODHALL — features@theaggie.org


The Involvement Fair at UC Davis offers students the opportunity to roam around the quad and learn about the different ways they can get involved on campus. Described as an “annual student organization showcase” on the UC Davis Center for Student Involvement website, the Involvement Fair took place on Oct. 11, 2023, from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. 

Lian Boos, the director of the Center for Student Involvement, said that the Involvement Fair can be seen as a long-standing tradition — one that has been around for almost 40 years. Over time, the Involvement Fair has evolved to accommodate and include the growing number of registered clubs and organizations on campus. 

“We send out an invite to all our registered student organizations on campus, and they can sign up to table at the Involvement Fair,” Boos said. “We have a limit to the tables, so this year [there were] over 300 tables available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Two years ago it was only 200 organizations, this year it will be around 400; we have over 788 organizations on campus, so it’s a lot and we are constantly thinking about how we can grow the capacity so that we can host more of our organizations.” 

With thousands of students expected to drop by the Involvement Fair, Boos said that the energy can be exciting and busy. With so many opportunities available, it can also be overwhelming with the amount of students passing by and tabling. 

“We invite all students to participate so they can stop by and get connected to any of our student organizations,” Boos said. “It’s gonna be busy; it’s exciting, big energy on the quad. It can be overwhelming on both ends […] It’s a bustling day, and students [tabling] can expect to be proactive, open, welcoming and inclusive.” 

Even if students don’t find an organization or club that interests them, Boos said that the Involvement Fair isn’t the only way to stay connected; Aggie Life is a great way to remain up-to-date and involved without having to be in-person, especially for students who are more introverted. 

“Not every organization comes to the Involvement Fair, so if you’re walking around the Involvement Fair and don’t see an organization you’re excited to be a part of, you can also go onto Aggie Life, which is kind of like a virtual involvement fair platform where you can look up all the organizations we have on campus and get connected with them that way. There’s contact information on each of the organization’s pages, so you can reach out [there].”  

Rachel Bingham, the First-Year Aggie Connections coordinator, said via email that this fair can be a “drop-in experience” for students who choose not to be there for the entirety of its duration.

“There will be a lot of groups tabling, so it’s likely impossible to visit every table,” Bingham said. “New students should arrive with some ideas of what kind of co-curricular involvement they’re looking for. If participants already know they’re looking to learn more about clubs/organizations based on personal identities, hobbies/interests, future career paths or extracurriculars like athletics, it can make such a big fair easier to navigate. 

Bingham went on to discuss the importance of experiencing new things for students entering their first year of college. 

“Part of the first-year experience is getting comfortable putting yourself out there in a new community,” Bingham said. “[This] means going up to tables and being prepared to have a lot of conversations with the club representatives.”

Bingham explained that the Involvement Fair goes beyond just allowing students to see what organizations, clubs and resources are available to them, it can also be about building relationships with other students. Especially for first-year and transfer students, the Involvement Fair can be a great opportunity to meet other students who share similar interests. 

  “It’s really important for new students to attend the Involvement Fair because joining a club or organization is one of the best ways to have fun and find your circle of friends, mentors and allies,” Bingham said. “We know new students who are accepted to UC Davis come with vast extracurricular experience, which they’re likely looking to continue and expand on during their time in college. The involvement fair only happens once a year, so first-year students should already be making important decisions now about involvement that may last the rest of their time at UCD. “

HackDavis, the “premier collegiate hackathon” at UC Davis according to the club’s Instagram, is just one of the many organizations that will be tabling at this year’s Involvement Fair.

Shounak Ranabhor, a fourth-year student majoring in cell biology and the co-president and CEO of HackDavis, said that the fair allows for clubs to reach a “large repertoire of students.” 

This is one of our favorite places to kind of find a bunch of different students, different majors, different backgrounds, different experiences, and put them all together in one melting pot and have [them] meet with us and see what we can do for them,” Ranahbor said. “When I came to the Involvement Fair when I was new to UC Davis, I learned a lot just by walking around being with people like you. You meet a lot of friends. You need a lot of people who might come from the same places or different places.”

Fiona Chau, a third-year majoring in managerial economics and minoring in English and the lead director of finance for HackDavis, said that those tabling at the Involvement Fair hope to have students come by and learn more about the clubs and organizations available to them. 

“The Involvement Fair is so much more than just coming to the events,” Chau said. “It’s like, you know, ‘come connect with us so that we can help you succeed at UC Davis as a transfer, as a freshman, as a junior, etc.’ Whoever you are — We invite everyone to come in. By coming to the Involvement Fair and talking to us in person and building that in-person connection, we really encourage that, and, you know, just talk to each other as students, and I think that that’s really helpful.”

Rachel Yap, a fourth-year design and psychology major and the co-president of HackDavis, said that the Involvement Fair allows clubs like Hackathon to reach different students and encourage them to join. 

“There’s a big melting pot of experiences there,” Yap said. “It’s like a big pool that we usually can’t really lock into when we go tabling in classes. But at the Involvement Fair, everybody’s there, everybody who’s interested and you’re across all majors. It’s just a great melting pot of experiences that we enjoy tapping into.” 

The Pantry, a student-run and student-led organization that offers students access to food and essential resources, will also be a part of the Involvement Fair. The Pantry’s Outreach Manager Qinyin Huang, a fourth-year design and cinema and digital media major, and External Affairs Manager Charlotte Zhao, a third-year psychology and political science major, agreed about what the Involvement Fair has to offer. 

“It’s a pretty interactive event as well, each booth has different things that they are offering, so students can come up and kind of interact with the people,” Zhao said.

Zhao also mentioned that the Involvement Fair is meant to be an inclusive, welcoming experience for everyone — but especially for incoming and transfer students who aren’t too familiar with campus life.

“It’s a great opportunity for Davis students to know what this school has to offer,” Zhao said. “I know for my first year, I was kind of lost as a student. I didn’t know what clubs, resources and organizations were available to students, so this is a great campus-wide event that is open to all students and is a great way to see what clubs have to offer, and it’s a prime example of students gaining access to these different opportunities they weren’t aware existed.”

Whether students are tabling for their club or are new and trying to see what campus life is all about, the Involvement Fair promises a bustling environment that offers endless opportunities and allows students to form long-lasting connections. 

Written by: Elizabeth Woodhall — features@theaggie.org