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Campus & Community

6 Tips to Finding Your Thing at First Look Fair

Two-Day Festival of Student Club, Organization Recruitment Returns

By Maya Pottiger ’17, M.Jour. ’20

Students explore at the First Look Fair in 2018

Photo by John T. Consoli; illustrations by Valerie Morgan

The First Look Fair, the two-day outdoor festival featuring more than 450 student clubs and organizations, will be split into eight “neighborhoods” on McKeldin Mall.

Last year, perhaps you couldn’t get into the swing of Maryland’s hammock club. Or you didn’t jump at the chance to join the Korean Pop Dance Club or flip for Gymkana gymnastics troupe. But maybe this year, you will. 

That’s part of the thinking behind the First Look Fair, the two-day outdoor festival of more than 450 student clubs and organizations, opening today: It’s not just for first-year students. 

“Part of it is our overall tagline of ‘Find Your Thing,’” said Ashley Venneman, manager of student organization development. “There’s a whole host of reasons why someone might come.”

This year, the recruitment fair will be split into eight groups, or “neighborhoods,” on McKeldin Mall: sports, academic/honorary, cultural, general and religious, Greek, service, sponsors, and UMD departments, College Park merchants and nonprofit agencies. Students can just grab a map of the neighborhoods and track down whatever sounds intriguing, from Afrochique to Young Life.

“We know that involvement has a lot of benefits on campus, whether that’s finding new passions, exploring something you’ve never done before and turning it into a career, or finding friends,” Venneman said.

With all the booths, demonstrations and people, the First Look Fair might seem overwhelming. But veterans of the event say it’s easy to tame:

Map illustration1. Explore
Don’t limit yourself to one neighborhood. “Check out clubs in as many neighborhoods as [you] can,” said Lauren Eng ’22, president of Ethnobeat, a world music a cappella group. “Some clubs fit into multiple neighborhoods and may not be stationed where one might expect.”



Clipboard illustration2. Leave your autograph
The clubs will have sheets for your contact information. Don’t be afraid to share your email address. “Going to one meeting might change your college experience forever, and you can always unsubscribe from a club’s email list with one click if you find you’re really not that interested,” said Alex Goldstein ’20, co-creative director of Sketchup, a sketch comedy club.



Tragedy and comedy theater masks3. Try new things
“Step out of your comfort zone and sign up for things that you’ve always wanted to try, but never had the guts to do it,” said Hannah Weisman ’20, artistic director of Avirah Israeli Dance Company. “College goes by in the blink of an eye, and now is your chance to cross those items off your bucket list.”



Clock illustration4. Carve out time
“Dedicate more time than walking to class to walk around First Look Fair,” said Kaila Blevins ’20, president of Alpha Phi Omega. “A time crunch makes it overwhelming since there is so much to see in a little bit of time.”



Handshake illustration5. Make connections
“An important thing is to walk up and actually talk with the people behind the tables,” said Joel Yoo ’20, president of UMCP Gaming. They can provide insight about the club and answer any other questions you might have.



Smartphone illustration6. Follow along
If you find a club that interests you, but you’re not sure if you can fit it into your schedule now, follow the social media accounts to stay connected. “This will allow you to see what happens in the organization throughout the semester and give you an idea of what to expect when you can join,” Blevins said.




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