Continuity in Student Organizations

April 2015 · 6 minute read · Author: Vignesh Krish

Over the last year and a half, I’ve been part of a student organization called ‘Stardust-DTU’. It is a volunteer organization on entrepreneurship and innovation. When I joined, we were 5 students committed to building something extraordinary. We were committed in resurrecting the organization and making it grow. It was an obsession for us and we managed it quite an extent too in the last year and a half if I could be so proud. Our focus, was on the activities and what we did. We did not, however, focus on our management or solve the main problem we were facing.

Continuity is a huge problem

All student organizations seem to have a problem that doesn’t necessarily get a solution: continuity. It is a thing most other non-profit organizations don’t necessarily deal with: students/people moving out of the organization and fresh blood taking its place. With people moving out, there is not only a lack of students who have an extensive knowledge to take over, there is not an extensive support system to assist them in doing that. Information rather than being conserved, just falls out. It seems to disappear rather than have a small leak which is usually the case.


I’ve been part of so many trial and error methods, mentoring methods, amongst so many others in figuring out the solution. Previous members of the organization stick around for some extra time and answer questions. But even that can only do so much. The guy who is running the organization now should ask the right questions to get the answer that he/she needs from the alumni. Most often, the questions are wrong. Asking the right question is only half of the problem. More often than not, it is hard to convey all the relevant things through a meeting even when the right questions are asked. Some times, there are so many questions and the answers are extremely long!!

The other solution is to have an extensive journalling system stored online. Stuff the cloud storage system full of documents and pray that it works on some level. The problem is, you get sick of reading all the documents after some time and you don’t want to keep referring to a guide. And it is impossible to write a book/guide to do all of the things. Time is a constraint. In fact, it is the biggest constraint. But, my half year in charge of Stardust has been to rebuild a part of its foundation and position it better for the guys who come after the team we have right now.

Has it been solved?

The question has been burning for some time now. Yet, I feel that this issue is not solved with a solution that is a simple lead bullet. As I took over the organization, the way I felt I could approach the problem was building fail-safe mechanisms and structuring the organization around these mechanisms. Here are my thoughts on the structures I have tried to incorporate. Before I start, I’ll like to make this clear:

These are my views and my opinions that seem to work for the situation our organization has been in. It may not be the exact way someone else has to work to conserve information and maximize the life of a student organization.

That said, let us start:

These are pretty much the core points. In addition to all of these points, our advisory board, which has been quite unused is something we plan to utilize more. That would be the last point. In case the organization has an advisory board: ask questions, gather advice, use them or discard them but get help in case the ship feels like it is wayward.

What is next?

Well, the organization I’ve been part of until now is something I’m moving on from over the summer. The guy who would like to take over has already been part of the decision processes. He has been in-charge for now as I focus on my work for the thesis. I’d know in a year or maybe even less whether the ideas I’ve worked on is good or not good. From the looks of it, my friend who has taken over is comfortable with the resources he has and the overview he has been provided at the helm. And I am fairly confident that whatever we’ve created until now can be used. That is quite an achievement from where we were in early 2014.

To be clear, once again, I am not saying all of these would work to actually build continuity. I just feel that you’d need comprehensive measures in such a student-driven organization where the flux is consistent in its periodicity but the magnitude wavers quite a lot. These points here are what seems to be working for our organization. It may work without issues in yours or it may need small to large tweaks in some others. It may just fail in some of the others. But I hope if you are reading this, it is useful for you. I would’ve gladly accepted something like this when I was part of the organization. Until next time: May the force be with you.