Most college campuses offer a dizzying array of clubs and organizations to fit just about every interest, talent, personal preference and career goal a student could possibly have. If you joined each group that struck your fancy, you could easily end up spending all your time rushing to meetings or participating in special events, with little time left for academics, sports, or just kicking back and hanging out. So if you’re worried about having enough time for other activities, you should get involved in those campus organizations that are most likely to help you build skills and experience relevant to your future career goals.
Narrow Your Focus
Extracurriculars can be great résumé builders. The key is to target a possible career direction and then identify the organizations or positions within an organization that will point you in that direction. For example, if you think a career in finance is in your future, then serving as treasurer of an organization or club, no matter what the nature of the group, can be a real boon to your résumé. Similarly, handling the publicity for an event can get you one step closer to a career in advertising or public relations. And writing the newsletter for an organization or school paper, regardless of the subjects you write about, will help you build a portfolio of press clips for a career in journalism.
Show Your Commitment
Sometimes, involvement in a campus organization is not so much a skills builder as it is a show of commitment to a particular career field. Participating in the Economics Club shows future corporate employers that you mean business. Involvement in student government shows a serious interest in politics or public service. Tutoring fellow students or people off campus not only helps you learn how to teach, but it also demonstrates your desire to educate others.
Hone Your Skills and Get Leadership Experience
As you select your extracurricular activities, keep these guidelines in mind:
- Identify the skills needed for your target career field and look for positions within campus organizations that will allow you to hone those skills.
- If you aren’t certain of your future career direction, view campus organizations as a way to explore various types of jobs and fields in order to help with your career decisions.
- Try to hold an office within an organization rather than being only a member; employers love leadership experience.
- If you don’t have time to hold an office in an organization (or if you don’t get elected or appointed to one), look for other leadership opportunities, such as heading up committees for special events.
- Aim for variety in your extracurricular experiences throughout your college years. Most employers like to hire grads who can show they’ve worked with a wide range of people in a variety of settings and who have well-rounded interests.
Membership in campus organizations is just as important a component of your overall experience as are part-time jobs and internships. Chosen wisely, and carried out with enthusiasm, involvement on campus can strengthen a résumé as well as any off-campus experience can, and it can introduce you to people whom you may not otherwise have met.