On the list of phrases college students hate to hear the most, “no work experience” is without a doubt near the top. Although now we understand that being hired right out of college isn’t impossible and having no experience might even work to your advantage, the fact is that without a relevant job or internship to put on your resumé, the job search can feel stressful.
If you’re struggling to figure out which extracurriculars will help you gain work experience in no time, here’s a list of extracurricular activities you can capitalize on for gaining crazy valuable (and rare) skills desired by pretty much every employer.
1. Student Representative in Larger Organizations
While sometimes a bit difficult to find, there are school clubs and groups which are led by professors and staff members but cater to students, and they are always seeking student perspectives. For example, when I served as the student rep at my college for M3S (Minority Mentoring in Math & Science) and WiSM (Women in Mathematics & Science), I participated in panel discussions as the student speaker and provided leaders with input on event titles and services desired by students.
This form of extracurricular activity is taken seriously during the job search. Confident people who know the value behind their experiences and opinions are strong assets to businesses, and employers know that. Show yourself as someone who has a passion for the field, who knows the value of their opinion, comes up with fantastic ideas and who isn’t intimidated or afraid to play with the big dogs.
2. Student Government (or a Different Student-Run Association)
Companies are always looking for great applicants who can represent the company brand, and represent it well. Start practicing what it takes to speak on behalf of a team by being a part of your school’s student government. Both these student-run organizations come together to make important and sometimes critical decisions for a school, but they can’t do it alone. Whether you’re simply a representative for your class year or your residence hall, it will be your job to research the needs and wants of other students, bring them to important meetings with school staff and leaders and then play a part in implementing change!
In a day and age where customer relations is the backbone of most successful businesses, employers are willing to pursue applicants who can demonstrate an ability to see the people, hear the people and most importantly act on their behalf. Let your list of extracurriculars demonstrate just that.
3. Intramural Sports Teams
Intramural sports are considered one of the most popular forms of extracurricular activity, but they’re often underestimated in terms of the value they can add to your professional image.
Teamwork has forever and always been considered one of the most valuable skills sought by employers in the workplace. In addition to teamwork, other skills come into play, including recognizing and focusing on your strengths, delegation, and work-life balance. Sure, having “2016 Intramural Rugby MVP” on your resumé won’t automatically get you hired, but the skills you gained to earn that title just might.
Somewhere in your school, someone is looking for help in exactly what you’re majoring in, and that’s good news if you’re looking to gain new skills.
The best tutors are masters of articulation, written and verbal communication, technological competencies (if sessions are done online), active listening, critical and creative thinking and showing the ability to master a skill.
5. Create Your Own
Few things in this world will catch the eye of an employer quite as quick as saying you founded a team, club or student organization during your college tenure.
For instance, I noticed a high demand for academic help with my friends and an underutilized study hall (along with a severe lack of extracurriculars on my resumé), so I started a tutoring program right inside my residence hall, “by residents, for residents”! Here’s another example: My sister wanted to compete in national dance competitions while in school, so she and a friend created a professional Latin dance team.
Seek out a university staff or faculty member who functions in your area of interest. Read up on your school’s guidelines for campus organizations and how to begin one. Even if your first sign-up sheets have to be sheets of loose-leaf paper taped on bathroom mirrors with a pen tied to it (no shame), then so be it. Your future career will regret nothing.
Show employers that when you see a need, you do something about it. Companies always look for people who are great at forming innovative ideas, who are experienced in methods of recruitment and marketing, who are natural born leaders and managers of both teams and of time, and so much more.
So, what are you waiting for? Whether you’re a freshman or a senior, it is not too early or too late to begin cultivating the skills and experiences for attaining your dream job. Don’t let a lack of industry experience stand in your way any longer. Make your extracurricular experiences count today and say “hello” to your future career!