How to Choose Extracurricular Activities to Get Ahead

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You’ve heard it before that extracurriculars are important, but did you know that they are a great way to gain experience that could help you land a job or internship? At the beginning of the school year you’re bombarded with opportunities to join and try out for different organizations and groups on campus. Going into a club fair can feel a lot like walking into a career fair because there are many options that require you to do a bit of  research before arriving. How do you figure out which clubs are right for you and will help you on your career path? The most important things to keep in mind when choosing a club are making sure that you are passionate about it and making time for it in your schedule.

Here are a few tips to help you join the right groups that could provide you with great opportunities:

  • Do what interests you, not what you think looks good on paper.

  • Do your research.

  • Don’t overcommit yourself.

  • Become a leader.

1. What are you interested in?

There are probably dozens of clubs at your school and even more opportunities in the greater city or town. Before you commit to the first organization that asks you to sign up, ask yourself what you’re really interested in. College is the perfect time to try something new and figure out what you want to do in your career. The Entrepreneurs Club won’t necessarily be a good experience unless you are actually passionate about the topic. A dance or music group might prove more useful for making friends and building connections, if that’s more your thing.

2. Do your research.

BOSS Barnard Organization of Soul Sisters | Facebook

Know what clubs and organizations are at your school. Find their pages on social media sites and event reviews in your school newspaper to see if you’re interested in participating. Social media is also a great way to ask members questions before you decide to join. If you are unsure about a group, you can also try out meetings to see if the club meshes with your personality and will be a good use of your time.

3. Don’t overcommit yourself.

Clubs and organizations are supplements to what you’re learning in the classroom. Some meetings can run late and volunteer events can be early in the morning. Participation will require you to manage your time effectively and sometimes make sacrifices. Since school is your first priority, you must ask yourself if you have time to attend meetings and events. Committing to being an active member of a few groups will likely provide you with more benefits than being an occasional member of many groups.

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4. Become a leader and connect with members.

Once you go to a few meetings and decide that you want to invest in the club, volunteer to take on leadership roles. Help plan a fundraiser or put up flyers. You might not be able to have a full leadership role until the following year, but you can still help out and become an integral member of the club. Members and alumni can be helpful resources in your internship or job hunt because they can connect you to even more people. Clubs are great opportunities to expand your network, interests, and career prospects. You should be picky about which ones you join because they will have an impact on how you spend your time and could even affect what you do in the future.

5. Put those skills to work.

Clubs and groups are great opportunities to get involved, get connected, and get ahead in your career. Extracurricular activities can teach you skills that are transferable and appealing to employers. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, some of the top skills that employers look for are: leadership, problem solving skills, and the ability to work on a team. All of these key skills can be learned through club and group participation. Planning fundraisers gives you event planning skills, sending out newsletters teaches you about email marketing, and managing social media sites teaches you about community building.

The last step of getting extracurriculars to help your career is putting your experience into words. The “Interests” section of your resume should mention which clubs you’re involved in and the applicable skills you gained. Providing information about your extracurricular activities is a great way to market your skills and show how qualified you are.

Photo Credit: W+J Family via Flickr

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Photo Credit: Michael Cardus via Flickr

 

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