Your semester is just starting, or maybe you're already back into the groove of being back at school. While the first couple weeks of classes may have been a little rough, you finally feel like you have academics under control, and now you’re able to focus on some awesome on-campus activities.
While your main priority at school may be your academics, some of the best parts of college are all of the wonderful extracurriculars you can get involved in! Not only do they give you something else to do besides homework, but on-campus activities can also help you professionally. Whether it’s a couple of academic activities or a service club, being involved on campus gives your resume some personality and substance. Plus, activities can round out your skill set outside the classroom, which is something you always want to highlight. Here are some clubs and groups we suggest you get involved in to boost your resume!
1. Activities related to your major
What better way to complement your academics than with an activity that incorporates your major? There are a lot of clubs on campus that combine what you learn in class with opportunities to explore possible career options.
“A lot of campus clubs are related to career interests; for example, an accounting club,” says Nayelli Perez, career counselor and assistant director of Hofstra University’s career center. “Being a member of [these] campus clubs not only provides … opportunities to meet other students with similar interests, but also provides a chance to meet alumni or employers in the field.”
Future employers will be impressed that you’ve pursued your career interests outside of the classroom as well as the practical skills you’ve gained from them. “Consider what activities will provide you with a chance to expand skills important to the types of jobs you will pursue,” says Tom Dezell, career advisor and author of Networking for the Novice, Nervous, or Naïve Job Seeker. “For example, if you are pursing media work, try to help the university radio station. Should you see yourself working in roles where communication skills are important, join activities that will require you to make speeches or write.”
Additionally, ask your professors if there are any professional associations you can join through your major. Most fields have regional or national associations (like the Public Relations Student Society of America or The American Society of Civil Engineers) that have chapters at many universities.
“[Professional associations] allow students to immediately establish a network of professionals … as well as possibly forming mentorship relationships,” Dezell says.
Most students can join professional organizations at a discounted price and then can attend lectures from prominent speakers in the field or participate in networking events. “It’s a win-win situation,” Dezell says. “Students get to realize the benefits of an association membership early, [which] makes them more likely to remain active as their career progresses.”
No matter what your major is, consider pursing activities related to it outside of the classroom. You can learn more about your potential career field and gain some experience!
2. Clubs you’ve founded
While your school might have a large repertoire of clubs to join, there’s always a chance that it doesn’t offer what you’re truly interested in. Quick fix? Create a new club yourself!
“A unique activity that could help boost your resume could be starting a new campus club that covers a topic of interest to the campus,” Perez says. “Then, on your resume, you could add that you were the founder of the club, which is pretty impressive.”
Inventing a new club shows employers that you can take initiative. “Any activity that reflects growth and accomplishments is impressive,” says Nancy Dudak, the executive director of Villanova University’s Career Center. “The good news is that not all activities need to be career- or professionally related. Growing an organization is impressive.”
Do you and your friends love trying new Pinterest recipes? Start a baking club! Have you read all the Harry Potter books and wish your school was more like Hogwarts? Consider forming a Quidditch team (played on foot, not flying brooms)!
“Students that want to found a new club should to go their campus’s student activities office to ask how they can make that happen,” Perez says. “The important thing to know is that starting a new club on campus is doable, worthwhile, but also a process.”
While every school is different, you’ll most likely have to create a petition of students interested, describe the objectives or goals of the club and possibly outline a budget. Most clubs also require a faculty adviser, so make sure you contact someone early on who’s willing to put in extra time to help your club grow.
The best part is that starting a new club shows off your awesome personality. “It makes you interesting!” Dudak says. “Aligning yourself with an organization that is wrapped around an interest or hobby further develops this interest and fills you with energy.” Your new activity will make you happy and boost your resume in awesome ways!
3. Organizations you lead
One of the main benefits of being involved in on-campus activities is the set of skills you develop from them. “No matter what career path [you] choose, landing a job will require [you] to show skills and abilities beyond academics,” Dezell says. And one of the most common skills employers look for across the board is leadership.
“Leadership positions are very important to highlight on a resume because employers view them as predictors of future behavior,” Dudak says. “If you are a leader in your current environment, it's likely that you will continue to seek leadership opportunities. The great thing is that these leadership experiences can be found in any number of places—student organizations, class projects, service projects, at jobs and internships.”
Not sure how to gain a leadership position? “Try to join at least one or two campus clubs as early as possibly in your college career,” Perez suggests. “The sooner you start, the more time you have to make an impact … and have a shot of making it to its [executive board.]”
Become an active member of your club by participating in discussions, volunteering to help at events or fundraisers and just putting 100 percent into whatever task you’re given. The executive board will remember your hard work and dedication, which can help you land a leadership position later on. Leadership can help you in any career, so take advantage of leadership opportunities while you’re in college!
4. Service groups
Another way to contribute to a stellar resume is getting involved in service activities. Giving back and getting involved in your community is always a way to impress your future employers.
“Service to your community demonstrates your interest in improving, that your world is bigger than your immediate circle,” Dudak says. “That’s very impressive [to employers].”
Depending on what field you’re considering, service can also potentially seal the deal for a job or internship. Kathleen Welch, a senior at the University of Delaware, landed an internship partly because of her service experience. “I had a phone interview with a nonprofit organization, and they asked me specifically about my involvement with Habitat for Humanity,” Kathleen says. “The employers were impressed by my experiences and said I would fit well with their company’s mission. I got the internship shortly after.”
Besides nonprofit organizations, service can be beneficial for a number of other careers and companies. “There are plenty of opportunities to tie your career interests to specific service projects,” Dudak says. “[For example], an education student could work with children or youth, an accounting student could assist with pro bono tax returns, a political science student could support a city project.”
To make your service activities stand out on your resume, add some extra details about your experience. “Beyond just listing the groups by name, try to include numbers that reflect the size and scope of the activity,” Dezell says. “Some examples [may include] people served, funds raised [and] outreach.”
While community service helps others and makes you feel good, it can also be an asset to your resume!
Whether you’re interested in learning more about your major through an academic club or trying something new in a unique organization, on-campus activities can strengthen your resume and make you stand out to employers. No matter what you like to do with your free time, go out and get involved!