Involvement in extracurricular activities provides students with opportunities to meet and connect with others, explore areas of interest, and contribute to their campus and community. It also serves as a resume builder, as involvement allows college students to differentiate themselves from their peers in the job search.
As a career advisor, I have seen a trend of students getting involved in everything under the sun versus thinking strategically about how they will be spending their time outside of the classroom. Employers want to see involvement; however they are looking for students who are intentional about what types of experiences they are engaging in.
So what are employers looking for in the activities and/or involvement section of your resume?
While it is great to be a member of an organization, employers want to see leadership within the groups you are a part of. Not only does this showcase the fact that you possess leadership skills; it also shows that you were able to grow and flourish in a student organization (and will hopefully be able to do the same in their company).
Commitment to the profession
While all student involvement is good, having experience in a professional association versus a purely social group holds more weight on your resume. This is where the strategy piece enters the equation; what types of organizations are you getting involved in and how will they held develop you as a professional? For example, if I was working with a public relations major debating between joining the PRSSA or the campus Quidditch team (and only had time for one), I would advise them to get involved in the former, as it demonstrates their commitment to the PR field and employers want to see that you are genuinely interested in/dedicated to the profession.
Listing activities and involvement on your resume are good, but are you able to articulate the value you are gaining from these experiences in your bullet points? Don’t just list what you did; employers want to know want to hear about your accomplishments and skills developed as a part of these student organizations.
Remember–employers value quality over quantity when it comes to student involvement. If you are strategic in your involvement and seek out valuable leadership experiences, you will be able to set yourself apart from the competition and catch the eye of the campus recruiter.
Heather serves as a Career Advisor for Loyola University Chicago’s Career Development Center. In her role, she assists students and alumni with their overall career development through individual counseling, group workshops, and in the classroom via her Career and Life Planning Lab. Heather’s areas of expertise within the career space include networking, social media engagement, ePortfolios, resumes, and personal branding. Prior to working in Career Services, Heather worked for Sony Music in the areas of Marketing, Sales, and Promotion.She received her BA in Communication & Culture from Indiana University and her MA in Higher Education & Student Affairs from The Ohio State University – GO BUCKS! You can connect with Heather on Twitter and LinkedIn.