Career counselor shares 5 reasons why campus involvement equals stronger resumes
As employers receive more applications every year, many of their baseline standards for have changed. They’re not necessarily simply seeking the top students with the best grade point average anymore. Although those factors remain important, employers are looking for a more well-rounded workforce—a staff who is motivated, but also shows leadership, time commitment and initiative demonstrated through involvement in extra-curricular activities.
La’Quinta Payne, a career counselor in University of Houston-Clear Lake’s Career Services, said it’s important for students to be involved on campus because it builds leadership skills and exposure. She shares five ways students may be positively impacted by joining a student organization.
1. Building your network. Making connections, meeting new people, and building relationships will all help when applying for a job. Payne said that many student organizations are professionally focused and host events with access to local professionals. “Students never know who they are going to meet and collaborate with. Building connections with the right people at the right time could be the key to taking their careers to the next level,” she said. Employers will be excited to hire someone who has extracurricular experience, and has been active throughout their college career outside of the classroom.
2. Making new friends. “You have to find your group in order to feel like you are making a difference to your campus environment,” she said. “Join organizations that align with your interests. You’ll meet like-minded individuals and learn a lot from them. For example, if a student is interested in astronomy, join the Physics and Astronomy Club.” This allows students to form lifelong friendships, and expand their social circles.
3. Building hard skills and soft skills. “Employers not only want to see that you excelled in your courses, they also want to see other skills, such as interpersonal skills,” she said. “How do you communicate with others? How do you connect with your peers or coworkers? Do you work well with a team?”
Students gain this experience, and develop strong “people skills” by being involved on campus. Students can learn how to communicate with both individuals and large groups. Payne advised to go beyond just being a participating member, but serve in a leadership role. “Oversee a project, connect with external partners, join an executive board,” she said.
4. Continuous learning. Often, the best learning happens outside of the typical classroom setting. “Without joining organizations, students may not be privy to certain information, occupations and opportunities. The knowledge they can obtain is so vast from being involved on campus,” she said. “There are processes to everything. Students can learn the different processes of organizations and what they do on campus.”
5. Finding your place. “Students that are more involved on campus are more likely to return, and are most likely to graduate because they have a sense of belonging,” she said. “That is something I personally struggled with in my first year of going to college. I didn’t feel like I belonged or that I found my niche because I wasn’t involved on campus. As I began to get involved that made all the difference.”
Payne said she found groups that were right for her and discovered her likes and dislikes. She added that students learning their goals, passions and strengths leads to self-awareness that will be beneficial in their future careers.
For more information about UHCL’s student organizations and how to get involved on campus, visit www.uhcl.edu/student-affairs/student-engagement/student-involvement/student-organizations/.