How Getting Involved at College can Help you Later

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This week marks the return of undergrads across the country to college campuses. Students are moving to new dorms or apartments and starting new classes with new professors. Many seniors are probably anticipating a great year and are, understandably, not overly worried about the job search that will occur in spring 2011. I say understandably because I was the same way and I think if you talk to most college students you will hear the same response. For many, college is a time to do well in school, internships, and make meaningful friendships. I also think it’s a great opportunity to become involved in extracurricular activities that interest you, personally and professionally.

If you are lucky enough to go to a school with an extensive list of student activities, I suggest you attend an information session or fair at the beginning of the semester to learn which activities may interest you. In my opinion, it’s best to choose something you actually are passionate about – politics, animals, or children to name a few. Then, see what the time commitment is. If you have a full-course load and an internship, you may not be able to commit to a highly-involved activity. On the other hand, this would give you great practice at time management – a highly coveted skill that most professionals tend to lack when entering the working world. Remember how our guidance counselors told us in high school that colleges love extra-curricular involvement? The same can be said for the workplace. I think it’s a good idea to become involved in an activity in a leadership capacity. Not only will this boost your resume, but it will give you something to discuss in an interview. When an interviewer asks you to explain your involvement in a particular activity, you don’t want to say that you “showed up at the meetings.” I’ve seen many resumes where you can tell that college graduates stockpiled activities thinking it would give them an edge. Simply put, it doesn’t. If you want to be involved in something, that’s great news, but actually be involved. It takes me back to my original point – find something you want to do at school and do it. If you make a time commitment, stick to it – if you have the personality of someone who can’t keep their word, work on that in college before you enter the “real” world.

Amy Muldoon graduated from Penn State University in 2005 and worked in corporate public relations for three years before returning to graduate school to become an English teacher. Her strengths include: drafting speeches, writing talking points for media interviews, making corporate presentations, and writing for publications.

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