Extracurricular Activities for Career Success
By: James Cashman
Posted on Monday, November 5, 2018
Students regularly ask how important non-classroom activities are for college admissions and scholarships. Let’s stretch our focus a little and instead look at the question, “How important are non-classroom activities for career success?”
Academics should be the primary priority for all students. Extracurricular activities also serve a purpose: they are an extra way to give students real-world experience.
Here are some tips for making the most of your extracurricular activities.
Organize extracurriculars around your career.
Many students organize their non-classroom time around friends only. This can hurt in the long-run!
Consider starting with the end in mind. What can you see yourself doing for a career? Is it nursing? Engineering? Owning a business? Plan your high school activities around your intended profession. This doesn’t mean you’re locked in! A robotics club looks good on any job application – but it looks really great on apps for computer science, engineering, IT, and design jobs.
Similarly, if you’re working through high school, find a job that is preparing you for the future. If you’re considering a career in education, begin tutoring in high school, teaching Sunday school classes, or assisting with an elementary school teacher.
- Visit and job shadow professionals in your field.
- Work with organizations that support your passions.
Go above and beyond (get to know hard-workers).
As you explore your career path and get involved with organizations in the field, take responsibility for your own development. Part of every college application is a reference – so earn a great one! You can do this by committing to showing great work ethic. Adopting professional manners – like arriving on time, dressing for the job, and documenting your work in detail – are all good methods to show your investment.
- Be the first to arrive and the last to leave.
- Get to know the leadership.
- Ask for references from people who know your work.
Major state universities may receive 40,000+ applications in a given year. How many of those students ONLY participated in the “Big 4” high school groups – the arts, National Honor Society, athletics, or student government? (Hint: a lot.)
Make your application stand out by working with a specific organization or job in your area. Admissions professionals, scholarship panels, and, most importantly, employers all agree – if you can differentiate yourself from other applicants, you are more likely to win. Above all, do what gives you satisfaction! Old wisdom says that if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life.
- Create your own adventure – find your place in your community.
- Make friends with people who are different than you.
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