Of course, the best extracurricular activity to improve your chances at a job is an actual job, but when you can’t, or when you want to stay on campus, it’s important to pick extracurricular activities that will pay off in terms of fun, resume building, or network building. But when you’re walking the cafeteria tables at the activity fair, and everyone is earnestly making eye contact for you for clubs ranging from African Dance to Zoophilia (it’s for volunteering at the zoo, you sicko), how can you decide?
Nothing is guaranteed to get you a job, and ultimately, the activities you choose aren’t as important as the roles you take on within them and the ways that you can demonstrate leadership and skill building. Passively attending the Vagina Monologues for Feminist Club is great, but becoming treasurer of the acapella singing group or writing a successful travel grant to help your group compete is even better.
Ultimately, you should sit down and think about what story you want to tell about your skills on your resume or C.V.. Then you should pursue activities that, first and foremost, you value and find fun. Next, infiltrate those organizations and become leader (I mean, join them and become proactive). The important thing is not which activities you choose, but the roles you take on within them, and the . Quirky activities may get you eyeballs, but being able to demonstrate or quantify your achievements will get you further than being able to say you were a warm body in a room: “I started a tutoring program for inner-city youths. By the end of the first year, we matched 10 middle schoolers to tutors and on average, the students’ GPAs improved by half a letter grade.” “After I became treasurer of horseback riding club, I implemented a service program to provide grants to autistic children, and we got a state-level grant for $500 that let us provide 20 hours of lessons to autistic children. I also improved my teaching and speaking abilities while doing this.” See? Even “fun” activities can help you on the job market or at an interview – if you can prove that you developed or honed important skills while doing them. Nothing in life is guaranteed, but demonstrated success and leadership in a few extracurricular activities is far better than simply checking off a list – and in many cases, it’s better to be a big fish in a small pond (i.e., leader of a more obscure club) than just another face in the crowd of a bigger one.
One of our friendly, tweed-wearing Unemployed Professors is happy to help you tame the essay writing monster.