Every campus bulletin board is plastered with fliers advertising for clubs, organizations and honoraries, but with work, class and studying on your schedule, you don’t have time for much else. How do you know which extracurriculars are worth the investment and which ones aren’t? Start by looking for activities that will give you valuable experience in your field.
Make the Laws: Model Governments and Mock Trials
If you’re preparing for a career in political science, government or law, take a Model United Nations, Model Senate or mock trial course. These classes first teach you about how the government works, whether on an international stage or in a local courtroom. Then the instructor gives you the opportunity to apply what you’ve learned. In model government courses, you attend an intercollegiate competition at which you’re responsible for emulating a specific country or senator. In mock trial courses, you argue individual cases in the classroom or in a competitive setting. Model government and mock trial cases are critical resumé-builders; these classes demonstrate that you understand your own interests and are dedicated to a field you know well.
Make the Rounds: Clinicals
Whether you’re in a medical assisting educational program or studying to become a nurse, clinicals are critical to your training. During clinicals, you’re stationed in a hospital and assigned to a medical professional, who guides you as you handle real-world situations. You make actual decisions about patient care, and you administer treatment. Of course, your supervisor is always watching, ready to correct any mistakes. Clinical rounds, which expose you to all of a hospital’s departments, are also crucial to choosing a future career specialization. When you’re ready to apply for a job, it’s important to refer to your clinicals as a learning experience that helped you identify your specific interests and gain experience in the field.
Make the Grade: Subject-Specific Honoraries
There are dozens of honoraries at every college; if you have the grades, you’ve probably received your fair share of invites. Don’t join an honorary just to list it on your resumé. Choose a subject-specific organization, such as Sigma Tau Delta in English, and become an active member of the group. Run for secretary, volunteer for fundraisers or just attend every meeting. Anyone with good grades can fill out an honorary’s registration form. Future employers want to see that you’re an ambitious person who makes a difference in the organizations you join, so once you sign up, get involved.
Make a Difference: Tutoring
Most colleges sponsor learning centers or study halls that require a steady influx of tutors. Consider signing up for one of these positions, especially if you’re interested in becoming a teacher or professor after graduation. Tutors learn new educational skills by instructing a wide variety of students. Clients may be native English speakers, or English may be their second or third language. They may be fluent in mathematical concepts or they may not understand a word of their calculus course’s vocabulary. Tutoring forces you to teach to each individual student, and this skill is the basic building block of your educational career.
The next time you check out your campus bulletin board, you’ll know which extracurriculars to pick and which ones to skip. Focus on activities that are relevant to your career path and that pique your interests. Once you’ve joined, stay active and involved so you’re creating a meaningful experience, not just a line on a resumé.