The Importance of Extra-Curricular Activities for Career Development
I am delighted to introduce my second guest blogger, Whitney. Whitney is completing her fourth year in an Honours Specialization in English Language & Literature at Huron. She served as the editor-in-chief of the Grapevine Magazine for the past two years, and volunteered at Western’s Gazette, Grubstreet, the GetLit Society, We Eat Films, and CHRW Radio over the course of her four years at Huron. She will be studying Public Relations at Humber College next year. Welcome Whitney!
Getting involved within your scholastic community is not only one of the best ways to network and build friendships, but it can also help you develop new skills that will be valuable when applying for employment opportunities and graduate programs. Today’s job market climate is particularly competitive, which is why it is important that university students do not depend on their degree alone to land them the position of their dreams.
Employers are often looking for a particular set of skills: Interpersonal, Organizational, Communication, Design, Leadership, Sales, etc. Furthermore, they will want to know how and when you have effectively applied these skills in the past. If you don’t have a lot of job experience, however, it can be difficult to think of instances where you have demonstrated good leadership skills, aside from forming a Biz 1220 study group.
This is when extra-curricular activities become beneficial.
How much is too much?
At university you will likely cross paths with an individual who is not only a pre-Ivey candidate, but is also at the top of their class, captain of their water-polo team, volunteer at Hospice, Starbucks barista, student council president, and leader of the History Society. You watch these people in awe as they effortlessly dart around campus between classes and appointments. Accept that these go-getters are likely freaks of nature, and do not force yourself to emulate them.
It is easy to take on too many responsibilities. When this happens, students often become anxious and overwhelmed by all of their obligations. It is important to remember that your first priority while at school is not your part-time job, your student club, or your social life—it is your education. We pay a staggering one thousand dollars per credit to go to class. By getting too involved and spreading yourself thin you are not doing yourself, your education, your OSAP loan, or your club members/teammates any justice. Students are under enough pressure to perform as it is. Only bite off as much as you can chew and do not try to substitute extra-curriculars for academics.
Which ECA is for you?
Be selective during clubs week. Only pick one or two clubs based on your interests, and apply for a titled position where possible (President, Chief Financial Officer, Captain, Communications Director, Editor, Activities Coordinator, etc.). These positions will look much better than “Participant” or “Club Member” to employers, because titles require a degree of responsibility, leadership, and interpersonal skills.
Try to get involved in clubs that are within your career field. If you want to get into politics or a career that will require public speaking, join a debate team. If you want to get into communication or journalism, write for your school’s paper. Want to be a photographer? Take snapshots for your student council, yearbook committee, or student publication. There are ample ways to fill your portfolio. It is just a matter of discovering which extra-curriculars will be valuable additions to your resume.
Thankfully, Huron University College fosters a great environment for both academic and extra-curricular growth by offering a wide range of clubs.
Opportunities at Huron
The Grapevine Magazine, for example, is a great way to build a portfolio while learning how to write journalistic articles, design layouts, administrate websites, and gain leadership experience as an editor. Huron also offers opportunities for students interested in community development and social justice issues. The WUSC Committee aims to heighten student awareness of local and global issues and organizes fundraisers for a variety of social causes. For those who have a sense of humour and enjoy dramatic arts, the Huron Underground Dramatic Society (HUDS) allows students to use their creativity in sketch comedy shows and improvisation exercises.
There are even academically-based clubs, like the History Society, Get Lit Society, or Psychology Association, which help students network within their academic discipline. The HPA, Huron Psych Association, for example, offers tutoring sessions, guest speakers, and mixers where students and professors can interact outside of the classroom setting. Other clubs include the Huron Comic Book Collective, Campus for Christ, and the Hapkido Club. If all of these fail to appeal to your interests, you always have the option of starting a new club. New clubs crop up each year, and the students who create them have the opportunity to gain valuable leadership skills and a Presidential title.
Huron’s Student Council also appoints over fifty leadership positions each year. If you are interested in business, try applying for the Vice President of Finance, Marketing Commissioner, or Promotions Commissioner positions. Have a passion for fashion or planning parties? The Fashion Show and Formals Commissioner positions allow students to use their business, organizational, leadership, and creative skills to provide students with entertaining events.
To find out more information regarding the positions within student council, please refer to this link: http://myhuron.ca/?page_id=18.