Student Organizations: More than just going to meetings

By Mark Wilson, Director of Employer Relations & Technology

Recently, I had a great meeting with a second semester freshman about transitioning from engineering to business. This student was seeking information on what he could be doing right now to make himself more attractive to employers and get ready for the job search.  He was asking all the right questions and I wish we all had the self-awareness he has to seek information early whenever take on a new challenge in life.

One of his questions was what are employers looking for in college students.  There is a list of things every employer wants, and at or near the top, leadership always makes the list.  For many of us, looking for leadership is interpreted as I need to be president of a student organization.  However this in not the case, leadership should be interpreted as meaning involved and making a difference.  That is the key to joining a student organization to help build your resume.  When you join, get involved and do something.  Sadly, many students join organizations and barely attend the meetings while thinking this is what being involved means.  Any recruiter can read between lines of your resume and see the difference between true participation and simply showing up.

If you are going to join a student organization to build your resume, get involved and gain some leadership experience.  For example, a student described to me how as freshman she took on the role of concessions chair for a fund-raising event.  As chair, she organized volunteers to work the concession stand, planned a menu and shopped for food, and managed a million other details for the concession stand team.  In the end, her work raised almost $2,000 for her student organization.  This is a great example of leadership through involvement and will be very appealing to employers when they see it on her resume or when they hear her talk about it in her interviews.  Remember, you do not have to be the president of a student organization to gain the all important leadership experience employers are seeking.  Simply get involved and find a way to contribute.

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