College is an opportunity for students to experience new things and explore personal interests, including what you choose to study. Deciding on a major is a something a lot of students struggle with--by getting involved on campus, students can step outside of their comfort zone and really find out what makes them tick, gaining useful experience along the way. Here are seven extracurricular activities that could open doors for your future and help you decide what career to pursue.
Student government: For students looking to become an executive someday, they could gain valuable experience playing an active role in their student government association (as well as improve life on campus). Many pre-law, political science, and economics majors take part in student government to hone their decision-making skills, but student government participation is also on the rise for unlikely majors such as nursing, according to Butch Oxendine, executive director of the American Student Government Association.
“A lot of what they do can be quantified and put into a form that can help them with job opportunities,” says Oxendine. “In many cases, I would argue that that experience is far more valuable than the academic degree.”
Newspaper/Magazine: If you have a passion for printed word, joining the campus paper is a great way to get your name published and build a reputation. English and journalism majors can gain useful experience writing for the university’s newspaper, magazine, or other publications and build a solid portfolio.
Sorority/Fraternity: While there are many social aspects about pledging a Greek organization, there are a multitude of opportunities and roles that display leadership tendencies as well. Whether you’re the treasurer in charge of all of the organization’s funds, head of philanthropy that organizes events, or president of your business fraternity, students of a variety of majors can show future employers that they acquired valuable leadership, people and organizing skills.
Intramural Sports: Many job openings call for a candidate who is a team player, so why not build on those skills while having fun? Students of all majors can enjoy and benefit from working together toward a common goal. Unless you served as team captain showing off your leadership and coordinating capabilities, you may want to leave intramural sports off of your resume, but you can refer to your days on the field if it is relevant in an interview to demonstrate your team building skills.
Volunteering: Giving back to the community and helping others in need can make a difference both in the lives of the less fortunate and your own personal growth. Early and middle childhood education majors can gain valuable practice time working with and tutoring kids, but all majors can reap the benefits of pitching in.
“Experience is something that every employer is looking for, and while you’re just coming out into the job market or you’re in college, volunteering is a way to gain that experience without being hired on to do it,” says Fran Larkin, program coordinator at the Center for Community Engagement at the University of Cincinnati. “Whenever you’re volunteering with a non-profit organization in the community, you’re going to take away some soft skills--people skills that you might not have.”
Multicultural activities: Many colleges offer a range of multicultural extracurricular activities to celebrate and expose students to different cultures from around the world. Students from all backgrounds can experience festivals, lectures, concerts and theatrical performances to promote multi-cultural awareness. Whether you’re an anthropology or Latin history major, or if you’re just interested in the social norms of different cultures, students can gain both personal and academic enlightenment by attending these activities.
Academic/Professional organizations: Finding an academic or professional organization in your field of study and connecting with others who share your interests can offer great networking opportunities. Organizations such as the American Marketing Association, the Society for Professional Journalists, and the Hispanic Business Student Association may have chapters on your campus—explore what options are available to you both locally and nationally.
When it comes to finding a job after graduation, it’s not all about your major. Students can beef up their resume and experience with strong extracurricular activities that can improve their chances of landing a full-time job.