You will not survive the résumé rumble if your only weapons are a few bullets of skills and a sharp bachelor’s degree. Or an honorable mention. Or even a Latin honor. A side arm and combat knives—meaning extra-curricular activities and experiences—will always help make your employers see (or trick them into thinking) you’re trained and ready to fight. At this point, are you prepared for the on-job training and practicum quests?
I’m not. I’m a bit pistol and knives short. Well, the first page of my résumé commits redundancy with Dean’s Lister, and reads a shiny, sharp “graduated Cum Laude”. But turn next page, all you see are weak—if not crappy—contents enhanced with flattering active verbs. You don’t know how much I wanted to burn the crap; how desperately I hunted for extra-curricular experiences in a crazy timeframe to put some weight to my résumé.
In my freshman year, I’ve always thought of getting 4.0 in all subjects. No extra-curricular activities, because they can wait until schedules get laxer. They never did. There are no busier years than the succeeding years. Requirements become heavier and heavier. After defeating monster minor subjects, the next thing you know, major subjects are now chewing on your neck. There is no free time; you have to buy it—using prioritization funds.
Freshmen, learn from the mistakes champion. If you’re a come-to-school-go-home buddy like me, better break the habit now. Forget the house midday curfew or afternoon anime. Barge in the organization offices now and make sure to join a club. If you have a career in mind now, choose the organization that will best prepare you for it. If you have no calling yet, at least, follow your interest compass. When you’re finally in, be active. Without compromising your academics, grab as many opportunities as you can. Learn how to be a leader.
“Leadership is better than membership” if you are going to believe the famous college planning books authors, Gen and Kelly Tanabe. Well, I do. I say aim for bigger things; be a leader, be a club president, be the student council president. These titles might as well turn into Cupid arrows and pierce right into your employer’s heart.
Fellow graduating students, let’s not lose hope. I am exploring my options. One of them is taking out dear time from final academic project to join events. Gamble, I know. I may also consider extending a term to have more time to earn credentials. But before you copy my intellectual ideas, evaluate yourself and your standing. Can you do these?
Companies don’t only look at your skills and education. They want to see your sense of leadership and level of involvement. If they have a hundred résumés on their hands, the degree of the applicants is definitely already a common denominator; now what will make you stand out is your non-academic involvement.
Invest in the two traits now while you still can. Use the luxury that I forewent, which I’m now plotting to steal from you. It’s easy to incorporate your membership in your résumé, but there’s no escape from interviews. Be sure you actually did what you include. Be honest with your résumé—but don’t declare your Achilles’ heels.
You may not find my story useful today, but I’m telling you, it may be useless tomorrow.