Carrying ‘Extra’ Weight in the Job Search

  Brandi Boatner

College students and recent graduates should be aware of a common myth faced during your academic career. Myth: Extra-curricular activities in high school were good enough but in college they aren’t really a big deal.

You might think, who has time to join dozen of clubs and organizations, going to several meetings a week when you’re trying to schedule and balance time for classes, studying, working part-time, dating and maintaining a social life right? Wrong.

Unfortunately, many college students have limited outside activity involvement and feel their degree is all that is needed to get a job after college. PR students do join organizations like PRSSA for professional development and networking opportunities but what else are they involved in?

As you search for jobs while either still in school or post-graduation, understand the value of extra-curricular activities and the weight they hold on your resume to a prospective employer or HR recruiter.

During my undergraduate studies, I was a member of PRSSA but was too “cool” to attend meetings or join the champion Bateman Team at Loyola University New Orleans. When I entered graduate school, my entire outlook changed. I became involved in more than half a dozen organizations (not necessarily related to PR or communications) on campus and served on three executive boards. I also extended my university involvement to community involvement while still going to classes, working 30 hours a week, going to the beach with friends, researching, studying, dating and having a social life.

As the fall term quickly approaches and organizational fairs occur on campus, sign up and join a club. You can also volunteer in your community. Extra curricular activities make you a well-rounded individual and also give you a competitive advantage in a competitive industry.

Brandi Boatner is immediate past national president of PRSSA.  She’s a recent MA graduate of Hawaii Pacific University and is actively engaged in a full-time job search. 

4 comments on this post.
  1. Jarrett:

    Hi Brandi,

    Last year, I worked as an account executive for our school’s newspaper. I had a blast, made many friends and worked like a dog. And even though advertising sales is really more of a salesman position instead of public relations, I feel like I retained a good understanding of salesmanship (the foundation of any business) and a firm grounding in the language of business.

    Now, as I enter my final year of undergrad [cue the audience gasp!], I am trying to get more involved in some extracurricular activities that put my classroom knowledge in public relations to work. I’m becoming more involved with the build-up of our student-run public relations firm and part of our schools student government communications team.

    I am going to enjoy my last year to its fullest by having that right combination of extracurricular activities that show off my skills and just plain ole fun with my friends.

    Thanks for the post.

    Jarrett

  2. Kion:

    Brandi,

    I completely agree with you. It is extremely important for students (especially PR) to be involved on campus. Student organizations molded me into the leader that I am. They allow you to “practice” being a professional.

    I definitely encourage being involved in several organizations. Throughout my college tenure, I served as an SGA Senator, BSU Vice-President, Delta Epsilon Chi (DECA) President, Toastmasters member, PRSSA President, and currently serve on PRSSA’s Nat’l Committee. Without these experiences, I would not be close to where I am today.

  3. Mark:

    Unless the experience/activity is directly applicable to the job I am interviewing the candidate for, it really doesn’t have much significance with me. My core focus during the hiring process is on the candidates ability to perform the job effectively. If I were to have two candidates that were identical (which I have yet to see happen), then I might look to some of the extra fluff to sort out between them.

    So, unless the activity is related to your core professional skills, I wouldn’t count on it making much of a difference.

    To keep it in perspective, I am one hiring manager of the millions out there!

  4. Volunteerism: A Resume Differentiator:

    […] has frequently recommended, volunteer activities will enhance your resume.  Brandi Boatner wrote a guest post two years ago that strongly recommended that students take full advantage of volunteer […]

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