My senior year has arrived! That’s right, folks. With a college degree, I will no longer have to use the “some college” option for online job applications, I can get a job teaching English overseas that pays for more than my Cup Ramen, and I can finally join the Peace Corps!
I am finally somewhat marketable, but the new marketability has not strictly been caused by my imminent graduation. Over the past few years, opportunities were offered that encouraged a proactive approach to college credentials. These opportunities appeared in the form of clubs and organizations on and off the college campus, which allowed me to build a working skill set while developing an understanding for the kind of work that suits me.
Building college credentials may seem difficult, especially if you attend a large university, but a few tips should keep the effort in perspective.
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Most clubs and organizations on campus actively recruit for the first month of a semester, which means many invitations to get involved on campus will literally walk up to students.
Although unpacking at the residence hall and maintaining pre-collegiate relationships is important, do not ignore invitations to visit a club’s orientation meeting. You have the opportunity to learn the purpose of the organization, which could match your hobbies or interests. Campus organizations introduce students to a wider range of classmates through a common interest or hobby, so you have the opportunity to make faster and stronger friendships through campus club recruitment.
As an added bonus, you usually receive some form of refreshment, food, and/or college memorabilia as a welcoming gift, a tactic which will become significantly more appealing as your college years continue and your bank account dwindles.
When in Rome, Do As the Romans Do
Go with your friends to their club meetings. If someone you get along with on campus is interested in a campus organization, then the chances are favorable that you will be interested in what is happening there.
This also applies to visiting organizations with friends at other universities: most colleges have a core of similar organizations, e.g. student government, major-specific Greek societies, campus spirit organizations, and language clubs, so you should be able to find an equivalent organization at your own college. As long as the request does not go against any strong personal convictions, then the chance to observe an organization’s meeting should be seen as an adventure.
Become a Trailblazer
If your college does not offer a club that peaks your interests, then make your own campus organization. Campus clubs and organizations rarely reflect the full interests of every student at a college or university, so many college campuses allow students to petition for new clubs.
Depending on the campus, the process to establish an official club could be long and tedious. On a positive note, you will have an organization that fulfills your interests and the excellent resume booster of establishing a recognized club on campus. Even if the organization is not recognized by the campus, the unofficial gathering of students will introduce you to a more people that share a common interest.
Get Out More Often
Find what you want to be a part of off-campus. Do not treat this option as a last resort. Colleges want their students to become involved in the community: student involvement in the community builds up the surrounding neighborhoods and, through the diligence of the students, either confirms a college’s good name or gives it a better one.
Also, getting involved with positive organizations off-campus shows potential employers that a student has transferable skills and strong initiative. Information about various off-campus organizations sponsored by or endorsed by the school should be available at the career center, on cork boards around campus, and at request from almost anyone on campus.
For a more organic approach, taking a trip into the urban sprawl near your campus will allow you to see which of the community’s needs feel the most pressing, e.g. help for the homeless population, environmental protection, and mentoring children.
Of course, college clubs and organizations are not strictly about professional and community advancement. College provides the opportunity to explore an interest with minimal expense when compared to the available resources: college is one of the only times in your life where you can be a member of the skydiving club, referee for the chess club, the French club’s secretary, and the Anime club’s president without anyone openly questioning your dedication. By exploring options on and off campus, however, you give yourself room to establish and affirm interests and hobbies as an adult.