Non-academic activities to help land you a job
When you’re fresh out of school, it can be hard to figure out what to put on your CV
Written by Evelyn Coffin
Voices - Advice
Young people share advice based on their experiences.
Academics aren’t everything; in fact, it’s good for you to be involved in things beyond just your studies. A wide range of interests and activities not only improves your life, it’ll improve your job prospects, too. Here are a few ideas for non-academic activities that prospective employers like to see, and how you can capitalise on what you’re already doing.
The broad term “extracurriculars” can cover a lot of things: sports, dance, equestrian team, drama, band, chess club, the list is nearly endless. The point is, if you’re involved in it, and have devoted a lot of time to it, your employers will want to hear about it. Show them what you learned: sports might prove you’re a team player, dance shows you’re disciplined, theatre tells them that you’re able to direct or take direction. Don’t be shy about talking about what each activity taught you, and what you did, and use specific examples, like: “served as team captain;” “attended dance classes twice a week;” “directed three plays,” etc.
Part-time or summer jobs
Summer jobs aren’t just a great way to earn money, they’re a good way to get job experience, as well. You could work anywhere, really, and it will still show that you’re willing to work, and willing to work hard. Internships also look good on resumes, for the same reasons.
Whether it’s with a church group, your family, or on your own, volunteering is a valuable activity. Volunteering can also give you work experience, but more importantly, it shows that you want to give back. Find a cause you care about—planting trees, helping the homeless, women’s education—and see what you can do to help out around your community, or even join a global movement.
Student government, or another leadership role
Service within the student body is also a good move, particularly if you have political aspirations. Furthermore, it’s a way to actually make a difference at your school! Being elected as a representative of any organisation—whether it’s a school representative, or a leadership role in one of the clubs you’re in — also shows you care, and that you’re willing to be responsible. If your interests aren’t well-represented, you could also take the initiative, and start your own club or organization.
Do you have a blog? Believe it or not, your blog could be a stepping stone into a media-based job. For the most part, the content doesn’t really matter, provided it’s professional (and it helps if it’s gained some attention); if you’ve worked hard on it, and care, it’s a valuable skill. Similarly, you could write for your local newspaper, or get involved with your school or college’s radio station: once again, you’re getting work experience in the form of entertainment.
Working on a political campaign is yet another way of showing that you care about the world around you. If you’ve ever been involved campaigning for a candidate, protesting, or registering voters, it’s just one more way you’re showing a prospective employer that you’re a go-getter.
Being well-travelled usually means you’re globally capable, and that’s more and more important in the workplace these days. Beyond that, travelling makes you appear more independent, cultured, and involved. Bonus points if you speak another language, too—an employer never knows when that could come in handy.
Your other hobbies
You may have noticed a theme here: if you care about it, put it on your resume. Employers want to see that you have passion, both at study and outside of school. The emphasis is more on involvement than quantity. This goes for your hobbies and outside interests, too, especially if you’ve been doing them for a while. If you run marathons, or really love to cook, or build tables for fun, you’re not only showing off your skills but demonstrating your ability to commit.
If you genuinely care about it, don’t be afraid to talk about it, because—who knows?—maybe your interviewer likes to build tables too, and you’ll be hired on the spot. It’s the little things, so if you’re wondering whether or not you should include something you really enjoy, go ahead and write it down.