December 2nd, 2012

Three Ways to Make Yourself More Visible in a Competitive Job Market

Your undergraduate education is more about just receiving a diploma at the end of a certain period of time. Although that important piece of paper does represent an impressive amount of hard work, it’s now more important than ever to make yourself stand out from your classmates. In many cases, that means going above and beyond just attending class and participating in lectures and lab sessions. Those things are important, but it’s also worthwhile to spend your time doing things that’ll look good on your resume, especially if you plan to work in a career that’s already filled with talented people. That’s not to say that you don’t have your own gifts, but other people need to be able to notice your value. Read on for three things that you can do to prove your worth.

Student Clubs and Organizations

No matter how large or small your college is, chances are, you’ll find several ways to do things that match your current interests, or even give you the chance to find something new that strikes your fancy. One of the best things about student-run organizations is that they often don’t require new members to pay dues until they’ve decided whether they truly want to stick with the club. Check to see if your organization hosts a student organization night. If so, this is a chance for you to meet representatives from several different types of clubs, and get a feel for their focus.

Surprisingly, the type of club that you join doesn’t matter as much as you might think. Although it would make sense to seek out a law-oriented organization if you’re an aspiring lawyer, for example, you’ll learn valuable skills in any type of group setting, whether it’s a club that meets once a week, or an organization that sees you living in a fraternity or sorority house. An article in USA Today mentioned that 85% of the executives at Fortune 500 companies participated in Greek organizations to some degree, and that Greek members were more likely to finish college, too. If anything, your participation certainly shows commitment, and that can speak volumes on a resume.

Internships: A Way to get your Feet Wet

Taking tests and writing papers certainly has a place in student life at any university, but often, the real test comes when you actually start to use your newly learned skills in a real-life setting. Some institutions, such as New York’s Clarkson University require students to have some sort of professional experience outside of the classroom before they graduate. Also, the U.S. News and World Report recently published data showing that over 36% of students across 330 schools had participated in an internship during some part of their undergraduate education.

Classes that Challenge You

While it’s tempting to flip through a course catalog in search of those “easy A” type-classes, urge yourself to aim for subjects that’ll give you something you can take away from the classroom once the semester’s over. James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia has a music industry minor program that’s often of interest to people who study psychology, marketing and law, and want to tie their interest for the entertainment industry in with those other fields.

Although students do have some lecture sessions, they’re also encouraged to do things that make them step out of their comfort zone. Past participants have learned how to mix rough recordings in a sound studio, promote emerging bands and even formulate a business plan, all by going out and actually doing those things, instead of just reading about them in a textbook.

Whether you’re an aspiring businessperson searching for the best online MBA programs, or just getting ready to attend your commencement ceremony and start looking for work, you’ve got to adapt the right mindset. Having an attitude that you’ll get by and only do the bare minimum amount of work that’s required for your education will only make things harder. Instead of caving into the temptation to slack off, think of every extracurricular activity that you participate in as being a building block for your future. This sort of proactive approach will help you go far in college, the workforce or any other arena where you’d like to excel.

Amie Gottschalk is an avid blogger who writes often for several educational sites. You can follow her on Twitter @amiegottschalk.

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