There is an ancient riddle which has confused students since the beginning of time: How do I get experience when all experiences require experience? Figuring out how to break into the job market can feel like trying to jump on an already moving Ferris wheel. Confusing, intimidating, and not how you want to spend your weekends. But there is a way to round out your resume, gain leadership experience, and develop a professional network without snagging that elusive first job in your preferred field.
Campus involvement is a great alternative. Hopefully, you made it to Involvement Fest and have a few clubs you’re thinking about joining. If not, don’t worry! The full list of UMBC student organizations can be found here. It might seem intimidating at first, but taking a few minutes to look through the list is a great idea. There are professional societies, department groups, and recreational clubs. Find a couple that seem like fun, figure out what time they meet, and you’re good to go!
As a member of a club, you have the chance to do three things that help boost your chances of getting a job.
Leadership Opportunities. Clubs are a great way to take on responsibility in a relatively low-risk environment. Having a leadership position in a club gives you experience managing other people and their schedules, planning events, budgeting, and recruiting new members. These are great skills to highlight in a resume and provide great stories to talk about in interviews.
Networking. In a club, whether its related to your studies or not, you’re going to make friends with people who will be able to help your career down the road. Building connections in and out of your major is always a great idea, and clubs are great ways to get out, meet people, and create lasting friendships. It’s a stress-free way of beginning to cultivate a professional network.
The Human Element. Most employers aren’t looking for an emotionless robot to sit behind a desk and bang out reports day after day. And if they are, you probably don’t want to work for them anyways. Clubs and extracurriculars show your potential employer that you’re more than just a student. You have a breadth of knowledge and ideas that support and enhance your professional development. Having dedicated interests outside your field of study show that you commit to the things that you love, and you’ll commit to your new job too.
So there you have it. Eat some food, make some friends, and help your career along the way. Before you run off to your free hour meetings, a quick reminder: The Career Fair is less than two weeks away! Start preparing now by reviewing your resume and researching companies. Our blog on Career Fair Success will be out next week. Until then, I’m your friendly neighborhood career peer, hoping to see you all soon on the second floor of Math and Psych.