Extracurricular Activities and Careers

When thinking about possible careers, it’s natural that you’d first turn to your academic interests.  After all, we tend to link jobs with education.  However, the classroom is not the only place that can lead to career ideas and ambitions.  If you’re having trouble zeroing in on your options, we recommend looking to your extracurricular activities as well.

To begin with, extracurricular participation can confirm and/or enhance your academic interests.  For example, perhaps your enjoyment of French class convinces you to join the (imaginatively named) French Club.  As a result, you have additional opportunities to practice your French and interact with French culture – be it through eating French delicacies at a meeting, watching French films together, etc.  This can all serve to strengthen your language skills and cement your passion for all things related to France.  In turn, it might spark a desire to become a French teacher, a translator or even to open your own crêperie (to name a few options).

School clubs also allow you to participate in new activities which can ignite new interests/obsessions.  Maybe on a whim, you decide to sign up for the debate team.  And you awaken a latent love for current events and argument.  Well, now you can take this personal discovery and figure out what types of jobs might rely on or benefit from these talents.

Beyond helping you consider potential careers and professional goals, extracurricular activities can also make you a more attractive candidate (when it comes time to actually apply for jobs and internships).  Indeed, through club participation, you can acquire and hone a number of soft skills that are valuable to many employers.  For starters, since many activities take place within a group setting, you automatically get experience flexing your teamwork muscles.  Additionally, extracurriculars also call for strong time management skills.  You learn to balance your involvement with homework and family obligations.  And, of course, you must display at least a modicum of personal responsibility as an athlete, club member, etc.

Moreover, you can spin the work you do within these organizations into concrete examples of your experience.  Many of these clubs have officers who take charge in running things; if you become vice president or president, you have strong evidence of your leadership capability.  Or, say you help to spearhead the planning committee for the sophomore semi-formal.  Well, now you have some experience with event organizing!  And if you join the staff of the school newspaper, you’ll have writing clips you can show to potential employers.

Extracurricular participation may also help you expand your network.  Certainly, you are likely to make new friends through the clubs you join.  Further, your activities can also put you in touch with possible mentors and/or established professionals.  Here’s yet another example for you – let’s say, through your school’s community service club, you begin tutoring kids at a nearby shelter.  That experience is thoroughly rewarding and drives you to become interested in social work, homeless advocacy, urban planning, etc.  Fortunately, you now have direct contact with the shelter employees.  You can ask them how they got started, what their educational backgrounds are and what steps they might recommend you taking.  Even better, you can see if they possibly have any part-time, entry-level openings.  And, if you’re really lucky, you may be able to get a recommendation or reference from them.

If you’re struggling to come up with potential career options, don’t hesitate to turn to your extracurricular interests.  After school clubs and activities aren’t merely for fun and socializing.  They allow you to further explore your passions, gaining worthwhile experience in the process.  And, as a result, they can certainly lead you to viable career options!

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