Trust me, I’m well aware how cliché that sounds. I rolled my eyes at it too. And given that it’s new student orientation month, it’s a phrase being thrown all over the place at Drexel right now. But, as someone who has gotten involved in several activities, it’s truly worth it.
Now, I want to share a little secret. While a university/college/high school/local equivalent is going to push you to get involved there, if nothing interested you, look online or around your community. I was a Boy Scout before I was a member of any school clubs (although I dropped Boy Scouts in high school). I was on communities online long before I was in the Journalism club in high school. And I’ve been a part of Zelda Reorchestrated longer than I have any school club. And trust me, Zelda Reorchestrated makes for a much better conversation starter than some of the clubs I’ve been in (but not all). Schools will try to tell you that school clubs look good on college applications and resumes. They do, but they’re not the only ones that matter. While I never actually was one, “Eagle Scout” looks a hell of a lot more impressive than “Baseball Team Manager”. I’ve seen Eagle Scout on a resume once. I can’t remember how many times I’ve seen Baseball/Softball/Basketball/etc Team Manager. While I can’t speak for everyone out there, an abstract club and/or volunteer position looks a hell of a lot better to me than one of the usual suspects. Why?
Surprise. Surprise makes you do a double take. And when someone is skim reading your resume, you want them to do a double take (but for a good reason). Surprise also has a tendency to stick. I’ve seen things on resumes that I’ve taken the time to actually look up. And you know what? It’s the things that surprised me that I bring up. The rest of the resume I only look back at if I need to. Now, I haven’t been in charge of hiring a whole lot of people nor played a part in the role too often, so I don’t speak for ever recruiter.
But please, for the love of humanity, don’t get involved just to try to impress recruiters. Do it because you want to. I turned down an invitation to an honor society in middle school (the National Honor Society to be specific). Why? Too standard for me. I wanted something I’d be able to talk about. And I mean really talk about. Personally, when I’m going through a resume, I look at grades, but not in detail. Look at Google, they flat-out said GPA doesn’t matter. And I agree. So get involved in something that looks good because it’s different. Don’t get involved in every single thing – let alone anything – just for the sake of being able to say “yeah, I’m involved in something.” Join something because you want to. Better yet, start something because you want to. Genuinely stand out (but again, for the right reasons please). Don’t follow, lead. As Steve Jobs put it, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”
So seriously, get involved. If you can, lead something that will surprise. If you can’t, again, shoot for surprise. I’ve been in several interviews where I’ve been asked “So, I have to ask, what is Zelda Reorchestrated?” Trust me, open interviews are much more fun that purely scripted.