Extracurricular activities are a key element in college applications. However, the importance of being involved in extracurricular activities doesn’t end there – showing passionate involvement in activities outside the classroom is an excellent way to boost your CV in readiness for the professional working world.
The right extracurricular activities will help you widen your network, develop new skills, and pursue interests that are beyond academia. They make your college experience more enjoyable and help you strike a healthy balance between studying and your social life. Your extra-curricular activities might also come in handy in snagging your dream job after college.
Whether you’re a freshman or in your final year of college abroad, here is a list of some of the best extracurricular activities to help you build your profile:
Volunteering While in College Abroad
Volunteering is an extracurricular activity you simply can’t go wrong with. It helps you build a network, and enhance your skills, while also giving back to the community. It can give you an opportunity to explore a certain area, giving you real-life experience in hard-to-enter sectors such as conservation.
You can volunteer in all types of organizations and roles, depending on your interests, skills, and previous experience. The best places to find a volunteer position include charities or non-profit organizations, hospitals, local community centers, and schools.
You can help with activities such as fundraising, event planning, teaching children, and so on. Depending on the amount of time you have to spare, you can volunteer for a few hours a week, a couple of days a month, or an entire summer break.
Some volunteer positions in certain organizations require experience, training, or knowledge. Conduct thorough research on the organization and its volunteer needs and requirements before sending in your application.
Part-time Work While in College Abroad
Working while in university abroad is another great way to build skills and networks. Unlike volunteering, working part-time while studying also allows you to earn money. You can use the money to cover some of your tuition fees and living costs, and even start paying down student loans.
As an extracurricular activity, a part-time job can give you the experience that recruiters are looking for. This puts you ahead of other students who don’t have real-life experience and skills in that area. Even if your part-time job is in an unrelated industry, it can help you build transferable skills that all employers look for such as planning, responsibility, time-management, teamwork, and people skills.
However, make sure that your academic work doesn’t suffer because of your part-time job. For this reason, it’s recommended that you don’t work for more than 20 hours a week while studying.
Many countries have restrictions on how many hours international students can work while studying. Look up if your country of study has such restrictions and make sure to adhere to them – failure to do so can lead to losing your student status.
When applying for jobs after college, don’t downplay your part-time work experience. Highlight your key responsibilities and the skills you acquired.
Get an Internship While in College
Internships can also serve as extracurricular activities while in college. An internship is a great way to break into the industry you’re interested in. Just like part-time work and volunteering, an internship will help you develop skills in your field and build valuable relationships.
In today’s highly competitive job environment, employers pay attention to resumes that demonstrate relevant work history – regardless of whether it came in the form of volunteering, part-time work, or internships.
Research shows that US graduates who complete more than three internships are more likely to secure full-time employment. Completing internships is also linked to higher salaries for university graduates.
Think of an internship as training as an apprentice in your industry. If you’re lucky, you may even find paid internships. There’s also been a rise in remote/virtual internships, which gives savvy students the opportunity to work virtually for global organizations.
Many companies give preference to hiring students who’ve interned with them. Therefore, look for internship opportunities in the organizations you’d like to work for in the long term.
Join the Student Newspaper
Being part of your college newspaper is a great extra-curricular activity. Even if you’ve no interest in pursuing a career in journalism, the student newspaper provides you with an opportunity to sharpen your writing skills, meet interesting people from different sectors, and enjoy the perks that come with having a press pass.
Even more importantly, working with a student newspaper gives you a chance to contribute your voice and opinion to different stories and issues. For instance, you can have a column to discuss environmental matters.
Writing for your college newspaper is also a good way to expand your knowledge in certain areas. You will find yourself researching different ideas, concepts, and events and talking to experts in different fields. The knowledge you’ve acquired will help you both in and outside the classroom.
There are many roles that you can take up in the student paper, depending on your skills and interests. Common student newspaper roles include reporter, editor, photographer, publisher, sales/marketing, and cartoonist.
Join the Debate Team
Do you enjoy public speaking? Consider joining the debate team in college. The debate team provides an excellent opportunity for students to engage and improve their perspectives on important issues. You’ll research and learn about important issues in philosophy, politics, and public policy and gain a better appreciation for the diverse perspectives that make up the public sphere.
The debate team will teach you how to research, articulate your perspective, and clarify your thoughts. These skills will prepare you to speak more confidently in class and later in interviews and work meetings.
Join a Sports Team
Joining a sports team is a great idea. Not only will it keep you fit, but being part of a sports team can equip you with important skills you’ll need in your professional life. For instance, team sports show recruiters and employers that you’re a team player. If you had a key role in the team, it can show that you’re highly responsible and reliable and have the necessary leadership skills.
Your sports experience can even be a great conversation starter during interviews. Interviewers can connect with you on such shared interests – increasing your chances of securing the job.
What if you’re not interested in playing professionally? Well, most sports clubs are divided into different ability levels – you could still train with the team more casually. Doing so will help you enhance your fitness levels, network with students outside your course, and have some fun.
Get Involved in Student Governance
Do you have leadership aspirations? One of the best ways to build your leadership skills while in college is through being involved in student governance. Needless to say, such skills make you a highly competitive job applicant, regardless of your field.
There are many elective and non-elective student leadership roles you could take on, depending on your goals. For instance, you can become a member of the student council or an academic representative for your department.
Being part of student governance gives you a say in crucial topics, shaping your and other students’ university experience.
Join Art Clubs and Organizations
If you’re interested in the arts, joining art clubs should be at the top of your list of extracurricular activities. Your college will probably have different kinds of art clubs and organizations that you can join. For instance, many colleges have Drama and Theatre Clubs, Writing Clubs, Improv Clubs, and so on.
Find an art club that is aligned with your talent and skills. It will give you an opportunity to meet with like-minded individuals, build your talent, and express your imagination.