As nearly 2 million freshman begin arriving on campuses in the U.S. alone over the next two weeks, most will focus on parties and academics. Only a few will lay the groundwork for their future careers by becoming involved in extra-curricular activities.
Since hands-on experience and networks are essential for future job searches, don’t postpone getting involved in extra-curricular activities. Such experiences also enhance prospects for landing summer internships. My three rules for a successful college career:
Rule #1: Take advantage of what you can learn from the classroom; focus on GPA. It’s essential to find the right balance between fun, studies and outside activities. I threw myself into all three during my freshman year and finished the first semester with a less-than-stellar GPA, which took the next couple of semesters to turnaround. A solid GPA is more important today than ever since competition for graduate schools is so fearce. A young friend recently found herself denied from seven graduate programs despite her once-thought-to-be-impressive 3.4 GPA.
Rule #2: Get involved. Resumes are built in college, so extra-curricular activities are essential and will catch the eye of future prospective employers. As I have mentioned in prior posts, PRSSAis one of the best organizations to join. Currently, some estimates indicate fewer than 10% of PR students become involved PRSSA. For anyone pursuing a PR career, this is a no-brainer. Join PRSSA. Then, find one other on-campus volunteer organization. Resist getting recruited for activities that don’t appeal to your personal and long-term career interests. The campus newspaper or PR and marketing roles with other student organizations are excellent activities.
Rule #3: Have responsible fun. Key word here is “responsible.” And be sure to extend the responsible fun to your use of social media. Don’t post anything that may cause embarrassment later to you or others, and never assume that anything you post is a private exchange between you and your friends.
My alma mater’s tag-line suggests: “More. From Day One.” That’s good advice for becoming fully engaged in your college experience.