What have you done?
In addition to your coursework and professional activities, your college experience is likely comprised of involvement in co-curriculars. Clubs, athletics, study abroad, leadership roles, and community service are all great examples that are not only fun and rewarding, but potentially impressive to future employers or graduate schools.
Start by listing your co-curricular activities, including time frame and level of participation. Are you in a leadership role in an organization? An active member? Captain of your team? Going into your second year as a resident assistant? Next, think about skills that are in demand and ways in which you can demonstrate those skills with examples from your involvement.
We’ve discussed the S.T.A.R. method for crafting career stories, so let’s focus on how to better market co-curriculars, specifically in a resume. We encourage students to bulk up their resume’s bullet points to best highlight accomplishments, as opposed to tasks. Saying “led meetings,” “helped freshmen transition to college,” or “ran drills and practices” may show what you’ve done, but it doesn’t say anything about your ability to do them effectively. Follow these steps to better highlight your strengths:
- STEP 1 – Skill: What did you get out of performing this duty?
- STEP 2 – Structure: Put this result into a statement. I learned……
- STEP 3 – Verb: Replace “I learned” by starting the new statement with an action verb.
- STEP 4 – Clarify: Go back to original duty and ask who, what, where, when, why, how
As an example, if your original bullet point says “helped students transition to college,” a revised (and bulked up) one might become:
- Step 1: Leadership skills
- Step 2: I learned leadership skills while helping students transition to college
- Step 3: Strengthened leadership skills while helping students transition to college
- Step 4: Strengthened leadership skills by facilitating small group sessions and organizing activities to familiarize six incoming freshmen to college life.
The second option is a much more substantive example of your experiences and can be tailored to highlight many different strengths. Following the steps can also help you in planning out career stories or drafting cover letters and essays that incorporate your involvement. Bottom line, co-curriculars are a big part of the college experience. Be sure you are marketing them effectively!
~ Gwen Miller, associate director, career development