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Getting involved serves numerous purposes: making friends, networking among your campus faculty, increasing chances at running for certain positions on campus, to work on your participation and leadership skills, but also for resume building. Like it or hate it, a filled-out resume will greatly increase your chances of acceptance into jobs and graduate schools. Of course, what you want to have on your resume might vary regarding which one of those two options you are aiming for. However, there are certain things that will make you appear well-rounded as you compete for these opportunities.

The Basics

First of all, whether it is a job interviewer or a school admission council, they would like to see some involvement, at the least. If there are any inhibitors to this (maybe you were taking a lot of credits and double majoring, maybe the positions on campus are ableist, or maybe you had to juggle home and family life instead of being able to commit to these activities) most applications and interviews will allow you to present these instances. However, if you do have the time and capability of being involved, those who are about to invest in you want to see that you in fact did those things. It is an indicator to them that you used your time and resources available to you on campus well during your three, four, five- whatever- years at undergrad. Most decision councils like to know that the people they will be accepting into the team or school are resourceful, aware and involved, as this indicates that you will be sociable, involved, active (not passive) and resourceful at the place they accept you at. While you might have good reasons not to get involved on campus, it may come off to these decision councils as you being disinterested, passive, not aware of your surroundings, not curious, or not excited about what you do and your circumstances. 

The Steps

So, what do we do with this information? We get involved! Even if it’s your last year or semester. Say you are not a fan of most activities on campus. Try your best to find something you care about. There are philanthropic organizations (does not necessarily mean Greek Life) academic organizations, service ones, anything! Use Mason360 or your undergrad’s student organization website to see what they have to offer. Worst case, you make your own! In fact, this looks really good on a resume: it shows that you are a go-getter, an innovator, and someone who does not let circumstances get in their way of what they want. So, even if there is nothing that catches your interest, that can still work to your advantage!

How To Do It In A Semester Or Two

So, now we know what to do, we just need to use the time we have left to be strategic about how to do it. Joining and being members of a few organizations, even if you are super active, is not enough. Decision councils and professional settings will love to see that you have held a position or two, and if you work your way up in a position, that is even better. On that note, try to stay with an organization or their board for as long as you can, and staying on more than one of their terms really shows people reading your resume that you are committed. While filling out a resume, it is great to have a lot of organizations listed; however, make sure that you are not just jumping from one to another: decision councils will see that as insincere. Even if you are with one or two organizations for a long time, that will probably look better on your end. 

How To Get On A Board

Okay, so I might have skipped over this part, but here it is! Cast a wide net! I know we discussed how nothing might interest you, but do some deep digging using the resources available to you, and try to identify a good amount of organizations! Student-run organizations have more lax “requirements” to fill in open seats: often, they will advertise open positions open to the student body on their social media! As you are making a list of organizations you would like to be involved with, make sure to follow them on socials! Greek life, and more extensive organizations, like Student Governments, academic and professional fraternities, among others, tend to fill board positions with pre-existing board members or members of the organization. Thus, to secure a board position with a short timeline, try your luck with Registered Student Organizations!

Once You Have That Position

This has been discussed before, but it is worth noting again. Make sure you show that you are committed to your position! If you have time, return for several terms. Try your best to work your way up and climb a position or two within the board, or show that you went from member to board member! If you are a board member, regardless of whether you have time ahead of you or not, work on memorable projects for the organization! Be innovative, accomplish things worth noting in your resume. Again, decision councils love to see someone taking advantage of their position. Whether this is taking advantage of a member position and accomplishing something or moving your way up, or making sure your time as leader is an active one, not a passive one. Because jobs and schools are taking a chance on you, they like to see that you are capable of actions they prefer at their spaces; and what better way to assure them of these actions than reflecting it on your resume from your past experiences?

You got this, collegiettes!

Annie Oaks

George Mason University '22

A legal studies major with a knack for writing and fashion.
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