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Living Your Life Beyond A Resume

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Illinois State chapter.

We go all four years of high school working, studying, volunteering, joining this club, that club, winning awards and scoring the final point in the big game. We compile it nicely into one neat application with a compressed version of a story that somehow explains who we are and who we want to become. Finally, a bunch of people who only know us from that singular application decide if their institution will be a part of our future or not. I always wonder what part of my application got me into college. My GPA? My essay? My work experience?

Flash forward a year of senior activities and one bittersweet summer later, and you’re finally here. Maybe it’s your dream school, maybe it’s the school that’ll make your dreams come true, or maybe it’s a school you’ll grow to love, but either way, you’re here. Now, you just have to get decent grades, make a few friends, and find an internship or job in a few years. Easy right? It has to be better than high school…right?

Well…about that. Those same activities and studying and getting outside your comfort zone to look like a super awesome well-rounded person still happen in college, except now it’s for a new application: a resume. 

Those same things that truly don’t define you as a person linger with you to be stamped on a piece of paper becoming the only thing that ends up defining you to a future employer. There is so much more freedom in building a resume than there is in a college application. For one, your activities are hopefully centered around a career you will love, not just to fake being a person that you are not. Still, it can feel like everything you’re doing, whether you enjoy it to some degree or not, is all for a piece of paper and not for you. Especially in today’s world where it seems we always have to present some better version of ourselves to others, a good resume really just feels like a lie. 

To combat this feeling, make sure you have at least one club or hobby that is just because you enjoy it. Don’t treat it like a deadline, a checklist or a bullet point. It should be something you love that brings you joy. To me, writing for Her Campus is one of these hobbies. I love writing, and I love the idea that my words may mean something to someone, somewhere, so that is why I write. Sure, I can spin everything I learned from HC onto a bullet point-packed list, but that’s not why I do it, so it still feels fun to me. 

Join a club that will help you in your future career, but be a part of it—not just a member. Especially in large clubs and sororities or business fraternities, it can feel like you’re just a number. A little walking, talking robot trying to pretend this will actually help you. The truth is, you can be in as many activities as you want that may appear to help you long-term, but if you aren’t enjoying yourself and having fun while doing it, it may not be helping the way you want it to. That is why it is so important to get involved because even in times of hard work or stress, you belong to something bigger than yourself, and will grow into someone you want to become in the future, which I’m sure is more ambitious than a robot. Remember why you joined the organization in the first place. If the reason is to write it down on a piece of paper saying you were there, that will never be motivating enough.

College can feel like one big board game where you somehow got your turn skipped 10 times and now everyone else is 10 steps ahead of you. I would argue that even the people who really are 10 steps ahead of you have people in their heads who they believe to be 20 steps ahead of them. I have some good news, though. Life will have competition, but competition doesn’t have to be life, and you sure do not have to live life in hopes of winning. Live for yourself, beyond your resume. Your resume should be a byproduct of who you are and how you’ve grown in college. A piece of paper can only define you so much—please try to not let it dictate your life.

Emma Julian

Illinois State '25

Hi! My name is Emma and I am a Sophomore at Illinois State! I am majoring in Marketing, but have a huge love for writing and sharing experiences with others. I enjoy writing about mental health, fashion, lifestyle, and wellness. I love writing for Her Campus since, to me, life is all about learning and sharing. Feel free to follow my Instagram: emmarosee13 :)