Ways College Students Can Stand Out for Employers

Student on computer sitting against a yellow wall

By Ken Barnes

What gives your college student that competitive edge when applying for jobs? Of course, good grades and experience top the list, but what else can students do to stand out amongst thousands of their colleagues that graduate every year? Below is a list of activities your student can partake in that will enhance their skills and make them stand out among their peers.

1. Community Service

Community service not only helps those in need, it also gives employers a view of students different from their academics and professional development. Service shows compassion, time management, selflessness and extracurricular activities. It can also show leadership and allow students to network. Those who volunteer their time and knowledge develop skills used in the workplace such as communication, problem-solving, organization and teamwork. All are valuable to employers. Find out more at the Community Service Resource Center.

2. Getting Involved in Campus Activities

Campus activities run the gamut from joining clubs and organizations to participating in student government. No matter what activity your student chooses, participation shows the ability to do more than just academics. It can also highlight skills employers are interested in. Teamwork and leadership rank highly among those who participate in campus activities. Also, by taking on different roles, students gain perspectives that can be advantageous during interviews. Learn more about campus activities at the Center for Student Involvement.

3. Studying Abroad

By studying abroad, students integrate global opportunities into their academic experiences. This life-altering experience allows students to discover new passions, develop a broader perspective of the world and gain skills and experiences that can improve employability. A broader perspective allows employers to take advantage of a skillset shared by only a fraction of college students. Only 42 percent of Americans have passports and even less actively use them. Global perspectives are not only useful, they are actively sought by employers – particularly those with international interests. Learn more at Study Abroad.

4. Sorority and Fraternity life

Participating in sorority and fraternity (Greek) life allows students to network beyond normal means. The majority of fortune 500 company executives participated in Greek life (some sources report as high as 85 percent), and college graduation rates are 20 percent higher among those who join sororities and fraternities. Taking on leadership roles and special projects allows students to highlight a number of skills: developing and maintaining budgets, event planning, recruitment, and more. Learn more about sorority and fraternity life.

5. Certificate Series and Workshops

UC Davis offers certificates in diversity and student leadership as well as a number of specialized workshops on topics like leadership, communication, group development, conflict management and diversity. By participating in these series, conferences and workshops, students develop leadership skills and self-awareness while working with others and being civically and socially engaged. These programs pull students from all majors, and levels of experience. They also enhance other experiences such as internships, part-time jobs, and those listed above. Learn more at the Center for Leadership Learning.

6. Professional Organizations

Joining professional organizations yields significant benefits that include finding out about internship and job opportunities before others, joining listservs pertinent to specific industries, learning about and getting discounts for conferences, and staying informed on industries standards and policies. Professional organizations also maximize networking potential and professional contacts. Learn about professional associations from different majors at What Can I do With This Major.

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