If there’s one thing I have learned in the past few months of job hunting it's that extra curricular activities really do go a long way.
Of course interviewers look at your course, your internship, your personality, your achievements, and all that jazz. But in interviews, one thing I find myself dwelling on and being asked about is my organization experience in Ateneo.
There's a lot of truth to the advice that besides having honors or various achievements, it’s important to immerse yourself in experiences that corporations and companies want - and that’s what organizations can provide you with.
For example, I was a member of the Ateneo Junior Marketing Association, Company of Ateneo Dancers, Consultants for Organization Development and Empowerment, AIESEC Ateneo and Ateneo Psyche. In my time, I also helped organize different events like the Orientation Seminar for all the freshmen, the Blue Roast for all the seniors, the A-fair, and the list goes on. More than anything, companies always ask me about these experiences and they personally have helped me get the job that I want.
How is this relevant to interviewers?
Orgs show them what skills you have.
In the job hunt, you have your idea of the job you want, but there are so many graduates every year and so many people to compete against. Organizations make you stand out. They make you marketable. You’re not just some person who finished a thesis or aced your classes. You’re the person who handled an event which earned a certain amount of money, or gained a certain number of applicants. You’re the person who contacted different corporations and got them to give money to their event. You’re the person with actual experience and have quantifiable achievements that isn’t confined into the classroom setting.
Orgs show them you can handle curve balls.
You may be asked about challenges and how to deal with them. Here, they aren't really looking for answers like having to study for a math test, or the hours of practice you spend for an oral exams. They're looking for actual situations that reflect challenges you could encounter in work life.
No doubt, in participating with organizations you will be thrown real life curveballs. You don’t just get hypothetical ones or academic bound ones, you get curveballs that any one in a corporation can go through. An event can’t push through because there was a storm, but you have sponsors and you’ve already set up your venue. An outsider threatened to enter your event, and you need to make sure he is caught. You need to explore different ways of promotion, but you can’t post because Facebook has banned you from posting too much or you need to promote but you don’t have enough money to pay celebrities. When thrown real life curveballs you are forced not only to think outside of your comfort zone, but to do it in the quickest, most efficient, and effective way.
For sure, stories like the ones above will garner you more plus points than stories about having to answer three more test questions in 15 minutes.
Orgs give you an instant network.
Far gone are the days when you meet your best friends and potentially your next client, boss, or even business partner in the classroom alone.
Organizations require a lot of time from you and in that time, you get to bond, meet, impress, and be impressed by some of the most talented people you can ever meet. People who are obsessed with order, people who aren’t orderly but extremely brilliant at financials, people with crazy ideas, people who execute plans at top level. I can’t even begin to tell you how many of the people I have met in the organizations have helped me in the job hunt, not only through referrals and recommendations, but also in the journey of hesitation, struggles, and acceptance. The people in organizations are amazing. It is true that organizations are a huge melting pot of crazy, fun, talented, ‘super’ individuals.
Orgs give you the space to explore
Last but not the least, in organizations you’re able to swing a different way and learn something that can set you apart from your course. Have you ever experienced being boxed in a certain way because of what you studied in college? On a personal level, I’ve experienced this. In most of the jobs I applied for I kept getting moved to Human Resources, but some companies saw my experiences and thought that I could be a management trainee or for marketing or for sales. It was my organization work and experiences that made all the difference.
It's never too early to start thinking and working for what you want for your life and your career. And even if you don't really know what the plan is yet, being in an organization will help you spend your time productively. Who knows, it might be at your next organization that you find your life's purpose and, more practically, job hunt success.