1. Stick With One or Two Organizations
Join several clubs and teams that interest you when you first arrive on campus. Go to a few meetings, learn more about the group and mingle with members--this is how you will narrow down your search. Once you've decided which clubs to pursue, it is important to drop the others. Trying to keep up a decent GPA, intramural sports and four demanding organizations is too much for any college student. The benefits of having one or two key clubs that you are participating in means that you can devote more energy to their causes. By becoming a very involved member, you will gain opportunities for higher positions. Being VP of your school's Pharmacy Club and running various projects and fundraisers will look a lot better on your resumé than merely being a member of six random groups.
2. Branch Out when Building Relationships
Parents, self-help books and even college officials have all famously said, "It isn't what you know, it's who you know." The girl sitting beside you in Intro to Communications may very well be the one scrutinizing your resumé for your dream job in a few years time. It's a smart idea to get your name out to as many peers as possible and making friends with professors should also be a priority (since they will be the ones to write your letters of recommendation when you apply for that grant, internship or über competitive spot in med school). But what many college students overlook is the meaningful relationships that can be built with people like advisors and community leaders. You can draw upon a good academic advisor's help for years down the road as you navigate through higher education. Community leaders that you encounter at school functions, through volunteer work or club meetings hold influence in their field. College is the place where anyone could become a potential asset, so take advantage of your time here.
3. Offer Your Services On and Off-Campus
Each person has a set of unique attributes and skills that can be used to boost their resumé. After all, college towns are just like any other town–they have city halls, soup kitchens, radio stations and animals shelters that would all welcome help. Using the information you learn with your major to tackle issues in the community or start projects looks and feels fantastic. It shows that you are an independent thinker capable of creative problem-solving and may even lead to something bigger that branches out beyond your community. Whether it be just volunteering a few days down the street or organizing a huge city-wide event, be proactive and get yourself out there!
4. Get a Job or Start Tutoring
Part-time jobs can be very stressful to have in college--the strict commitment with your full class schedule leaves almost zero time for any fun at all. But even though jobs seem like a surefire way to ruin the "best four years of your life," the right one could skyrocket you toward your career. By locating jobs that relate to your major (and therefore your end goal after college), you gain much-needed experience and have the opportunity to (again) make connections. However, if a job seems a bit too much at the moment or if you can't find anything that suits your needs, consider becoming a tutor. Not only will you score yourself some cash for the weekends, but it also reinforces the fact that you are practically an expert in your field.
5. Avoid Comparing Yourself to Others
The most important tip for building a college resumé is to escape the trap of comparison. Too many students become discouraged after they hear of their peers' achievements--they stop putting in effort into their resumé or neglect to send it off altogether. Universities attract outstanding individuals and many of your classmates will have won fabulous awards or already made some great contribution to their field of study. Do not let this sway you from applying for the same internships and grad schools as they are. In many cases, employers are looking for specific types of people to fill their slots and not just the boy who's published his work in three scientific journals. It is dangerous to pay attention to the credentials of others. Let your peers' success motivate you, not drag you down.
Building a solid resumé is a crucial part of transitioning into adulthood. It will be a frustrating and nerve-racking process because trying to make a document represent who you are and all of what you are capable of is impossible. But, by including the right components and offering a wide range of experiences, you will be a stellar candidate for anything you apply for--good luck!
Lead Image Credit: Helen Greene via Flickr Creative Commons