Experiences of extracurriculars matter more than the extracurricular

At Get on Board Day, booths representing hundreds of organizations and clubs spread themselves out across campus. They range from the waterskiing team to the forensics team, and freshmen are invited to peruse the different options and stop by the booths that truly interest them, which is exactly what they should do. However, it’s easy to get pulled into signing up for a different, more superficial reason. While we tell our friends that we are, in fact, deeply passionate about an issue, we may only seek to beef up our resumes and LinkedIn profiles. The exact opposite result is achieved: choosing organizations purely for their glossy, resume-friendly exteriors will only hurt students in the end.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to participate in a mock trial competition. The mock trial team, which involves a large amount of public speaking and 
improvisation, is an organization that I have been involved in since freshman year. While I was previously terrified to speak in front of an audience that exceeded 10 people, the organization has allowed me to cross personal boundaries of fear and improve myself. Although I still feel slightly faint in front of a microphone, I have grown tremendously in this regard and will continue to improve as long as I am a part of the mock trial team.

It seems counterproductive to join an organization that conflicts with my own personality and even career goals, as I do not plan to attend law school. But as a freshman, the mock trial was an escape that allowed me to combat my issues with public relations and speaking, and I believe that other freshmen would benefit in 
this way.

If you lack confidence, join an organization that will instill that confidence within you. If your written communication skills are not at an impressive level, join an organization that pressures you to find the right word. Because at this moment in your education, you are allowed to temporarily fail before you get better.

This idea coincides with the anxiety that surrounds choosing a major. Even if majors change every week, an organization has the power to consistently have a positive impact on your education, to stay with you while a passion for mechanical engineering morphs into an affection for Victorian poetry.

Of course, the mock trial team isn’t for everyone. But the University’s numerous other organizations have the ability to impact every student. Although there are only five weeks left in this school year, it’s never too late to think about the lasting impact your current involvement has over your education. It’s an important thing to consider, and extracurricular activities count for more than they get credit for. They have the power to transform a resume to a description of who students are as people, their experiences and their 
greatest aspirations.

In two years when I graduate, I will be done with mock trial. That will, of course, be a sad day. But after graduation, I plan to carry the skills it has given me to my job and future career. At a future job, an employer will probably be impassive as to what random club of which you were the vice president, yet they will be impressed when you tell them the countless experiences that club gave you, which ultimately prepared you for the work force.

Mary Catherine Connors is a sophomore majoring in economics and mathematics. Her column 
runs weekly.

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