8 answers

Do extracurricular activities during college really matter after graduating college? (i.e. in the workforce)

Updated New York, New York

Does being a president of a student organization related to one's major at college matter 10 years after graduating college? Or is it just a sign of overachievement during college? (Apologies if these questions come across as offensive, I am genuinely curious about their answers. Thank you!)
#college #career #workforce

8 answers

Jin’s Answer

Updated Plano, Texas

Hello Clio, you asked a very good question. Let's think about why you want to engage in extracurricular activities? because of your interest? or just for the sake of getting one item checked in the to-do list? I would encourage you choose and join the extracurricular activities that interest you. The benefit of involving in extracurricular activities are: building friendship with people who share the same interest; spend your time meaningfully on something that develop you further in the area you have interest; develop your soft skills working with people, collaboration, communication and even leadership. All of these benefits will bring benefit for your career directly or in-directly. Hope this helps.

Hi Jin, For time management reasons (I have a 4 hr commute per day, and am studying engineering full time), I've always had a difficult time maintaining participation in extracurricular activities on campus. I recognize that they make up an important part of people during their college years, but unfortunately I found myself unable to have these experiences as easily despite my efforts. That is why, for me I am unsure of the value these activities can provide me as they would to my peers, hence I am asking this question. Thank you for your input, I really appreciate it!

Kim’s Answer

Updated San Antonio, Texas

Hi Clio,

I think the others have given some good answers. What I want to add is that it is up to you to show what you actually did in the position. A title alone does not do that. There are many clubs and organizations that pop-up on campus that never really blossom. So, merely being the president doesn't prove anything. You will need to put a short blurb with it on your resume. This might say, "raised $15,000 for student scholarships/homeless/ etc ; Increased active membership by 37%"

However, at ten years, things really begin to fade in significance, so, yes, you will want to continue participating in activities of some sort beyond college. To some employers, it is important to know that you will wear the company t-shirt and help paint houses for the needy, and this does make a difference in hiring decisions!

Hi Kim, Thanks for your thoughtful response! In hindsight, I've always felt that clubs don't really increase one's technical/career skills as effectively or efficiently than actual work experience (i.e. internships), but I understand that they are a great place for college students to develop important soft skills like communication, teamwork, leadership, etc. In that case, I would also understand that these activities help you stand out from employers, but wasn't sure if they would have the same effect 10 years or so on the road later. Thank you, I will keep your comment in mind! :)
Clio, I do still use "old" stuff from time to time, to prove certain skills. I was the Treasurer of a non-profit, and had to do all the start-up paperwork with IRS, state comptroller, etc, collect dues, monthly/annual statement, etc. Also did some GED Math tutoring. Those demonstrate math proficiency better than saying "i am good at math." Having read your other comments, and, having been a commuter, might I suggest you look for COMMUNITY involvement of ANY kind, rather than focusing on school groups? Toastmistress might be a good start, esp. for Networking. Also see if you can join professional (non-school) organizations. They sometimes have student rates. Go to the monthly meetings, etc. I think these two things would do more for you than school orgs.
Kim, thanks for sharing your experiences - they clarified me about relevance of skills during and after college. Yes I participate in some student chapters of professional organizations, I am just not very active in them for the above reason. As a follow-up, does your current role prove those "certain skills" more so, equally, or less than as well as your "old" stuff?
Good question! I am twice- retired (2018!). My last job lacked any mental stimulation. However, I had a "side-hustle" working for attorneys. (2013-2018). I had to handle all billing, collections, etc., and I can make it sound pretty intense. Sometimes I put it on resumes. Sometimes I felt it could be harmful because we were representing people killed by police. Not everyone supports Civil Rights litigation. Don't run yourself down trying to check off every box on the checklist. Learn everything you can. Cultivate relationships. Find a mentor. Keep your commitments. Stay current in your field. Take the time to enjoy your youth! By ten years you will have a solid resume!

Kendra’s Answer

Updated Fairfax, Virginia

Hi Clio!

No need to apologize, this is a good question. Two things come to mind for me when you ask this question. The first is, will LACK of extracurricular activity stop you from getting a particular job 10 years down the road? I don't think it will. The second is, could extracurricular activity HELP you in getting a particular job 10 years down the road? I think it can - not necessarily "will", but can. If you are President of a student organization, that represents two things - you are well rounded, take on more than you have to, and you are leader. These are qualities any employer would appreciate...and many folks that exhibit these characteristics in college, keep it up throughout their professional lives. (I can attest to that!) Also, you learn valuable skills and lessons through extracurricular activities that can carry you further than you think! Great question!

Community participation in college sets the stage for a lifetime of leaning in reaching out and building connections that bridge barriers. Benefits of joining college clubs and organizations that really matter after graduating college (i.e. in the workforce): 1. A chance to build your skillset 2. Opportunity to demonstrate your time management. 3. Helps you become more collaborative 4. It can lead to great friendships and new networking opportunities 5. Build your self-confidence 6. Provide you with a well-rounded college experience 7. Increase your marketability The skills you develop and the experience you acquire add up to an enticing combination for hiring managers once you begin your job search.
Kendra - I felt before that my involvement in extracurricular activities at college do not really concern my professional endeavors, but thank you, you have certainly opened my horizons. :) Thank you for connecting the dots for me! Bernice - Would doing solely internships compromise that set of benefits you mentioned above Bernice?

José’s Answer

Updated Dublin, County Dublin

Hi Clio!

To be honest, I do not think it should be something you feel forced to do. I believe that the project should come as something you believe in, that you feel motivated to work with.

For instance, I went to Law school and I always have been interested in international relations. There, on my second college year I joined an European Law School Association, were I came across people all over Europe and contact with a diversity of topics that really interested me. Also, I was part of Students Association, as member of the Marketing department. I met a lot of cool people who shared my interests and we were able to work together to school community.

At the end, when I finished my Bachelors, I really felt that I've developed a lot of soft skills (communication - namely, public speaking, group dynamic and interrelationship skills) that are nowadays very important to my professional and personal life. Also, I can guarantee you that participating on this extracurricular activities was important for my access to a Masters' degree in International and European Law. Even though I was an average student, I was among the top 10 students which access was granted to the LLM, as the University in question considered that 50% of the admission grade should value the student's CV.

So, wrapping up, it should be something you really want to do. I can guarantee you it will develop your soft skills in a way that classroom environment cannot, you will start creating your own network and it will, obviously, value your CV when looking for your first jobs. Also, even though I do not own the enough distance to state it, I believe it will always add value to yourself as a professional, in 10 years now. Just keep in mind what those experiences thought you and that you can use on your day-to-day life.

Above all, have fun!

Hope this helps :)


Hi Jose, thank you too for sharing your experiences! I really appreciate your thoughtfulness and advice. In my own experience, I have gained relatively more professional skills through my work experience, so I recognized my dis-balance of activities early on. I would also like to have fun through such activities, but now I see that I need to work on my time management skills seriously. Thank you again for your input Jose!

Eugenie’s Answer

Updated New York, New York

Hi Clio!

In my experience both interviewing for jobs after college and now being on the other side and interviewing people for jobs at my company, I have found that extracurriculars in college really matter for getting your first job out of college, and then not at all after that. I think it's important to show you didn't just study and party during college, but also used that time to develop and grow as a person and explore some other interests -- whether that be artistic or pre-professional. I would suggest getting involved in just one or two extracurriculars so you have time to take advantage of it fully rather than spread yourself too thin. Do one or two things really well and that will help you stand out in the crowd!

Hi Eugenie, thank you for your advice! I will try to look for activities I can participate in sustainably. The reason I asked this question was because I am in a program that provides me a full-time job after graduating college, so my resume/CV looks slightly different from my peers with heavy experience in my field of interest. Thank you again!

Eric’s Answer

Updated Atlanta, Georgia

They might be another way to help you connect with recruiters / interviewers and may be a way to more easily connect with colleagues (e.g. weekly pickup basketball).

Hi Eric, I have not considered that before as a factor. Thank you for your input!

Tess’s Answer

Updated Berkeley, California

Hi Cilo,

Extra-curricular activities during college definitely matter - but maybe not for the reasons that you might think.

In college, I was in an a cappella group, participated in a puppet group designed to educate kids about disabilities, and did musical theater. I've found that those activities have helped me in lots of different ways:

1) Activity groups involve people! That means that by participating in a group activity, you are automatically immersing yourself in a community. You'll never know how that might help you in the future - a girl who had graduated from my a cappella group got my sister her first job out of college, and even 10 years out of school, another a cappella alumna just referred my husband into a job. Any activity where you create meaningful relationships can not only bring you joy, but can potentially help you down the road.

2) Building out who you are as a person. It's hard to say how much participating in these activities might affect who you are, but I took away critical lessons on leadership, teamwork, and discipline from every group I joined. I use those every day at work!

3) A conversation starter! I still often reference activities that I participated in in college, because they help to show who I am as a person - my interests, hobbies, and passions. Those are things that will always make an impression on people you are meeting throughout your life.

As Ed said above, I hope you participate in activities that really bring you passion and joy. If you follow those two areas, they will stick with you for life!

Good luck!


Edward’s Answer

Hey Cilo!

Thanks for your question! I did many extracurricular activities during college - Was the captain of my university's boxing team, a school ambassador etc etc. Did it help me post college? Absolutely. I have found it a great stepping stone to connect with recruiters from various companies, and has been brought up in interviews! Also - I have found it useful connecting with other folks in my organization and is a great icebreaker! I encourage you to keep up your extracurriculars and do something that you truly enjoy and believe in :)