We’re back to the involvement topic, folks! My favorite subject to discuss when we’re talking about college education. It’s very clear I have a bias here, so you shouldn’t be surprised by this. However, I’m going to tie in student involvement with something I’m sure everyone cares a lot about – career advancement.

Online higher education draws in students that tend to have more of a focus on career advancement than your traditional 18-22 year old college students. You are here because you are taking your career, and your life, seriously – not just because it’s the step you’re supposed to take after high school. You have a much better idea of what you want out of this, and you’re going to do what it takes to get there, not to just get by. And that’s precisely why you have the power to both get involved outside of the classroom and to do it in a way that helps with your career path.

Let’s first talk about how your resume can be enhanced with student involvement, and then we can (briefly) recap what you can do to get involved outside of the classroom. So, how does this kind of stuff magically enhance your resume? Well, that really depends on how you put your resume together. Does your resume currently include sections like a summary, your educational details, your past job experience, and your skills? If so, that’s a great place to start!

The biggest tip I have is to simply add a section to that list for your affiliations and student clubs. This could possibly go along with a section for your volunteer and/or leadership experience. However, if you don’t volunteer, a) don’t include that section, and b) you should consider starting! Volunteering is a great way to boost your resume, develop various workplace skills, and give back to your community while doing so. However, that’s entirely up to you and your schedule – I just had to at least put the idea out there!

When it comes to a leadership section, this is something that may or may not work with your resume. If your leadership experience comes from your student club affiliations, you’ll want to consider which of those two sections best highlights your skills. Whichever you chose to include, the key is to absolutely focus on how those affiliations/leadership roles directly relate to your field/career and the specific job you to which are applying.

For example, let’s say you want to include an “Student Clubs and Affiliations” section. You were a member of the So-and-So University Accounting Club, and you’re a business major looking for a job in Corporate America. Not only do you list that club affiliation, but you include a few bullet points about how you co-presented in a virtual meeting on helpful tips for using Microsoft Office Excel, how you were a member of the newsletter committee and researched and wrote about various roles within the accounting field, and how you held a position on the executive board for a year of your membership. Suddenly, this unpaid, voluntary membership looks almost as impressive in the business world as your current job as an Account Manager – and you did it all while also working and going to school!

If you set your resume up with a section like this, and you have the experience to make sure it isn’t just an empty spot, it can be that little extra something you need to get your resume noticed. And if it works, and you get an interview, you’ve set yourself up to have entirely new topics to discuss with the hiring manager about the skills that makes you great for the job. The key is to simply make sure you’re including the right information in the right place when it comes to your resume.

So now that I’ve highlighted how you can use these student involvement opportunities to boost your resume, how do you get involved in order to get to the point where you can list your responsibilities in clubs? Well, I’m going to do no more here than link you back to my post from 7/16/13 called How You Can Get Involved Outside the Online Classroom. Check that out and start engaging outside the classroom! However, I challenge you to not only get involved on a surface level (join a club, attend a few webinars, etc.), but to actually seek out opportunities to create those bullet pointed skills. Run for office in an organization, volunteer for committees, offer to speak in a webinar on a topic you know well or are passionate about.

The great thing is that you are in a position where you can actually construct your involvement outside the classroom so that it works best with your career ambitions. After all, you’re attending an online college because you know what you want and you’re going to do what it takes to get there. So go for it now, while you’re still building your skills!