Involvement increases odds of employment

Guest column by Rachel Birkenhauer. E-mail [email protected]

College enrollment is the highest it’s ever been. This is great for universities but bad for ambitious students.

As the pool of freshmen increases each year, so will expectations and so will competition.

To increase stress, this peak in college enrollment comes amidst a recession that has driven the national unemployment rate to the highest it’s been in more than a quarter of a century.

Not only is it more difficult than ever to break into the top quarter of the class, but once students elbow past each other, they might not even get a job.

What can students do to set themselves apart from their record-breaking classmates?

Nearly every academic adviser or mentor will tell you to build your resume and participate in extracurricular activities.

But don’t just join the clubs and Greek organizations. Actually participate in them. Thousands of students at this university are in clubs, Greek life, church groups and Student Government, but perhaps only a handful actually go above and beyond the “required.”

What catches employers’ eyes are the resumes which shape a well-rounded individual: someone involved at a college level, a community level, and most impressively, a global level.

Perhaps the Twitter trend has caught on too literally, but what’s with all of the followers?

What the local and global community needs now is leaders.

It’s programs like the Turner Leadership Academy in the College of Agriculture that inspire students to become better leaders through experiential learning and interaction within their community.

During a four semester period, students in the program design a Leadership Development Plan and a leadership portfolio, which upon completion, grants them a certificate in formalized leadership development. Employers are looking for students like these with the competencies to become active members of their workplace and community.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”