Nieszczur: Getting the most out of student involvement

August 29, 2018

The start of a new school year brings the prospect of joining new organizations and making new friendships. 


It can be overwhelming at first, however, to attend events including the Student Involvement Fair and feel pressured to sign up for everything.


Although you may have heard that you need to build up your resume with the most amount of involvement possible, this may not be completely true. 


According to, recruiters spend an average time of six seconds looking at a resume. Recruiters often aren’t looking for a long list of ‘member’ involvement, but rather ‘leadership’ involvement.  


How can you make your six seconds of fame count the most? Here are six tips:


1. Cut the ‘fluff’.


If you’ve been to one meeting for an organization or grabbed a goody from them in the union, this does not qualify as membership status. 


Filling up your resume with membership status is not necessarily a bad thing, but you need to put some descriptions regarding your involvement in that group. 


As a member, did you attend a philanthropy event? Volunteer? Work a table shift in the union? 


Be sure to only include ‘member’ involvement if you can actually back up your status with events and activities.


2. It’s OK to say ‘no’.


If you already feel like you are being pulled 20 different directions and don’t have enough time on your plate for another commitment, just say no!


It can certainly be hard to turn down an offer, especially if your friends are trying to get you to join something. Stick to your guns.


Only you know how to best balance your plate to keep yourself at peace.


Learn only to join organizations that you can fully commit to, because the organization likely only wants you to commit if you see yourself benefitting them in the long run.


3. Start early and move up the leadership ladder.


Get involved on campus as soon as you can. Don’t wait until your junior or senior year to join groups, in hopes of a last-ditch effort to build up your resume for potential employers. 


It looks much better to see a candidate who joined a group early on as a member and transformed into a leadership position as they progressed through school. 


This shows that you are committed to your cause and have leadership potential. 


4. Find what matters to you and leave the rest behind.


If you’re reading this and already feel that you are over-involved and have too much on your plate, it’s not too late to slim down your involvement list.


Take some time to reflect on the organizations you are involved in and why they matter to you.


Can you see yourself developing with this group?Do you want to take on a leadership position?Do you have meaningful experiences with this group to talk about in a future interview?


If not, maybe it’s time to cut ties with that group, so that you can better focus your time and attention on groups that really matter to you.Your time is precious and is best spent dedicated to causes that you really care about.


5. See an election loss as a growth opportunity.


If you wanted to acquire a leadership position in an organization but lost a voting election for it, don’t be discouraged.


Just putting yourself out there and showing that you want to be further involved shows your dedication to the group. 


There are often multiple people interested in leadership positions, but only a limited number of positions available, so don’t take it personally.  Rather than seeing it as a defeat, take this opportunity to join committees or sign up for more opportunities within the organization. 


When you run again next year for a leadership position, you have more experience to back up your qualifications for the position and more to say in an interview, regardless if you get the position or not. 


6. It’s not too late.



Perhaps you are an upperclassman who is yet to be really involved in an organization or join a group at all. 


Although it may be discouraging, it’s not too late to do something.  Find a group that is meaningful to you.  Be involved in your last year(s), and make the most of the time you have. 


If you are questioned in an interview as to why you took so long to join something, it’s OK to be honest and admit that you either didn’t find what you liked or you were afraid of putting yourself out there. 


Showing that you did join something, late or not, still shows your desire to be involved.  Some involvement is better than none, and an employer will recognize that. 


Remember that meaningful involvement holds heavier weight than a lot of membership statuses. 


With hundreds of student organizations available through UT, take time to find a group you love and dedicate your time to bettering it and growing with it.


Alexis Nieszczur is a fifth-year P3 PharmD student.




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