I am a firm believer in the unequivocal importance of extracurricular activities - especially during one's collegiate career. While traditional course work is necessary in solidifying concepts and providing students with a foundational understanding of the text and subject matter, coursework alone does not provide students with all of the necessary skills needed to succeed post grad...and I do not believe it was ever meant too.
Experience is valuable in determining employment post grad. In a world consumed with A's, now it is not all about GPA. Employers want to see that you are able to manage your time, and converse in social setting etc.
I was an RA (resident assistant) on campus for two and a half of my four (and a half) years at Southeastern University. I was approached about the position by a Resident Director, Vanessa, who effectively changed my life through her encouragement and influence. In fact, she was the first person in my adult collegiate career who looked me in the eye and told me that she truly saw greatness inside of me. Never underestimate the power of an encouraging word. This conversation launched me into a orbit that revolved around servant leadership on my campus.
Now, as the Director of Student Leadership at Southeastern University, I find myself in the unique role of coaching and mentoring student leaders on the very same campus that shaped me nearly 5 years before.
Each year, between the months of January and February, the department of Student Development interviews well over 300 students, each with a passion to serve their student body in a student leadership position. It is a very difficult process due to the sheer number of stellar leaders on campus! All this talent makes choosing the right student leader for each position very difficult.
I have interviewed countless candidates for student leadership roles, and I understand that the application process may seem daunting for a new student who has never personally done it before. Honestly, it is probably still daunting for students who have done it before! Regardless of whether you are a newbie or a veteran applicant, here are a few tips to help you stand out during your university's student leadership interview process.
1. Proximity is Everything
Offer your hand in service by volunteering with the team you are interested in being a part of. You want your future up-leader, as well as the current team members, to know who you are prior to interviewing for a role on the team.
"Fit" is important. If you can prove that you have chemistry with the current team, you are far more likely to be selected for a position on that team in the future. Do not underestimate the power of "fit". In my opinion, I would rather choose someone who fit well with my team, and then train them to do the job that needs to be done over someone who is qualified to do the job but does not mesh well with the team.
2. Do Your Research
I cannot tell you how disappointing it is when I ask an interviewee "So, are you aware of the role you are applying for?" and their answer is "Actually, no, I was going to ask you...I just heard that there was an open position." I am impressed with the students who have gone above and beyond to learn about the role and the team with which they are applying.
I encourage all students interviewing for student leadership to do their research and come to the interview knowledgable, and ready to ask very specific questions regarding the desired position.
This is an important step in the process considering one position can have as many as 20-30 applicants applying for it.
3. Impress in the Interview
This is, by far, one of the most important aspects of the student leadership application process. I allot no more than 15 minutes for each interview. Students must use those 15 minutes very wisely in order to make an impactful and positive first impression. Out of the 15 minute interview, the first 5 minutes are the most crucial. Here are a few things that always impress me when interviewing students for student leadership positions:
4. Know Your Why
While student leadership positions usually come with a scholarship award, I encourage all student leaders to apply for these positions as if they will receive no financial/monetary compensation for them. I say this because, your heart must be in the right place when choosing to serve the student body.
Again, I am a firm believer in the value of extracurricular activities, especially during one's collegiate experience. Traditional coursework alone was never meant to prepare a student for life post grad, and the invaluable experience gained from involvement in student leadership is well worth it's weight in gold!
Were you involved in student leadership on your college campus/university? How did that experience impact you and prepare you for your career post grad? Leave a comment below and subscribe for more updates from www.stasiarose.com!
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