You need more than a Résumé
The first response I receive when I tell others about some of my extracurricular, job and internship experiences is: “Wow, that will look really good on your résumé.” But you may need more than a resume to get the job you want!
Why? Well, for starters, a résumé is the first thing a potential employer will see. It is what defines you before an employer even has the opportunity to meet you. Therefore, it is imperative to have a clean and full résumé for your best shot at being employed, especially in this extraordinarily competitive job market. No spelling errors, no typos, aesthetically pleasing, full of relevant and prestigious titles. I am not going to argue that having a solid résumé is not important. Because it is. At the same time, this sort of focus implies that the result is more important than the process, or the experience itself.
If you do something because it will look good on your résumé, you are doing it for the wrong reason. Enjoy the experiences as they come. Learn from them. The reason that having past experience on your résumé is important is to show that you have taken the initiative to learn something. If you do not care about learning and are not passionate about what you’re doing, it is a false representation of you on your résumé. You are already off to a bad start.
When I talk about being news editor of my college newspaper, I hear all the time about how impressive that is and how good it will look on my résumé. Sure it will, and that is important for me to get a job. So is building a portfolio. But that is not why I am doing the job, or why I am on the newspaper. I am on the newspaper because I absolutely love it, and acting as the news editor is a great experience. I learn a lot every day, and I have been able to help run a newspaper with some other truly amazing individuals.
We are so focused on the goal—the prize, the money, the success—that we forget to reinforce how absolutely valuable and important learning is. Of course it is important to have a job that pays well to have a comfortable life. But that is never guaranteed, even with all of your fancy internships and volunteer work. Nothing is ever guaranteed. But this moment is. The reward really is living and experiencing.
So next time, when a young adult comes up to you excited about a debate tournament, or an internship with a large and important corporation, say, “That is a great experience. You will learn so much.” It will probably look good on his or her résumé too, but, that’s not what it’s all about.