Trying to find an entry level job right after graduation is tough. I spent pretty much all of my undergrad assuming that I would go straight into graduate school after leaving college, so when I changed my mind and decided to work for a few years before going back to school, I realized I needed to start sending out my résumé.
Unfortunately, because I assumed I would be going back to school, I didn’t bother doing things like internships or even jobs in my field during college. I mainly worked retail jobs and babysat, and neither of those things qualified me for the kind of job I was looking for after graduation, so I had to get creative. I started thinking about how to use what experiences I did have to make me a more marketable employee, even if those experiences were nontraditional. I found one pretty valuable involvement to add to my résumé: my sorority. This is how I used it:
1. Talk About Your Responsibilities
In my experience, pretty much everyone in a sorority has a job. Sure, not everyone is President, but in my own chapter, every girl was given a role. Talk about your job. Even if it seemed insignificant, there’s a way to make it work to your advantage (to invoke a cliché, there are no small roles, only small actors). I was lucky enough to hold an executive board position during my senior year of college. I served as Public Relations Chair for my chapter, and it actually provided me with some valuable skills. I ran our sorority’s blog, learned how to market using social media, and served as the contact point for important alumni. I listed my position and all of my responsibilities on my résumé, and it became something for me to talk about when I was applying for copywriting or public relations jobs. Even if you weren’t on exec, think of ways to highlight what you did for your sorority and turn those points into transferrable skills. Get creative!
2. List Your Philanthropy Work
I’m almost certain it’s a requirement these days for a sorority to have a philanthropy – an organization or charity that the sorority partners with to raise money and awareness for a certain cause. If not, there must have been some sort of volunteer aspect involved. For my own chapter, this was not something we took lightly. We had several fundraising nights throughout the year leading up to our biggest philanthropy event in the spring, and each member was required to both raise a certain amount of money and commit a certain number of hours to philanthropy work. We got to know the families who benefitted from our philanthropy, and pretty much every girl in my chapter would have a story about how she was touched by the volunteer work we did.
Use this to your advantage. Create a space on your résumé for volunteer work. If you’re like me, you probably ended up getting involved in other volunteer opportunities through your sorority outside of your main philanthropy. Talk about them! Volunteer work always looks good. It shows commitment and integrity, and a willingness to step up and get the job done- even if you don’t necessarily get anything in return. These are all attributes employers value.
3. Highlight Any Awards or Recognitions
In my chapter, we had several different ways to honor members who were going above and beyond, and you could do pretty much anything to get recognized. We honored girls who kept a 4.0 GPA all semester, we recognized members who managed to not miss chapter meeting all semester, (which, in my opinion, was harder than the GPA), and we even gave an award for the most enthusiastic sister. We had various honors societies associated with Panhellenic as a whole and different honors societies in our own chapter divided by major. Basically, if you were decent at school and somewhat involved, you received a recognition for something. List any honors you may have received on your résumé. You really want to use the “Recognitions and Skills” section of your résumé to make yourself stand out. Everyone can use Microsoft Office, but was everyone named most studious sister in their sorority? Even if it seems trivial, anything you can use to make yourself unique or highlight your positive attributes will work in your favor.
If you’ve wracked your brain and really can’t think of a specific involvement with your sorority to list, just say you were a member. At the very least, it shows that you were committed to being part of something bigger than yourself, and it proves that you didn’t just sit in your dorm Postmate-ing Thai food and watching Netflix all four years – you cared enough to get involved on campus. And who knows, maybe the person reading your application was a Kappa Alpha Theta or Delta Sigma Theta or Lambda Theta Alpha, and wants to give a fellow sister a chance.
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