A resume and statistics chart on a wooden table near a Mac laptop

Do It For Yourself, Not Your Resume

“Do it for your resume, it’ll look good!”

How many times have we, as students, heard that phrase? Or numerous variations of it?

In high school, we were encouraged to do extracurriculars, join clubs and teams, participate in activities outside of school. We were told it was all to bulk up our college resumes and make our applications stand out among the hundreds of other applicants. A good many of us do, or did, things because it was also fun, but some people are forced by their parents to do everything, regardless of whether or not they enjoy it.

And when you think about it, it makes no difference.

There are hundreds of kids out there just like you, doing the same thing, sending in a similar resume. Everyone has extracurricular activities and volunteer stuff on their applications. High school advisers seem to be the only ones that remember the essay is what really makes the impact; your resume comes second.

Then we get to college. We’re pushed to get internships, work part-time jobs, be active in on-campus activities, participate. It’s all to make our job resume look good. It’s to show recruiters that we have work ethic, social skills, all the good workplace mannerisms.

But when does doing any of this become about anything BUT your resume?

We should be living and doing things for ourselves, not for a list. We should be having jobs to make money, learn how to budget, build experience, and learn how to engage with people, not to just have something under “work experience.” We should volunteer because it’s giving back to the community and helping others, not because it’s another bullet point under “volunteer experience.”

All the activities and groups we partake in should be even somewhat for our own enjoyment, not because they’ll make employers think higher of us.

I’ve watched high school students run themselves ragged trying to be a part of everything, do everything, just to get into the top college of their choice. They feel pressured to do more than they can handle, and no one is telling them it doesn’t change much. I’ve seen college kids make themselves insane taking all the courses they need, hold a job, and/or do an internship (or two!) to make themselves look the best for future employers.

All the clubs, teams, extracurriculars, leadership programs, special classes—that should all be done because you want to and you enjoy them. Not because your resume needs padding.

I know there’s more I’m not getting to, additional points I’m not making. I know that everyone has different circumstances, that many people are doing things because they want to and because they enjoy them.

But I also see so many people who are not as fortunate. Many people, especially high school students, still believe that their resume is one of the most important things ever.

Is your resume important? Of course, there’s no denying that. But you can’t live your life and do things just to add onto a list. That is not living.

I, for one, am tired of living life and doing things just to tack on another bullet point. I am learning to do things because I want to be a part of them, because I want the experiences and knowledge I can gain.

And if something can be added on to my resume, great. But that will never be the leading reason for doing anything.

*Originally posted on Odyssey

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