Volunteer Efforts Spruce Up Resumes

Article excerpt

University of Pittsburgh students Raeesa Islam and Jacky Chen recently spent a morning visiting residents of the UPMC Heritage Place nursing and rehabilitation center in Squirrel Hill.

Although their primary goal was to spend the day donating their time to the community as part of Pitt student outreach, both Ms. Islam, 18,a freshman, and Mr. Chen, 19, a sophomore, know that an added bonus is the fact that volunteer work will look good on their resumes for employment or graduate school. Both are hoping to go to medical school.

"Community service is a highly valued component to student resumes," said Cheryl Finlay, director of Pitt's Office of Career Development & Placement Assistance.

How students spend time outside of the classroom can be almost as important as how they spend their time inside the classroom when it comes to job prospects.

While university placement officials make it clear that academic success should be the first priority for college students, having the right soft skills and activities to list on a resume is a close second.

"I think we are in a period where good grades are imperative, but not necessarily enough," said David Wasieleski, chair of the management department in the Palumbo-Donahue School of Business at Duquesne University.

Some clubs and activities are better than others in terms of helping students to learn the soft skills employers are seeking.

Those skills, according to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, are: the ability to work in a team; ability to make decisions and problem solve; ability to obtain and process information; ability to plan, organize and prioritize work; and ability to communicate verbally.

In addition, university officials said, leadership qualities are highly valued among prospective employers.

Topping the list of preferred clubs and organizations are student chapters of professional organizations associated with students' majors.

"These types of organizations connect students to real experiences that can benefit them and connect them to professionals who are working in their fields," said Shari Payne, dean of engaged learning at Robert Morris University. …