Having relevant education and experience are both vital aspects to landing a job.
However, in most industries, having something additional on your resume which sets you apart can be the key to landing employment sooner rather than later.
In the engineering field, the majority of students are going to come out of school with essentially the same skills and experiences as their classmates, which is why it is essential to highlight any involvement and achievements in activities outside the classroom.
Getting involved in something like an engineering society at your school is a great option. Rose Ghamari, President of the Ryerson Engineering Student Society, and Carolyn Wright, a Career Counsellor at the University of Toronto’s Engineering Career Centre, explain why.
You’ll enhance your skills
Many engineering students focus only on showcasing their technical abilities. However, employers are increasingly looking for engineering students and graduates with “soft” skills too.
“Being a member of an engineering society requires very good interpersonal skills, the ability to communicate effectively and excellent teamwork,” Rose says.
However, the skills you can gain are endless depending on how much you wish to involve yourself in a society. For example, “I met with students who have organized conferences, which builds incredibly strong transferable skills,” Carolyn says.
You’ll make connections in your industry
Joining a society allows you to network with fellow engineering students, established professional engineers and employers, building your network of contacts within the industry. Many societies even organize conferences and networking events to introduce students to potential employers, which can assist you with career exploration.
“The majority of jobs are never posted online in this ‘hidden job market’. Candidates are found through referrals and personal networks; adding industry contacts may lead to more opportunities,” Carolyn says.
You’ll stand out from the crowd
“Employers are definitely looking for students who have been part of a society,” Rose says. “It shows that the student is also able to work in non-technical environments and that they have the necessary interpersonal skills required for properly working in a team environment.”
Furthermore, being involved in a society while simultaneously balancing a full work load in school will indicate to an employer that you are able to handle the stress of having multiple things on the go.
However, every employer is unique. “Different experiences will stand out to different employers,” Carolyn adds. “Having joined an engineering society might indicate a strong interest or passion for that field.”
You’ll build a better resume
Use your engineering society experience on your resume and in job interviews to demonstrate why you’re perfect for the job. Include your society membership under a section on your resume entitled something like “Extra-Curricular Activities” or “Affiliations and Memberships”.
If you are heavily involved in the organization, perhaps in an executive position, Carolyn suggests including a few bullet points to highlight relevant skills and accomplishments that resulted from your involvement.
Recommended reading: How To Write An Effective Engineering Resume
How to get involved
Whether you’re a first year student who is thinking ahead, or a final year student who is making a last-minute dash to beef up your resume, your school’s engineering society will likely be happy to hear that you want to get involved. The beginning of the school year is the perfect time to get started, but executive-level positions may be chosen or elected near the end of each year.
“It is fairly easy to be part of a student society at Ryerson,” Rose says. “We have a lot of positions available which do not require any past experience.”
All in all, getting involved in anything – whether it be an engineering society, club, or volunteer opportunity – will provide you with the opportunity to meet industry contacts and learn more about your field.
If you’re already involved, tell us what you’ve gained by joining your school’s engineering society in the comments below!
Photo credit: Frosh Week Helmet by Nick D.M. on Flickr