We all want to excel in life. For many of us, excelling is synonymous with scoring a GPA above 3.5, getting into a good graduate school, and landing a dream job. I call that the “perfect life.” But how do we work towards this “perfect life?” Sitting at home and writing a blog about it definitely won’t help. So, what can we do to reach our goal of excelling in life?
We all have different definitions for what the perfect life or the ideal life is. For me, as an undergraduate student, the perfect life is about achieving balance—balance between academics and extra-curricular activities. Why is balance important? Well, how many of you have heard your parents say that you should just focus on your academics and get a 4.0 GPA? My parents say that all the time. Literally, all the time!
They believe that by only focusing on academics, I will receive an acceptance letter from a top-notch university and a job offer from a reputable organization. The corollary to this is that giving extra time to non-academic activities will distract me from my academics, and ultimately my purpose in life. In reality, non-academic activities assist us in identifying our purpose and ambitions! For instance, being a member of Pakistan Girls’ Guide Association helped me realize that social work is what I really enjoy doing. Therefore, I ended up choosing a degree in social development and policy.
Similarly, there are other benefits of participating in extra-curricular activities, such as being a part of different clubs and societies, volunteer work, and participation in sports. Extra-curricular activities can be absolutely anything that is non-academic. What are the advantages of putting your time and effort into such activities?
Extra-curricular activities allow you to choose from a range of activities based on your interests. For instance, a friend of mine is pursuing a degree in electrical engineering, but music is his passion. Therefore, to take his passion forward, he is in a leadership position in Music Society on campus. This not only adds value to his CV, but also acts as an escape when everything else gets too stressful. Furthermore, universities and employers are looking for well-rounded candidates, not a person who has spent all their life just reading textbooks and getting a good GPA.
Believe it or not, participating in extra-curricular activities will groom you as a person and you will learn lifelong lessons. Guy Berger for LinkedIn Talent Blog identified the most in-demand soft skills! According to him employers want their potential employees to have good communication, organizational, and time management skills, critical thinking and analytical skills, the ability be a team player, adaptability, and a friendly personality. Participation in extra-curricular activities can equip you with all these skills. For instance, if I am on a basketball team, I have to make sure that I am on-time for all the practices. The team likely consists of players who are of different mindsets and backgrounds than myself, so I have to learn to adapt to different situations and be respectful and tolerant towards everyone. A team’s success is dependent on its players, so if the players lack cooperation and communication, it is likely that conflicts will emerge and the team will fail. Hence, the ability to work in team is a very important skill that you can demonstrate on a CV by participating in activities like that.
Networking is crucial, and you know that! How can participating in extra-curricular activities help you with networking? Well, you can meet many people with the same interests as you, people who inspire you and bring out the best in you, and also people who you don’t really like. In any case, you get to know them on a personal basis through participation in these activities. For instance, if I intern at a human rights NGO and I know my supervisor can connect me with other people in my field, then that would be a positive situation for me. The same goes for other interns working with me. Connections with the right people can land you your dream job. Therefore, interacting with people is essential. Here is more information on how to become a networking star.
In summary, academics are not enough, and extra-curricular activities are important for telling others about yourself and your interests. That is why you should make the most of your time, and manage it wisely. Don’t hesitate to divert large amounts of your attention to your interests, because if you are passionate about something then you’re likely to excel in it.
Shaheera Pesnani is currently one of the interns of the HeySuccess Internship Challenge season V. She comes from Karachi, Pakistan. She is currently pursuing her BSc (Hons) in Social Development and Policy from Habib University, with Ecological Justice and Social Movements being her thematic concentration. Shaheera aspires to be a humanitarian lawyer in the near future.