You probably participated in extracurricular activities during high school and your undergraduate career, but maybe you haven’t thought about doing these activities during grad school. Yes, graduate school is an extremely important time to focus on classes, assignments, and theses or dissertations; however, the main reason you go to grad school is to advance your knowledge and experience in your field. What better way to do both of these things than to be involved with practical activities outside of school? Here are four ways to participate in extracurricular activities and get the most out of your graduate school years.
Network with professionals in your field.
I’ve written about networking before, but the importance of networking can’t be stressed enough. Network by finding a link to the field you are studying. For instance, one of your professors might know a professional in your field, or you might still have connections to employers at your undergraduate internship. However you connect to the field, network with those professionals to learn more about your chosen career. Ask those professionals about their path through school and the extracurricular activities that helped them gain real world experience.
Take their advice, and explore your options.
Whatever your focus is in school, there will be a good match for you in the available activities outside of classes. Check out the options that are available for you straight from your grad program; you can find honor societies that help the community, research opportunities with professors, or fellowship positions in your department. For instance, if you are getting a Master’s of Education, it might be beneficial to volunteer at a school.
Avoid unnecessary clubs and activities.
Most of you should already know the difference between appropriate and inappropriate groups and extracurricular activities, but I wanted to make this distinction anyway. Unnecessary activities would include participating in video game clubs and volunteering at institutions that do not pertain to your field. These activities are good in some ways, such as helping other people and increasing your network. However, you should choose extracurricular activities that are more relevant and valuable to your experience in the field, like the ones I list below.
Participate in necessary and beneficial extracurricular activities.
Necessary activities include internships and society memberships that might be required by your graduate programs. However, don’t restrict yourself to requirements from your program; employers will be even more impressed if they see that you joined an honor society that pertains to your field or spent time researching with a professor outside of class, even if no extracurricular activities were required of you.
Extracurricular activities can be beneficial in grad school if you take time to network with professionals in your field, explore your options inside and outside your program, avoid unnecessary clubs and activities, and participate in positive and beneficial activities. Employers are definitely going to notice that you added one or two practical ways to gain experience and increase your knowledge in the field, so don’t be afraid to go the extra mile for your career. Do you participate in any extracurricular activities or have any further advice for other readers? Let us know in the comment section below.