12 Careers To Consider if You’ve Led a Campus Organization
Academics and internships aren't the only things that can define your career path.
Although college students dedicate a lot of time to their major, academics are only part of the college experience. Often, you learn just as much outside of the classroom as you do inside of the classroom, and these experiences can inspire your future career path. A prime example is leading a campus organization, which fosters interpersonal skills, management abilities, and a strong work ethic, all of which are highly valued in the workforce. Whether you were part of student government, editor-in-chief of a campus publication, or an officer for an intramural sport, here are some career paths that are ideal for student leaders.
1. Project Manager
Project managers wear many hats, but the overall job description involves overseeing the conception, design, planning, control, monitoring, and closing of a project. Project managers can work in many different industries, ranging from web development to marketing to engineering. Student leaders are uniquely equipped for project manager roles because they involve training and managing a team in order to execute a project on time.
If you love public speaking and inspiring others, you can find a fulfilling career in the classroom. While most public schools require a degree in education as well as a teaching license from the state, private schools and charter schools will hire recent graduates with strong potential and a bachelor’s degree in a relevant subject. Charter schools like Success Academy offer the support and training necessary to begin your career as a teacher, as well as professional development opportunities throughout the year to help you hone your skills in areas like leadership, project management, public speaking, and data analysis. Working in education allows you to see both the day-to-day and big-picture impact of your work, making this the perfect career for campus leaders who strive to make a difference.
3. Human Resources Administrator
Leading a student organization involves working with a lot of different people, including other students, faculty, and administrators. A career in human resources is a fantastic way to draw upon these interpersonal strengths. Working as an HR administrator enables you to collaborate with an organization’s employees for job responsibilities such as payroll and compensation, recruiting and staffing, and training and development. Since most companies will have an HR department, you can work for a company in any industry that you feel passionate about.
If you were an editor for a student publication, you may wish to consider working as an editor for your full-time gig. Editors are employed by newspapers, magazines, or companies to edit or proofread written material before it gets published. Editors often work with a team of writers, reporters, freelancers, or management personnel to develop an editorial calendar and ensure publications stay on schedule. This is a great option for student leaders who excel with words as well as with people.
5. Management Consultant
Student leaders are often adept at solving problems and suggesting organizational changes to improve outcomes. Likewise, management consultants help organizations to optimize performance and improve their financial and operational health. Management consultants usually work for large consulting companies, and they might specialize in industries like healthcare or finance. In general, management consultants work with clients by undergoing a discovery process (interviews, observations, data analysis, etc.) to understand the client’s business and pain points. From there, they will work with senior leadership to recommend solutions that will ultimately improve the organization’s well-being.
6. Community Manager
Were you the person in charge of your student organization’s social media, or hanging up the flyers in the dorm rooms to recruit new members? Were you someone that made sure members stayed engaged with and excited about your organization? If so, you might be interested in the role of a “Community Manager.” While the exact responsibilities of this role differ from company to company, community managers are largely responsible for cultivating an engaged community of consumers or users through things like events, online forums, and engagement on social media. Having strong communication and soft skills coupled with an understanding of brand voice could make you a strong fit for this profile.
If you were elected student body president or managed a campus political chapter, pursuing a career that will one day land you in a political office could be right for you. As a politician, you will need to excel at public speaking, be skilled at networking and connecting with new people, and possess a strong moral compass. There’s no set path to become a politician, but working for a political campaign or political advocacy group that aligns with your values are both great ways to become familiar with how elections work, learn what goes into a successful campaign, and discover what policies you’re passionate about. Careers in public service – like the military, education, or as a public defender – can also be a great step toward one day running for office.
8. Construction Manager
Similar to a project manager, a construction manager oversees the development of a project. In this case, the projects are in the construction industry and could range from home renovations to massive skyscrapers. Construction managers must keep all workers on schedule and on budget, as well as maintain safety regulations on a job site. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, construction managers earned an average of $93,370 in 2018, making it a leadership role with a paycheck well above the national average.
College students who led intramural sport teams may be interested in a career as a coach. Athletic coaches instruct individual athletes or sports teams on practice drills and game play in order to optimize their performance on the field. Coaches might also work on behalf of a sports team, such as a university’s football team, to scout and recruit new talent. If sports are not your cup of tea, there are other coaching options you could pursue. For example, you might choose a career as a life coach, financial coach, or wellness coach depending on your area of expertise.
10. Management or Leadership Track
Believe it or not, some companies will fast-track you to management through leadership or management development programs. Rather than beginning as an individual contributor and working your way up the ladder, leadership development programs equip employees with the skills to become future leaders at the company, often providing management experience within the first few years of your career. While these programs tend to be highly competitive to get into, they can be a great way to set your career on course for management from the beginning. If you start your career in a leadership development program, except at least 1-2 years of training and rotations before settling on a more permanent focus.
11. Sales Representative
If you were often the “face” representing your organization as part of the executive board, you might enjoy a career in sales. Sales representatives work on behalf of a company to sell products or services to organizations (B2B) or individual consumers (B2C). Sales representatives are known for their strong communication skills and ability to connect with people over the phone, in person, during sales presentations, or over email. Sales reps must be highly organized and driven in order to meet their quotas, presenting new and exciting challenges every day.
12. Entrepreneur / Startup Employee
Were you the founder of your school’s yoga club, or the president of a new fraternity/sorority? If starting an organization from scratch is your forte, then working for yourself as an entrepreneur is another viable career path. Now is an ideal time to leverage those connections you made in college to bring your burgeoning nonprofit, startup, or business idea to fruition. If starting a business on your own isn’t for you, then you might also enjoy working for a startup. Entrepreneurs and startup employees take on a lot of responsibility quickly, with job duties that could involve building a team, developing a launch plan, and marketing a new product or service.
As you apply for jobs, highlight your student leadership experience on your resume to provide a more holistic picture of the skills you learned in college and how they apply to your chosen field. Remember, even if your major does not necessarily map onto a specific career (like public relations or human resources), proving that you were a student leader can showcase your qualifications in a compelling way.