The importance of co-curricular skills
Q I study in an engineering college, am hard working and get good grades. But my friends tell me that I also need to participate in extracurricular activities. They say that during placements my experience in these activities will matter more than my percentage.
Is that correct? Do employers really want only average students? Please help.
The journey through any college, including engineering, is replete with various decision-making opportunities — such as should you focus only on academics or participate in extracurricular activities, should you join technical career-oriented clubs or social clubs, should you do a well-paid internship or an unpaid one with great learning opportunities. The truth is that even though these decisions impact your life, there is no right answer to any of these questions.
Let’s see what employers look for in a fresh graduate. They are definitely looking for candidates who are sincere and consistent learners. Many employers will have a cut-off percentage for the campus interview or job application. So, you see, your college grades do have a say in the placement process — which means that academics will always be important. If you apply for a back-end job where content, programming or technical skills are supreme, it is academics that will make the most difference.
Most jobs, however, require some interaction with people — you have to work in teams, collaborate with others, communicate your ideas to convince team members and so on. Therefore it stands to reason that employers also want candidates with communication skills (written and verbal) and people skills.
If you have nothing on your resume to demonstrate that you have developed these soft skills — such as playing a team sport, being member of the debating club, organising plays — an employer will be hard- pressed to make you an offer.
I also understand that if you try to do too much, you can sometimes fall flat on your face. So, using techniques like to-do lists and prioritisation, you can pack in more activities during college without hampering your studies. This will teach you time management skills, which is essential for you to balance your time and energy and be a successful professional.