Leadership has been the new black among employers for a while now. You might feel like every company wants a leader in their midst, even when it comes to junior positions. And you’re not wrong: they do.
That’s why leadership is also regularly featured in the lists of the most valuable soft skills. Case in point: Udemy’s 2020 Workplace Learning Trends Report included it in the top 10 soft skills workers need the most.
If you’re reading this, you’re a student who knows that building these particular skills is a matter of your future survival in the job market. Even if your focus, for now, is studying, this is one trade-off you have to be prepared for. You can start to notice your GPA dwindling. This is solvable, though: you can study better with essay writing service EssayPro and still have time for other ventures. Trust, this time investment will pay itself off tenfold.
Why now, you may ask. Students have a lot more resources at their disposal than others. Student leadership programs are the best example.
3 Reasons to Prioritise Participating in Such a Program
Student programs are barely the only way to acquire and practice your leadership skills. You have plenty of books written on the topic, along with online courses and blogs, all available in a couple of clicks online. Why bother with participating in a whole program?
To put it bluntly, it’s arguably the best option you have at your disposal, and there are 3 main reasons why.
1. You’ll be learning by doing.
Any soft skill can be built only through practice. While the theory is handy for better understanding people’s behaviour, for example, you can’t learn to empower others without going into the field and trying to do it.
2. It has the networking element to it.
Apart from talking to your fellow participants and mentors, most programs have various events (conferences, summits, etc.). There, you can mingle with people from all walks of life: top-level managers, startup founders, and more.
Supplementary reading: Developing Leaders Through Community Service
3. You’ll have the official recognition of your skills.
Successful participants usually receive certificates at the end of their learning. So, you will have something to prove that the word “leadership” on your resume is there for a good reason. Plus, you can get an endorsement or win an award.
4 Ways These Programs Will Benefit Your Future Career
So, how exactly will this investment benefit you once you’re in the job market? Here are four answers to this question.
1. You’ll Get Your First Job Faster
That networking mentioned above? When you’re a recent college grad, who you know matters, oftentimes, more than your actual diploma.
You never know who will notice your abilities or share news about a job opening at their company. But once they do, you get on the fast track to your first job.
And employers actively scout for prominent participants with enough potential there, too. So, if you put in the work, you might get an offer without even applying for a job or internship.
But that’s not even all! Most programs work together with employers to offer internships and co-ops to their participants. And, as you probably already know, if you prove yourself and your value during an internship, it can eventually turn into a job offer.
2. Your Resume Will Stand Out
Even if you don’t land a job thanks to networking or in-program internships and co-ops, having the certificate itself will come in handy. It’ll look great on your resume and help you get your foot in the door and score more job interviews.
The thing is, leadership skills aren’t valuable just for management positions. If you apply for a job that involves a lot of collaboration and teamwork (and it’s tough to find a job that doesn’t), they’ll come in handy, too. And employers know that.
This may interest you: How to Showcase Leadership Strengths on a Resume
Of course, you could just put “leadership” into the soft skills section of your resume and be done with it. But, just with any skill, it does miracles for your employability when you have a specific example of why it’s there. It can either be how you acquired it or how it helped you succeed.
3. You’ll Be on the Fast Track to Getting Promoted
It’s not just the fact that you participated in this or that program that’ll matter—it’s what you’ll have learned there, too. These skills just come into play a bit later.
Since management roles are synonymous with leadership, all the competencies you’ve acquired will prime you for a promotion. Even though employers rarely state outright that they’re looking for leadership skills in the potential promotees, it’s always a criterion.
So, once you prove your skills don’t exist only on paper, your journey to the top of the career ladder will get fast-tracked. In other words, you’ll get promoted faster than those without these skills.
4. You’ll Be Able to Switch Careers More Easily
Sometimes, people want to move away from one career in favour of another. That can happen for any number of reasons, and you can find yourself among the career switchers at some point in your life.
The good news is, leadership skills are transferable. That means you can use them across all industries whenever management is involved. Ergo, once you acquire this skill set and prove its value in one industry, you’re a lot more likely to get a similar position in another.
How to Find a Student Leadership Program
So, you’re sold on the idea and want to get into this kind of adventure while you have the chance. How do you find one? And, what’s more important, how do you know for sure it’s going to live up to your expectations?
Consider these 6 tips to choose the best program for you:
1. Check your alma mater’s website. Most colleges and universities have their own programs, with conferences, workshops, retreats, and more.
2. Look for big companies’ programs. Have a dream of working at a particular company? Check their website—they might have their own programs. Accenture, an international software development company, has one, for example.
3. Talk to non-profits in your area. They often have similar calls for participation for traditionally underprivileged communities (ethnic minorities, women, people with disabilities, etc.).
4. Check eligibility criteria and screening process. Typically, applicants aren’t required to show any previous leadership experience. Still, sometimes, it’s demanded. Or, there could be other eligibility criteria like your major or year of study.
5. Reach out to the staff of the program. Do it if you have questions about what you should expect from it or whether it can benefit you personally.
6. Get some real reviews. Find its alumni and drop them a line. Ask them what they liked or didn’t. That way, it’ll be clear whether it’s worth your time.
Final Thoughts: Leadership Is a Skill, Not an Innate Talent
If you think, “I’m not the kind of person to be a leader,” that’s an even better reason to enrol in a student program. It’s literally designed to help you build this skill set.
True, some people are more predisposed to being great leaders than others. They have this “natural” charisma that comes to your mind when imagining a perfect manager. And you might think you can’t be persuasive enough for people to follow you.
Read more: The Art of Persuasion in a Multicultural World
But leadership is a skill—you can build it through tireless learning and practice. And these programs are here to help you do just that. So, go ahead and apply for one of them!
There are so many ways for students, everyone to hone their leadership prowess. Particularly in a student’s case, there are always opportunities to prove themselves worthy of the leadership badge. School programmes, external activities, and many more can be the start of their exposure to leadership. As mentioned above, “Students have a lot more resources at their disposal than others”. Never let apprehension be a hindrance to your own growth! Take charge and march forward. What a fun segue into introducing our product Necole. Necole is a state of the art learning platform that curates personalised learning just for you. To find out more about necole, click here or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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