According to a recent survey The Hanyang Journal(The HJ) conducted, 81 percent of the respondents said they preferred activities sponsored by corporations, including volunteer work, to club activities on campus. Moreover, 79 percent of the respondents who claimed to prefer company-related activities answered that among the reasons for their choice is that they believe such activities would be more helpful in their future employment.
Current university students who are busy preparing for employment tend to choose extra-curricular activities on the basis of whether they think it would be beneficial to add them on their resume. Based on such a perspective, club activities, once regarded as one of the most favorable aspects of university life, are being increasingly overlooked by university students. Despite the growing interest in company-related activities, it is questionable as to whether or not this preference is actually more beneficial than participating in club activities.
Company-related Activities Overtaking Campus Club Activities
The reason for this change in university students’ extra-curricular preferences is the fact that the recruitment standards of companies have changed. Choi Ki-won, the chairman of the National Universities Employment Manager Council, explained saying, “The previous recruitment trend of companies was to seek ‘leadership’ qualities in their candidates and thus they focused on those who were presidents of university clubs. The new trend, however, emphasizes ‘special’ experiences of applicants. Such trends combined with corporations’ demands for professionalism is causing students to choose more company-related activities rather than traditional club activities.”
According to UnivTomorrow Research Laboratory for the Twenties, 41.4 percent of 800 university students surveyed answered that they have participated in activities sponsored by corporations and the average number of their participation is 2.17. Programs run by prestigious companies are particularly in great demand. For instance, the “College Student Cross Country with Bacchus” program, one of the most popular corporation-related activities where students hike across the entire country, has a competition ratio of 1:130.
Thus, students must compete vigorously to be accepted to these types of activities. Kim Do-yun, a sophomore in the College of Education at Sungkyunkwan University, said, “Students have to prepare qualifications such as having a high TOEIC score as well as computer-related certifications just to be selected for activities sponsored by companies. I have heard that many students even pay more than one million won to buy blog sites to use as their own when applying for company-related program, thinking it will give them a winning edge in the selection process.”
Meanwhile, many university students think that club activities are not helpful for their careers. According to The HY Journal survey, 64 percent of the respondents said they considered campus club activities to be useless in terms of getting a job. Lee Ju-lee, a Junior in the College of Policy Science at Hanyang University(HYU), claimed that club activities do not positively contribute to a student’s future employment and can even be a waste of time and money to those in their twenties who have employment prospects on their minds. “I think that there is a romantic notion about university life for some students who believe joining a campus club is necessary in order to have an enjoyable university life, but doing so is actually a squandering of time and money. When I was a freshman, I once joined in an academic club. I expected professional discussions and an academic atmosphere, but found instead that the members only wanted to hang out. It was all useless for my future.”
As a result of this kind of attitude toward campus clubs, programs sponsored by corporations have been in greater demand making efforts to organize club activities increasingly difficult. According to the president of Club Association at HYU, the number of Hanyangians who joined campus clubs has decreased from over 3,000 to about 2,000 students over the last 10 years.
Poorly Made Company-related Activities and the Counterattack of Clubs
While many university students opt for company sponsored programs rather than traditional club activities, there is a rising debate as to whether company-held activities provide a better experience. A report by Campus Job&Joy, a magazine for those in their twenties, discovered that 39.1 percent of university students surveyed said they thought that there were already too many programs sponsored by renowned companies but involved simple tasks. In addition, 22 percent said that most of corporate activities involved doing the same tasks.
Furthermore, in reality only a few participants actually gain benefits from participating in company-related activities. A human resource manager in Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. who wished to remain anonymous commented, “There are no additional points that the company gives for applicants who have been involved in corporation-related activities during recruitment. Those activities merely serve to provide some work experience.” Corporate-related activities are not of any use unless a participant really stands out in the eyes of the recruiters, earning for example, special awards or other outstanding types of recognition that are unique to the individual. Even though getting accepted to such programs in the first place is considerably difficult, most of the activities have turned out to be less helpful than expected for one’s resume as well as broadening one’s experience, it has been claimed.
Therefore, it is argued that club activities can benefit students more in terms of helping members to gain valuable personal experiences. Lee Se-mi, a Junior in the School of Communications at Kookmin University, who participates in both club activities and company-related activities claimed, “Unlike company-related activities, club activities can give university students the opportunity to impress recruiters by sharing the valuable personal experiences they gain through campus clubs. For instance, I have joined and worked in a college theater group. I was in charge of managing the budget and my experience of walking around neighborhoods to soliciting donations which is a good story to share with recruiters, especially when applying a job in the marketing sector.”
Depending on Oneself
The new semester has finally begun and soon it will be time for university clubs to start recruiting new members, as will recruiters for corporate programs. For Hanyangians wondering about which extra-curricular activities to choose, the chairman Choi advised, “We should not ignore recruitment trends that look for either ‘special’ experiences and professionalism, or both. However, the important thing is that you should set a goal and make a plan to achieve it.”
All in all, while it may be a good idea to build up extra-curricular experiences, choices about which programs to join should not made strictly between club activities and corporate programs, but rather on how each individual seeks to enrich his or her life.