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Gain An Edge: How Service And Extracurricular Activity Can Help Job Seekers

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A few BTVI Cosmetology students volunteered at British American Financial’s Back to School celebration last summer, offering complimentary haircuts for the boys and simple hairstyles for the girls.

Employers are looking for interests beyond the classroom in potential recruits so the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute is providing help . . .

In 2015, Victory University of Wellington, New Zealand, conducted a survey seeking to determine what employers look for when recruiting students and graduates.

Out of the 346 employers who participated, the number one attribute they were looking for was work ethic, but they also considered extracurricular activities as important.

According to the survey results, employers are seeking signs of interests that extend beyond academics, including hands-on experience in a work environment.

The results highlight the value that employers place on students and graduates being well-rounded individuals.

At the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI), the Student Affairs team is cognisant that the diligent employer looks beyond the superficial resume, but rather seeks potential employees who are graduates who have broadened their horizons beyond the classroom. Hence, student life at BTVI is made up of a variety of organisations and activities which supplement the technical career training.

For example, BTVI’s Dean of Student Services, Racquel Bethel, notes the importance of connecting students with society. Ms Bethel is convinced that giving is a part of learning. She said her team will continue to push for activities that motivate students to become more community-minded.

“At BTVI we believe that involvement in clubs and activities is essential to the overall development of not only a great resume, but a good citizen. It provides students with opportunities to develop leadership, personal and social skills, while making their college experience more enjoyable,” she said.

“A mandate of BTVI is to build good citizens. We want them to value giving back. It builds character and model citizens.”

One of the five pillars of the institution’s strategic plan is community engagement, which includes the development and implementation of service projects to assist the community.

In February, 19 students from the Hair Analysis class volunteered their services to a live-in senior citizens’ home on Soldier Road. Instructor Monique A Marshall noted that although the students were getting hands-on experience, that was not the main focus.

“It’s not just about getting experience. It’s deeper than that. These residents need attention and from the looks on their faces, they are loving it. Someone is taking the time to attend to them and I am honoured to be here,” she said during the visit.

Meanwhile, there are several recognised student organisations at BTVI that help to foster well-rounded students. They include, but are not limited to, the Student Christian Movement, the Fine Arts Club, the Automotive Club, Gaming League and Student Ambassadors.

Information Technology Management student, Gerrard Russell, stated in an earlier interview in this series that BTVI gave him more than a degree. It expanded his horizons, giving him opportunities beyond the classroom.

“At BTVI, my mind has been opened to software engineering and app development,” the 2016 student said. “I was given the opportunity to go on an exchange programme to Fanshawe College, attend a technology summit in Antigua and Barbuda, and participate in the BTC hackathon - all because of BTVI,” he said.

Ms Bethel suggests that student activity has its benefits as opposed to simply attending classes and leaving.

“Extracurricular activities can aid in enhancing job applications, resumes, internships or even a financial aid application. It demonstrates that the student is a well-rounded individual, who is able to balance the demands of life,” she noted.

Admittedly, Ms Bethel said that for the majority of BTVI’s students, it is a challenge to juggle family life, work and studies. Hence, extracurricular activities become even less of a priority.

“We, however, strive to offer students clubs that will allow them to explore their area of interest, in addition to ones that can enhance community involvement and volunteerism. We find just through a simply act of service, students can develop personal skills such as time management, leadership and team-building skills,” she said.

• “Gain An Edge” is a weekly collaboration of the Lyford Cay Foundations, Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute and University of The Bahamas aimed at promoting a national dialogue on higher education. To share your thoughts, email gainanedge@tribunemedia.net.

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