There are numerous reasons why one may consider improving their leadership qualities, whether it be for college applications, job applications, internships, or simply because of personal reasons.
Some may scramble through their past experiences to find some way to show leadership while others already have a list planned out. While activities such as club president and sports captain certainly count as leadership, simply participating can also show leadership qualities. No matter where you may be, you will be an expert at highlighting leadership qualities by the end of this article.
Where to find leadership opportunities
First, let’s talk about where you can find leadership opportunities. Here is a list of just a few examples:
School opportunities include anything from student council to club president to sports captain. If you are a club president or a sports captain, your responsibilities are already laid out for you. If you are on the student council, however, you have some leeway as to what you can do with your position.
One of the most impressive things you can do is create a new school tradition (or what seems like it’d become a tradition). Let me explain.
One of my best memories in high school is Mini-Thon. Students stay standing and dance for 12 hours straight to support kids with cancer. This tradition was started by a student in my school a little more than 50 years ago. Still today, the tradition goes on and other schools have joined over the years.
In the present, it is nearly impossible to know if an event will be repeated in later years. If your goal is to start a tradition, then start as early as possible. If you are not in your senior year already, you can repeat the event next year.
Creating a new tradition shows initiation, commitment, and responsibility. Even if you do not create an original event, you can still collaborate with other schools or the same event.
Here is a list of pre-existing events you may consider starting in your school:
Minithon (support children with cancer)
Walk for Clean Water (donations help build water wells in Africa)
If you are not in the student council, don’t worry! There are still ways to make your leadership experience stand out from others who are applying, which we will talk more in-depth about in the next section.
Do you have a unique interest? Consider creating your own club! Some common yet unique clubs around the U.S.A. includes:
Sign Language Club
to name just a few.
Maybe you are not interested in creating a club in school. If you are looking for other options, consider creating your own business. There are tons of sites such as Etsy (sell homemade goods), Fiverr (do gigs to earn money), and Youtube that allow you to use your interest to earn money right from home.
Even if your project is a failure, simply starting it shows initiative and courage. Don’t be discouraged; use the opportunity to learn something new and try again. Even if it does not get anywhere yet, starting a business is impressive nonetheless.
Generally, quality matters more than quantity.
Someone who volunteers at one or two places but commits to their work is regarded higher than those who participate in multiple activities without any commitment.
Internships usually require an extensive amount of time and work to complete. With a busy schedule, an internship can be a challenge but certainly pays off well in the end.
Picking the right kind of opportunity is also a factor. If possible, invest your time where you will be given a leadership role. If you have been volunteering somewhere for an extensive amount of time, you are more likely to be given a leadership role.
Here are a few examples of places to volunteer:
Food banks or soup kitchens
Hospitals or nursing homes
To integrate these activities to show leadership, simply explain the ways you showed leadership qualities during the activity. More on this in the next section.
No matter what job you have, it can show leadership qualities. You may think that unless you are in a management position, it does not count as “leadership,” but leadership is more than just the title of the job. If you handle money, then the supervisor trusts you with the money. If you have to interact with customers, then you also have to find ways to solve problems. Anything that shows leadership characteristics (communication, responsibility, adaptability, and initiative, to name a few) can be used to your advantage to show leadership, as we will see in the next section.
Even if you do not have explicit leadership roles such as a club president or a sports captain, you can still show leadership qualities by just participating. One of the most important qualities of a leader is to lead, as the name implies. You can do this without a formal role.
Many times, while filling out applications for college or internships, you will have opportunities to demonstrate leadership qualities in other sections of your application. If it is a college application, you could write an essay about a time you were a leader (note: make sure you answer the prompt in the best way possible and not just write about an event to show leadership). For internships, you can list volunteer opportunities and describe aspects of how you were a leader.
How to Use Them to Your Advantage
So now you have a list of leadership activities to put down. Now comes the hard part: how do you describe them? First of all, put down your responsibilities and what you did. To take it one step further, write a short description of how you changed something.
In college applications, colleges are looking for someone who will be an asset to the campus. To stand out, you have to go above and beyond what others normally do. Take it one step further. What makes you different from all the others who were in the same position as you? This is similar to many internships. They want someone who will go above and beyond expectations, so show them how you did this before.
To give perspectives, here is an example. Say you were in charge of a food drive in your school. Instead of only collecting food from students, you could also ask around your town and do special events, such as hosting a concert that requires canned goods to enter. Being creative with how your goals are achieved allows you to stand out from others.
Leadership can truly be found in anything. Use and describe leadership in a way to enhance your character!
Not sure where to start? Check out leadership opportunities listed on our website here!