Why high school activities can be career training

Getting ahead in your high school activities is a lot like trying to get ahead in a company.  Yes, you've got to make your boss (president, coach, editor, etc.) happy.  But you can do other things, too, that will be noticed and appreciated.   

1.  Figure out how to make your customers happier.

If a business delights its customers, that business is going to grow.  And if you are an integral part of making customers happy, you're going to have a good career.

Does your club or organization exist to provide something for others–like a service, entertainment, or guidance?  If so,  you've got customers.  The school newspaper and the student government exist to serve students.  Dance teams and cheerleaders exist to entertain fans at sporting events.  Peer mediators exist to resolve conflicts between other students. If you're in any organization that has customers, what ideas do you have that would make customers happier?  What contributions could you make to help achieve that goal. 

2. Energize and inspire your co-workers.

Some people at work just know how to make everyone else around them better.  They usually lead by example and show other people what it looks like to cheerfully work hard in an effort to make things happen.  They never say, "That's not my job."  What could you do to inspire the people around you and lead by example?  What recognition or acknowledgment could you give to other people to let them know that you recognize and appreciate their efforts.  What could you do to help your fellow tennis teammates, or members of the Spanish Club, or musicians in the jazz band celebrate and enjoy their experience even more?  Start by being as engaged and enthusiastic as possible, and other people will follow.   

3. Develop a deep product knowledge.

A copywriter at an ad agency who knows how to write good copy will do a good job.  A copywriter at an ad agency who knows how to write great copy because she's studied how to do it, who's also researched the most successful ad campaigns and knows the copy by heart, who's read about the business of advertising and has learned why some companies succeed and others fail, who wants to sit in on the meetings with the entire team so she can learn more about account management, design and media planning, that copywriter is going places. 

What more could you learn about your "business?"  Whether you're on the tall flag team, the school yearbook staff, the Red Cross Club, the student government, the school newspaper, or the football team, I promise you there is more you could learn about what it takes to be successful. You don't necessarily have to learn everything, but the more you know, the more valuable you will be.

Don't wait until you have a career to learn how to get ahead.  Start getting ahead now.