New transcripts recognize on-campus volunteering

University of Calgary students are getting a leg up in Canada’s competitive job market. Co-curricular transcripts– which will include on-campus volunteering– will start a pilot run this January.

Students will sign up for these extra transcripts on PeopleSoft and a formal one will be printed for graduation day. The transcripts, a long-time project of Students’ Union vice-president academic Pamela Weatherbee, will help students looking for jobs and applying for grad school.

The pilot run will warn the SU and the Office of Student Experience of any clubs or activities on campus that have been forgotten. The transcripts will officially begin next fall.

“We have a team put together that represents a lot of different groups on campus,” said Weatherbee. “We’re going to work with a number of clubs before we actually do the pilot in January and we’re going to talk to them and see if there’s an easy way to give students credit when they really deserve it.”

She wants to avoid rewarding students who buy club memberships, but are not involved in activities. Organizing an event or a specific number of volunteer hours might be necessary before the membership is recognized.

“Sometimes, depending on what the volunteering is, it can be as important as any job,” said career services advisor Sue Kersey. “If it’s in a related industry that you’re actually wanting to do your degree in, it’s even better because you can build networks, because you can ask for advice and information in how to help yourself.”

Kersey added many students find job leads while volunteering.

The project is funded by Quality Money, $1.4 million that the university gives to the SU each year for these kinds of ventures. Last October, Weatherbee asked for $250,000 to get the co-curricular transcripts off the ground. She hopes the university will consider paying for the project after the three-year trial period is over. She would also like to expand from on-campus volunteering.

“It’s just the off-campus issue, can students be recognized for volunteering at the Alberta Childrens’ Hospital for example,” asked Weatherbee. “That’s something that we’d like to do in the future– work out partnerships with community organizations so students can get recognized for that.”

Kersey recommended that students mention the transcript on their resume, but only provide it if asked. The resume should still be the primary source.

“If you’re doing a portfolio, then absolutely that should be in there and it should be as important as the [academic] transcript,” she said.

Kersey noted it was possible that the new transcripts will encourage students to volunteer more. The collection of volunteering possibilities on campus will also act as a database for students looking for a place to get involved.

“It was around the same time last year that I was filling out med school applications,” said Weatherbee. “It’s such a proccess to list everything you’ve ever done in your post-secondary career. Having it centralized and all recorded for you sets you apart from other students that are graduating.”