One point about extracurriculars to always keep in mind: even unconventional and seemingly inane activities can lead to professional opportunities down the road. In other words, the fun stuff you do in college can actually serve as a great way of cutting your teeth professionally.
Take the Harvard Lampoon, a humor magazine I wrote for when I was an undergrad at Harvard. In the tradition of past Lampoon writing staffs, we produced just five issues per year and spent the rest of our time sitting around, not doing homework, re-watching episodes of The Simpsons, and prank calling Harvard’s more serious organizations. Occasionally we scribbled down some short jokes, most of which involved bathroom humor.
At first glance, most would agree that calling the Lampoon an “extracurricular” is stretching it.
Most would think: Doesn’t a college-level extracurricular involve a bit more serious work than this? Isn’t the lifestyle of a Lampoon writer—eating pizza, watching TV, passionately joking around with like-minded people, occasionally writing bathroom jokes—far too frivolous and unprofessional to be considered worthwhile? To a certain extent, yes, absolutely. But, it’s important to keep in mind something else: Lampoon writers have created or written for some of the most popular American television shows. The list includes: The Simpsons, Saturday Night Live, NewsRadio, Friends, Seinfeld, Futurama, 30 Rock, The Office, and Parks & Recreation. And, don’t forget about this guy.
Did all of those prank calls and all of those Simpsons episodes in college teach Lampoon writers about joke structure? Of course, it’s impossible to know for sure. But, the example of the Lampoon does suggest an important idea: taking part in an extracurricular that you are truly passionate about—even one that may seem frivolous—can still lead to professional success.