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Extra-Curricular Activities for University Students: Good or Bad?

Nowadays, a lot of university students participate in various outside activities to increase and express their competitiveness in the job market. Thanks to outside activities, students can expand their social circles and gain invaluable experiences. At the same time, however, they sometimes come into conflict with the host organizations for several reasons. Therefore, the Sungkyun Times (SKT) will explain about the outside activities that university students participate in, the associated problems with outside activities, and the possible solutions that could alleviate the related issues.

About Outside Activities for University Students

The Status

Outside activities are extra-curricular activities that students participate in out of school. According to research conducted by Job Korea and Albamon in 2019, about 70% of the students have participated in outside activities. There are a lot of various outside activities that students can apply for. In 2019, University Tomorrow 20s Research Laboratory

Students Who Participate in Supporters (maeilnews.com)

announced that about 1,550 programs, including supporter programs, volunteer works, and mentoring, were hosted in 2018. In the past, students had to find the recruitment notices individually to apply to them. Today, however, as the demand of students who find the notices has increased, many community sites about outside activities have been launched. Students can gain a lot of information from community sites such as Specup, Linkareer, Campusmon, Campuz, and so on.

Motivations to Participate in Outside Activities

In terms of content, students expect to expand their interests and have an easier time finding a job through outside activities. According to research conducted by Job Korea and Albamon in 2019, more than half of the students answered that employment was their main motivation for participating in outside activities. Also, in the survey taken by University Tomorrow 20s

Applying for Outside Activities

Research Laboratory in 2019, about 70% of respondents said that outside activities are helpful in getting a job. In terms of environment, students can get along with people from diverse environments and get benefits from the host organizations. The survey by Job Korea and Albamon in 2019 said that meeting with good people was the second main reason to join outside activities. Moreover, some of the host organizations offer some money or other benefits like meeting with company directors, and reward certificates to support participants.

The Issues Associated with Outside Activities

Nontransparent Notice

Sometimes, different interpretations of the word expressions on the notices between applicants and the host organizations can cause some problems. In 2016, the Korea Water Resources Corporation which hosted K-water University Students Supporters announced that they would contain a Social Network Service (SNS) evaluation in the selection criteria. Generally, SNS includes not only Facebook and Instagram but also blogs and mini homepages. However, the organization limited the scope of SNS to only Facebook and Instagram without prior announcement. Because of their irresponsible attitude, many applicants who worked hard to maintain their blogs to receive a good evaluation were let down. Fake contents on the notice is another major issue. According to the employment portal Incruit, the majority of the respondents responded that they have been disappointed during outside activities because of unstructured activities and unwanted activities that were not written on the notice. In particular, students who participate in supporter programs are often forced to promote the organization on their SNS, instead of gaining meaningful experience by organizing and participating in events. Also, some corporations give a task of managing supporters to a public relations agency. In this case, many participants experience the inconsistency between their activities with the notices.

Reward Not Receivable

The host organizations generally offer some financial reward and other benefits, but sometimes they are not guaranteed. For instance, in 2014, the organization which hosted the Incheon Asian Games Youth Supporters promised the opportunity for outstanding participants to visit overseas, but failed to keep their promise due to a lack of funds. Furthermore, in many cases, the reward is simply not enough. Students who participated in the Samsung Card Young Lab Marketer had to produce videos to promote Samsung Card at their own expense, since the host organization did not support the expense for it. Some corporations even substitute activity expenses with points that can only be used at their affiliated stores. For example, CJ’s CGV, which hosted the CGV Marketing Panel TOC, offered 100,000 CJ ONE points and 20 free movie tickets per month instead of the money for participation. In this way, the corporation can lead the participants to buy their products using the points, but it is a complete restriction on their consumption.

The Solutions

Legal Guidelines on Outside Activities

Youth Portal, which provides information for supporting youth, suggested three solutions to solve the problems: informing the press of their problems openly, raising objections to the host organizations, and asking counsel to the government or civic groups. These solutions cannot become a practical solution without legal guidelines by the government. In 2016, the government had attempted to solve the problems by making guidelines targeted for interns. Unfortunately, however, students who participate in the outside activities are not the interns who are laborers protected by The Labor Standards Act. Therefore, they are not legally protected in this system. The United States, meanwhile, regulated that students must not carry out the tasks of regular staff and help corporations produce a profit. Thus, the Korean government should establish legal guidelines to protect students’ rights by giving legal obligations to the host organizations. In detail, the host organizations should provide specific notices to help students understand the purpose and contents of programs. Students should be guaranteed the right to reject the activity that is not written on the notice and be properly rewarded for their efforts.

Nowadays, many university students apply for outside activities. The point that we should keep in mind is that activity without purpose could be a waste of time. SKT hopes that Kingos choose appropriate programs that best consider their aptitude and interest and therefore gain invaluable experience.

김성은  tjddms0118@naver.com

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