[ The Money Side of Lifeā„¢ ]

Join The Club: Five organizations that look good on your resume

By Katrina Lorengel on August 1st, 2009 •

Looking to bulk up your résumé, but aren’t sure where to start? Join a club or organization to develop leadership and career skills while meeting new people. There are groups for just about any interest, with various participation requirements, so you’re bound to find something that fits your skills and schedule. Here are five national organizations to consider joining.

Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA)

The FBLA is the largest career-oriented student business organization in the world. It helps build leadership and communication skills while teaching you about business.

FBLA is broken into different sections based on age groups:

  • FBLA-Middle Level: Middle school students
  • FBLA: High school students
  • Phi Beta Lambda (PBL): College students
  • Professional Division: Graduates and business people

Activities include community service projects, job shadowing and leadership conferences. Members are eligible for scholarships, and can participate in skill competitions ranging from public speaking
to business and finance.

To join, ask a school counselor about the program, and expect to pay around $15 in membership dues every year. Check out fbla-pbl.org for more details.

Future Farmers of America (FFA)

FFA is an agricultural education organization. Activities include agricultural experience programs, lab work, and leadership conferences designed to prepare students for future careers.

Students ages 12–21 may join. Keep in mind that more than 73% of members are from rural non-farm, urban and suburban areas, so living in a farming community isn’t a requirement.

To join FFA, you must be enrolled in an ag science course at school. For more information about FFA, contact your counselor or ag science teacher, or visit FFA.org.

Youth Service America (YSA)

YSA is an international, nonprofit resource group that partners with organizations from around the world to get people ages 5 – 25 involved in volunteering. It creates advocacy campaigns and provides information and training to interested individuals. Ysa.org has resources to help develop and fund service projects, and information on programs like Semester of Service.

YSA also organizes Global Youth Service Day–-an annual event held in more than 100 countries. It’s the largest service event in the world, with millions of people working to address issues such as poverty, global warming, education and illiteracy. Get all the details at gysd.org.


There are currently 6 million members in the 4-H community. 4-H--which stands for Head, Heart, Hands and Health-–requires students to complete projects focused around healthy living, citizenship, science, engineering and technology.

Activities range from community service programs to designing and building robots.

4-H members can compete with these projects at the local, state, regional and national levels. They are also encouraged to attend events and conferences.

In order to be a full member, you must be 9 – 19 years old (there is a separate collegiate-level 4-H community). Benefits of becoming a member include opportunities to serve your community, development of leadership skills, and eligibility for college scholarships and exchange programs.

Check out 4-h.org for featured stories and upcoming events.


SustainUS is an organization that promotes sustainable development. Members showcase these values by completing sustainable development projects and educating others.

Members range in age from 13 to 26. There are three levels of membership: Associate Members, Steering Committee Members and Voting Members. The Steering Committee takes a leadership role and handles everyday matters. Bigger decisions are handled by Voting Members.

Although you register as an individual, local email lists allow members to share information and find out about local events. On the national level, members communicate through these email lists as well as conference calls. Go to sustainus.org for more info.

These five organizations promote leadership, community service and personal growth. Some offer collegiate memberships, allowing you to continue participation. So what are you waiting for? Get involved with your school and community today.

The Bottom Line

The average American watches more than 151 hours of television every month. Joining local organizations is fun, rewarding, looks good on your résumé and college applications, and gets you doing something instead of watching from the sidelines. Join the millions of other students who are taking advantage of these groups.


fbla-pbl.org; ffa.org; gysd.org; ysa.org; sustainus.org; turner.com; finance.yahoo.com; msu.edu; semesterofservice.org; 4-h.org