City Year Leadership Tips

Your hands begin to sweat as you reach the dreaded question on your college or job application: Describe your leadership experience.

Often, we are our hardest critiques. It can be easy to think that you're too young to have "good" leadership experience. Low man on the totem pole isn't a leader, right?


We believe you have more experience than you're giving yourself credit for. "Leader" doesn't need to be part of your job title for you to be one. There are leadership opportunities and moments within every role. Click to tweet.

Take, for example, these common clubs and positions listed on resumes:

Band member

Imagine hearing "Stars and Stripes Forever" without the piccolos and trombones. It wouldn't be the same without the unique sounds that each instrument brings to the songs. Leaders within a marching or jazz band are just as unique as the instruments and parts they play. Perhaps you taught another band mate how to read sheet music, or coached him on how to improve his marching for the half-time show. Those are the types of leadership qualities that employers want to hear about in your application.

Student athlete

Every player on the team is a leader in their own way. Have you ever stayed late after practice to help a teammate improve her jump shot? Or encouraged someone to keep his chin up after a really tough play? Those are moments when your leadership qualities shine through. A true leader knows how to encourage and motivate those around them.


Even if it's watching a younger sibling, as a babysitter you're continually practicing leadership and problem-solving skills. When the parents are away, you assume responsibility for those children under your care. Do you let them stay up late to finish watching a movie? Or do you tuck them into bed when the time rolls around? You make decisions based on what's best for the child, rather than what the child thinks is best.

The roles listed above are just the tip of the iceberg. Tutor, camp counselor, volunteer, robotics club member, captain of the debate team, writer for your student newspaper—there are leadership experiences in each role.

In fact, these are exactly the types of young leaders we want to serve with City Year! So go ahead, check the box for leadership on your City Year application.

Related Articles:

3 Tips to Strengthen Your Application

Top 3 Soft Skills Employers Want You to Have

How to Shine as a City Year Applicant

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