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How important is it to do extra-curricular activities at university?

Getting stuck into activities outside of your studies is great for both personal and practical reasons. There are plenty of opportunities at uni to find something that suits you.

Societies, the union, clubs or becoming a rep are all part and parcel of the university experience (and hopefully a fun way to take time out away from your studies), while work experience and internships can offer you a glimpse into the working world. All are good for personal development and enhancing your CV.

Societies and clubs

The key words here are moderation and motivation. Be picky – don’t sign up to anything and everything at Freshers’ Week (a time when many people pay a sub and then forget all about it).

The emphasis should be on ‘activities’. Far better to actively contribute to one or two clubs, societies or initiatives than be a passive member of them all. But don’t overdo it. Whatever you take up shouldn’t replace or sideline your degree.

What’s on offer?

Apart from sports and social possibilities, you name it, there’s a society for it. And if there isn’t, you can always set one up.

Head to our university and college profile pages for photos of societies in action and tips from current students about what’s on offer. There will also probably be opportunities to:

  • help out in the union
  • be a rep for your class or hall of residence
  • become a student ambassador for the university
  • get involved with the university or union’s radio station and student newspaper
  • volunteer in the local area.

You can ask about this when you’re at an open day – ask at the students’ union.

The ability to successfully juggle multiple commitments, is one of the key skills recruiters look for. We are interested in identifying individuals who can bring to life, with examples, their ability to build successful relationships, lead and manage projects and problem solve with creativity and commercial insight.

The experiences you can accumulate through involvement with societies, sporting clubs and volunteering activities will provide you with amazing material to showcase your potential in application forms and then later, during the selection process. It's also worth thinking about how you can stand out from the crowd by taking on additional responsibility within the activities you are involved in and equally importantly, showing commitment to your involvement over the longer haul.

Laura Yeates | Graduate Recruitment And Development Manager - Clifford Chance Llp

Work experience and internships

According to the Association of Graduate Recruiters, just over 30% of all placements or internship programmes lead to a graduate job. Getting some solid professional experience (ideally relevant to an industry you’d like to get into) will certainly be looked upon favourably by employers. It’ll also help you decide early on if a particular career is what you really want to do.

All graduate recruiters are looking for candidates who have work experience – this doesn’t all have to be relevant experience, but it will be very difficult to get a graduate role without having had a job in the past. Choose carefully what kind of experience you are looking for as this will help you fill your skills gaps. Work experience will also allow you to understand what you like and don’t like to do – so you can ‘try before you buy.

Donna Miller | Enterprise Rent-a-car - European Hr Director

Make use of your university’s careers office to capitalise on any connections your university has with local organisations, and speak to tutors on your course who may have links (or still work) in the industry.

Or, do it the old-fashioned way – get on the phone, or write a speculative application to companies you’d really like to do some work experience with. Internship schemes are an increasingly popular option (and most of them are paid, according to the latest graduate recruiter stats). If you manage to get an internship, try and make the most of the opportunity.

A part-time, term-time job, even one behind a bar or in a shop, can still equip you with transferable skills, if you can juggle one with your studies.

 

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