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Which Extra-Curricular Activities Will Help You Get a Grad Job? | Student September Guest Post By Maddie

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Happy Wednesday, friends!
I hope you've had a good start to your week.
Photo Credit: Andrijana Bozic

As of last Saturday, I have now been able to secure you guys TWO stationary discounts for Student September, and I am so thrilled about it. As students, we need to take advantage of every discount we can get, so if you'd like to get a discount for a gorgeous personalised notebook then click here, and if you'd like a discount for an extremely useful Gratitude & Productivity journal then click this link. 

Now, without further ado, here's Maddie's post which is all about how you can boost your career prospects during uni...


Using your time wisely at school or university is so important in many ways. From ensuring that you spend your time with people that suit your energy, to keeping up with deadlines and always doing the best that you can with your academic work. It’s also really important to use your time to find and enjoy your interests and hobbies. This can have so many benefits, from generally enhanced wellbeing to finding something you’d like to do as your full-time career.

During my time at school and university, I made the most of everything I could and I’ve now found, as a graduate, that it really helped me out by doing that. When you might not have direct experience to a job you’re applying for, having extracurricular activities to refer back to can really help you out if you get stuck. For me, I started a business while at university, created a new society, and got stuck into a few part-time jobs and I want to share with you why those were the best things I did at university.

Photo Credit: Andrijana Bozic

During your time in education, there are lots of extracurricular activities that you can get involved with. Sometimes these opportunities are easy to find and you should make the most of having those accessible chances to get involved, such as joining a society at university as those don’t often have any restrictions or ability level. On the other hand, there are other opportunities that might seem harder to obtain, such as internships or paying jobs, but those can be more valuable to your CV and give you a bit of spare cash too.

I found it quite easy to balance my university work alongside these extracurricular activities but you need to make sure you’re not putting your work on the line by doing so. To ensure I had enough time to do my work, socialise and take part in other activities, I made sure to plan my week in advance and work out what time I could give to volunteering, my business and joining in with clubs and societies. It’s really up to you how much time you dedicate to things but be sure to plan it out so you don’t become overworked. 

Below are some great ways you can get involved with extracurricular activities before leaving full-time education:

Photo Credit: Isiah Rustad

Clubs and societies

At both school and university, there are lots of opportunities to join social groups. These can range from sports clubs to academic societies and are all a great way to boost your prospects as well as meet new friends. You can find these through the Students’ Union at University or through local community centers.

During my time at university, I was on two committees and launched my own society. Not only was this a great opportunity to meet new people and fill my spare time, but it’s given me skills and knowledge to talk about in my interviews as a graduate. Starting a society to do with encouraging entrepreneurial thinking has also ignited my passion for business and helping others to build their ideas up, which has allowed me to have clearer career aims now that I’ve left university. 

These are a really good way to enhance your career prospects too as they offer good things to write about on your CV. Whether you’ve led a sports team or society, or have been behind the planning and organisation of it, they’re great skills to talk about to a future employer.

Volunteering

Volunteering is another great thing to get involved with when you have spare time at school or university. There are so many different things you can do to volunteer your time, from helping out at your local charity shop to working at a school, the opportunities are endless.

While at university, I volunteered my time at Oxfam. By offering a few hours a week, it gave me something else to add into my routine while not in lectures and also provided me with another talking point on my CV. 

It’s a brilliant thing to have on your CV and you can learn a lot about yourself too. Volunteering and trying new things through unpaid work to help others provides a great way to discover your career interests as you can volunteer your skills to companies and learn more about an industry before committing to a full-time role or qualification. 

Offering your time for volunteering allows you to develop different skills to paid work too, as you’re often faced with different situations to a typical part time job. For example, my time spent volunteering at Oxfam taught me a lot about communicating with different people and better understanding their needs. This has now allowed me to feel more confident when I’m trying to communicate with a range of people at once as I now do in my full time job.

Photo Credit: Austin Distel

Insight programs

Similarly, many companies offer insight days or work experience so that you can learn more about their company, day to day work, and their industry more broadly. These programs typically offer one day learning about what an organisation offers, how their company operates, and shed light on the industry. It’s a great way to network and could even lead to a paid position or internship. 

A great way to find out whether this is an option is to network. Set up a profile on LinkedIn and engage with professionals in that field; make yourself known and interact with people in your desired industry. This is not only a great way to learn more about the responsibilities and various roles in that field, but it can open doors to new opportunities.

You could also find a company that you really like and head over to their careers page to see if they offer any work experience placements to students or if there is a contact address where you could speculatively send your CV.

Part time jobs

Another brilliant way to boost your skillset, CV and career prospects is by getting yourself a part time job. Even if you’re pushed for time, offering a company even say 6 hours of your time a week can help you in so many ways; from working in a bar to being a receptionist, having previous employment on your CV and job applications can give you a leg up in the working world.

The job doesn’t have to be directly related to your future role, as transferable skills are a really positive trait. You can talk about your communication, organisation, customer service skills and more in an interview.

A lot of people often come away from university wondering how they can get a job from their degree, and it’s always transferable skills that will help you in this situation. Even if you aren’t wanting to get a job in the field that you’ve become qualified in, any previous experience from past employment or volunteering can help you to get your foot in the door. For example, if you had a job in a cafe while at university and you were constantly talking with people and ensuring smooth service, your transferable skill here would be ‘verbal communication’ which is essential in many future roles.

Photo credit: Nur Hamzah

So there you have a few ways that you can use your spare time throughout school and university to gain skills and better understand what you might want from a career. I’ve done all of the above and feel that it’s really provided me with that competitive edge when applying for and securing graduate roles.

Thanks so much for reading. I wish you all the best with your student and graduate journey!

About the author


I’m Maddie, a 22-year-old Criminology graduate, living in London and working in public relations. I’m also a blogger, talking about the realities of being a graduate and a twenty-something in today’s world. 


You can find my careers, self-care and finance advice over at www.mindthegapgraduates.co.uk or on instagram at @mindthegapgraduates


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