Great extracurricular activities to boost your career prospects
There's a lot of competition on the graduate job scene, but indulging in some extracurricular activities in your field will help you stand out from the crowd!
Aside from putting together a kick-ass covering letter, employers also want to see proof on your CV that you're genuinely passionate about your field.
And the best way to demonstrate this? By mentioning extracurricular activities that you've been involved in to make your chosen field your life before you've even graduated!
And, no, unfortunately 'extracurricular activities' doesn't include industry-related chats with your mates down the pub, sorry!
One of the main things that employers look for is experience – proof that you know what the job is about and are curious to find out more.
Lacking in inspiration over what activities to get involved with? Never fear, we've come up with a whole load of dandy suggestions for y'all.
Choose your career field from the list below…
Join sports clubs and societies
Perhaps the most obvious thing you can do to help kick-start a sports-related career early on is by getting yourself down to a uni sports fair and sign up, sign up, sign up!
Employers will take it as a given you've joined some sports teams (this stuff is your life after all, right?) and the more you join, the better.
Many sports teams will also give you the chance to get involved with coaching if this is something you're really into, or you can run for a committee position and get extra brownie points.
Volunteer at your old high school
If you want to work in sports – as a PE teacher, a personal trainer, or even a sports physiotherapist, for example – have a chat with whoever runs the PE department at your high school.
Your old school is more likely to let you get involved than anyone – believe it or not schools want their alumni to succeed, so they should be happy to help you out!
Find out if they need any help supervising any after school PE clubs, as this is a perfect opportunity for you to get some experience working with young people in a coaching environment.
If you were a track star at school, be sure to mention that as it's likely to help the process to move along swiftly!
Credit: Scott Symonds – Flickr
Volunteer at schools
If working with young people is your goal – for example, if you're considering getting into social work or moving on to do teacher training after you finish your undergraduate degree – gaining some experience working with children is essential.
Head to your local school (primary or secondary, depending on which is more appropriate for the age you want to work with) and ask whether you can help out at after school clubs, offer a few hours of your time supervising an event, or even hanging around as a class assistant.
Work for charities and summer clubs
If there's nothing available in local schools, some charities and community centres run clubs for children – especially during summer. Get in touch with your local community centres, or check local community Facebook groups to see what's going on.
It might also be worth considering spending a summer at a US summer camp for a few weeks if this is something you're really into. To get you started, we've got a comparison guide to help you find the right summer camp for you.
Volunteer with animal charities
If you hope to work with animals in your future career – as a vet, working in zoos or even for an animal charity like the RSPCA, the best thing is to offer your services as a volunteer at any local cat and dog homes or something similar.
Most charities manage volunteers branch by branch, so the best way to get more information is to get in touch with the charity directly.
Details of animal charities local to you can be found online, and you can search by postcode, meaning you'll be notified of all those positions available in your area.
Work on a local farm
Another extra-curricular for those wanting to work with animals is volunteering at a farm, if you have any within easy reaching distance from your home!
Farm work can vary widely depending on the sort of farm it is, but as you probably guessed, it tends to involve getting your hands dirty!
This is a particularly good option for anyone who loves horses as these tend to be a good earner for farmers. If you have a good rapport with horses you could even end up making some money on the side helping with horse riding classes.
Credit: Esther Vargas – Flickr.com
Write for your university paper
Whether your ambition is to become a published author, the next editor of Cosmo or a freelance copywriter, the most important thing is to practice perfecting your writing skills and get your words out there to the world gets to read them!
Most universities will have their own newspaper or magazine, and this is a great place to start. Hunt down the contact details of your student editor, get in touch and start submitting your ideas to them.
If you show you're keen and are able to come up with good ideas, they're likely to give you some of their time.
Start blogging and creating online content
There are a whole wealth of opportunities to get involved in writing content online that will look great on your CV – it's just a matter of seeking them out.
Using Twitter to find opportunities is a great move, and it's also the perfect way to start building your professional profile (which helps in landing a job once you graduate).
Joining writing communities on LinkedIn is also a great shout, as businesses often post there when they're on the hunt for contributors. Check out our full guide to using LinkedIn like a pro here.
Volunteer at arts programmes
Volunteer for every arts programme your school or uni offers – dance, music, drama, everything you can spare the time for, really!
Whether it’s a backstage role, organisational role, or just helping out in whatever way you can so as to be involved – experience is experience and the more projects you’ve worked on, the better it will look.
Opportunities in the arts tend to be posted up on noticeboards around uni, as well as online so keep your eyes peeled! If you can't see anything crop up, get in touch with your student union directly and they'll be able to point you in the right direction.
Get invovled in community arts
Community arts is a great way to get involved in, and since arts budgets are normally pretty minimal, there's always room for an extra pair of helping hands!
Take a walk down to your local community centre and enquire about the different arts programmes they're running and ask how you can get involved.
The opportunities are normally pretty diverse and being part of it can be really rewarding (particularly when they help you bag that arts job you're gunning for after graduation!).
Get invovled in student politics
It's safe to say that opportunities in governance aren't exactly a-plenty. If this is where you see your future, you need to start getting involved and getting noticed, asap.
Join as many university debates, communities and societies as you can that reflect your political views, and this should get the ball rolling.
If you reckon you've got what it takes to become the next PM, you need to show that you consider politics not just as a job, but as your life – it certainly will be if you take up employment in it, anyway!
Get involved in student elections and political groups as well – basically, get your voice heard and show that you care.
If you're a loyal member of a particular political party (that's a mouthful!), why not volunteer to help out with campaigning near election periods?
Credit: JD Lasica – Flickr
Work part-time in care and nursing homes
Getting the grades to study a degree in medicine is notoriously difficult in itself, but what about gaining some experience that will make your CV shine even brighter?
Working or volunteering part time in a care home is a great way to build experience working with sick and vulnerable people, which is something you'll need to work out if you can cope with before entering into healthcare.
A simple online search will pull up thousands of care home opportunites for you to apply for. There are also a lot of charities that organise sessions for young people to take part in befriending – where you'll keep an elderly person company for a few hours per week.
This is also great experience as it demonstrates compassion, which is essential for a job in healthcare.
Volunteer for St John Ambulance
As well as having a network of university societies, St John Ambulance also have branches in the local community too.
By volunteering with St John Ambulance, you'll be given proper first aid training and can also get involved in helping staff out at events. Putting into the community in this way will certainly pay off for you in the future!
Now get on it!
Now you're armed with a few ideas of how to get the ball rolling with gaining some experience extracurricularly, it's time to start asking around and see what opportunities are out there.
We can't stress enough how important it is to get involved in experiences to supplement your education – not only will it look great on your CV, but it'll also help you decide which career route is right for you.