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!
And the best way to demonstrate this? By mentioning extracurricular activities you've been involved in that prove your chosen field has been a big part of your life during the application process.
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 great suggestions for you!
Choose your career field from the list below
Animals and nature
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 - one of the best things you can do is offer your services as a volunteer at a local animal shelter.
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 which can be found by a quick Google for 'animal charities near me'.
Work on a local farm
Volunteering or working at a farm isn't just useful if you want to work with animals - it can also be an excellent addition to your CV if you're interested in any kind of outdoorsy career.
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!
City dwellers will obviously have fewer options to choose from, but it's worth Googling to see if there's an urban farm in your area. Failing that, there may well be a stables nearby - unlike farms, these are a little more common in towns and cities.
Volunteer with the National Trust
Volunteering with the National Trust is kind of a win-win situation. Not only do you get to work in some of the country's most beautiful locations, but you can also boost your CV and prove that you love working in the outdoors.
Oh, and as a volunteer you'll also get free entry to National Trust properties - so really it's a win-win-win situation.
Head over to the National Trust website to see if there are any opportunities in your local area (spoiler: there probably are - there are National Trust properties all over the place!).
Governance and politics
Get involved in student politics
It's safe to say that opportunities in governance aren't exactly aplenty. 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 to 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 - because that's exactly what it'll be if you become a politician!
Get involved in student elections and political groups as well - basically, get your voice heard and show that you care.
Start campaigning locally
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?
Medicine and healthcare
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 be ok with before entering into healthcare.
A simple online search will pull up thousands of care home opportunities for you to apply for. There are also lots 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).
Working in a care home also 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!
Volunteer at school arts programmes
Volunteer for every arts programme your school or uni offers - dance, music, drama... anything 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'll 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 involved 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.
Sports coaching and personal training
Join sports clubs and societies
Perhaps the most obvious thing you can do to help kick-start a sports-related career is by getting yourself down to a uni sports fair and sign up.
Employers will take it as a given that you've joined some sports teams (this stuff is your life after all, right?), and the more you join, the better.
If you're keen to get into coaching, plenty of sports teams and societies will be able to offer this opportunity. Or, for even more brownie points, you could run for a committee position.
Volunteer at your old 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 old school. 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 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!
Just note that you may need to complete a DBS check first to prove you're a suitable person to be working with children.
Working with young people
Volunteer at schools
If working with young people is your goal (maybe 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.
Again, however, you'll likely need to complete a DBS check before being allowed to work with children.
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.
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 getting your words out there so 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.
One of our editors, Jess, was the editor-in-chief of her university's student paper not long before she joined Save the Student. Here's what she has to say about getting involved in student journalism:
Getting involved with the student newspaper is the best decision I ever made at uni!
If you're after a career in journalism or the media it will give you invaluable training, as you'll get to source, pitch, write and edit stories.
I got to interview famous politicians and celebrities, report live on major political events and produce my own front page splashes.
In my final year I was elected to be the newspaper's editor-in-chief which was a year-long full-time paid position, and it's opened so many doors for me since graduating.
Jessica Murray, a Save the Student editor
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.
Oh, and as a little bonus, you can make money as a blogger too!
Now get on it!
Now you're armed with a few ideas of how to get the ball rolling, 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.
Plus, the beauty of so many of these suggestions is that they aren't just useful for one specific career.
Taking part in any kind of extracurricular activity shows that you've got an excellent work ethic, and depending what you choose to do, could highlight some of your other qualities, such as compassion or communication skills. All in all, there doesn't seem to be a downside to it!