For many people, university life has two sides. There’s the time you spend on your studies, which can be fascinating but is often a bit of a hard slog. This side is primarily geared towards getting a degree which will hopefully lead to a job or further study. Then there’s the time you spend socialising, which can be a lot of fun but is, ultimately, frivolous.
What many students don’t realise is that there’s a very special environment at university, unique in the sense that some of the most apparently playful things you can do may actually be the things which help you impress at future interviews. We’re always looking for bright graduates at atom42, and we take time looking at what other activities applicants have been involved in, in addition to studying for their degree.
I’m not saying that getting a good degree isn’t important, it is. But imagine you’re the person who has to plough through 100 job applications, and they all come from graduates with a good degree in a relevant subject. How do you separate them? It might surprise you that those extracurricular activities you list on your CV can actually be the deciding factor in whether or not you’re invited for an interview for your dream job. Here are four great ways to use your time at uni to set your application apart from the stack.
1. Write for your university paper
Find out what kind of newspaper or magazine your university produces. There will probably be a meeting during fresher’s week, at which point you can visit the news room and find out how to contribute. Don’t be intimidated if there’s a big crowd, lots of people love the idea of writing for their uni paper but never get around to following through. Be the one that does and you’ll show your future employer that you have the passion and tenacity to carry out work of your own accord.
2. Get ahead with social media
If you often find yourself drifting off during other activities and flicking through Facebook instead, you could put that habit to good use. Businesses these days, if they have any aspirations for growth, are investing in their social media assets. The problem many business owners face is that there isn’t the resource within their business to make their Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram channels successful. These things just weren’t taught, or even heard of, when they were studying. Cut your teeth by using social media to increase visitors to your university theatre, or to increase awareness on campus for your favourite hangout. Be the graduate who can walk in with some social media ideas and successes under your belt and your future employer will sigh a big sigh of relief – someone who can sort that stuff out for them!
3. Run a university club
The ability to manage people is highly prized within businesses, and with good reason. If you can work your way up within a university club, this is a great way to find out how to manage your peers. Perhaps you’ll need to organise an event, or encourage a group to take part in a particular activity. Whatever you find yourself involved in, you can bet the tricky management situations you come across are being replicated in businesses across the country, and the management skills you acquire in the process of overcoming them will become invaluable when you enter the workplace.
4. Create a small business on campus
When you attempt to start your own business, be it a campus coffee cart, a T-shirt company or a tutoring service, you’ll be bound to learn huge amounts as you go along. If it’s a roaring success, you may never need to apply for a job, as you can just continue to build your business! If, however, you do choose to apply to work for someone else after uni, there’s a strong likelihood that your future boss will have come up against similar challenges to the ones you’ve faced with your small business on campus. Show how you dealt with those challenges and you’ll be valued for your insight into their business world.