The concept of work-life balance applies to university as much as to the world of work.
Going to university is a life-changing experience. It’s also an intense period of growth. Some are unblinkingly aiming for that 1st, while others are seeking a taste of freedom. Whatever you’re after, every student needs to switch off and have fun occasionally. Attending a university society or joining a sports team can be the major thing that motivates a student to get through their essays and exams.
Don’t underestimate what can be gained through these sorts of extra-curricular activities. Increasingly, employers are looking for soft skills and experience as much as a degree. Through a social activity such as being a team captain or a society president, you can grow examples for the CV that you might not have realised you were nurturing.
Consider whether you might have inadvertently learned these six skills while taking part in societies at university.
Teamwork is a no-brainer. An employer wants to know that you can work effectively with other people, communicate your ideas and meet a group goal. Any member of a committee can say with certainty that they have ticked this box. They will have attended meetings, shared their thoughts and gained a sense of shared responsibility.
You know that one guy in the team who didn’t pull his weight and was always late to meetings? Explain how you dealt with that difficult team-member and learnt to compromise. This is a crucial workplace skill. An employer will want to hear about it.
Networking is one of those popular buzzwords. What it really means is that you can form relationships with others and build those relationships into further projects or career prospects.
It isn’t as simple as it sounds and requires practice. Committee members can reference the relationships they formed with fellow students and staff during their tenure, and how this led to collaboration further down the line.
Not everyone is comfortable socialising with strangers and committee members are often the ones to go out of their way to include everyone in a conversation or activity. If you ever practised striking up conversations with the strangers in a group then you gained networking experience.
Event organising can be one of the most stressful parts of running a society. If you have ever had to plan a large event, you know that it is an intricately choreographed dance to make sure that everyone is where they should be, when they should be, doing what they should be.
An event can be anything from a simple weekly bar social to a complicated trip abroad. As a committee member, you almost certainly organised some form of activity for your group.
Through this, you will have proved you possess a series of useful skills: organisation, negotiation and thinking on your feet.
Admin and emails
You would be surprised how many graduates leave university without knowledge of proper email etiquette.
A lot of societies will have a mailbox or send regular emails about their activities. If you ran your society’s inbox or were the one who always had to fill in the paperwork, you will have gained useful workplace skills. It may have seemed mundane and repetitive at the time. Remember to get the credit for it now!
To you, social media will seem completely commonplace but an employer will be looking to make sure you are capable of using it effectively.
Nearly everyone uses social media in their private lives. It’s another thing for a prospective employee to say they use social media for a group or cause. If you ever advertised a society event over social media, or used it as a platform to gain members, then make sure it is on your CV.
As society president or team captain, you will have been the figurehead of your group. Often, you will have been the one to make the final decision and take ultimate responsibility if anything goes wrong. The one to delegate tasks but also the one to motivate the team into action! This kind of knowledge of leadership can only be gained through real experiences and an employer will respect the commitment.
University is challenging. The journey can be quite intense and many of the friendships forged while achieving your degree remain strong long after graduation. Equally, the lessons you learn are learned for life.
Getting involved in a society proves you can think for yourself. It might feel like a struggle juggling academic deadlines, social obligations and perhaps a part-time job, but it is definitely worth it. It might even raise you above the competition and win you that graduate job you are seeking.