Join a university society and boost your job prospects
By Joel Tennant,
Once upon a time, having a degree made you stand out from the crowd, but now the graduates are in the crowd and everyone is fighting for space. Whether you come out of university with top grades or just the average, employers are going to want more than good exam results and a well-typed CV. That’s where societies can play a part.
Networking is one of the most important things you can ever do both in and out of education. After all, you could lock yourself away in your room and still get a degree, but without contacts out in the big wide world, certificates often struggle to impress on face value. Being a member of a society at university makes communication with those that can lend a helping hand far more accessible. Getting involved with conferences and events held by your society means you have the opportunity to talk to experts in the fields you are interested in and, if you manage to stay in contact with them, they may be your saviour when you start looking for jobs.
A supportive community is essential when it comes to honing your skills. Whether you are a member of the Wind Surfing Society, the Linguistics Society or the Extreme Frisbee Society, developing your social, academic and physical skills will dramatically energise your chances of employment. It’s not all about personal development, (after all, you joined the society to have fun!) but if an employer has to choose between two applicants, and only one of them has been a member of a society, the decision may start to become a lot easier.
The immortalised words of any covering letter for a job application, “I work well both within a team and independently” can wear thin. After a hundred repetitions in different fonts and sizes, the reader’s eyes will glaze over, so taking that extra step and joining the committee for your society will say it for you. Whether you are the President or just in charge of the social media accounts, being involved in the inner-workings of a community proves you have what it takes to share both the responsibility and the rewards. “Joining societies is an excellent option for students looking to expand their horizons beyond their degree course,” says James Darley, Director of Graduate Recruitment at Teach First, last year voted 4th in the Times Top 100 for graduate employment. “You don’t have to wait until your first post-university job to gain useful skills like team-working, for example.”
Whatever it is that you are passionate about, find other people that feel the same way. University is great for building on the things you love and they want to help you do just that. The University of Warwick’s Students' Union, for example, teamed up with Teach First and created a society for undergraduates to visit schools in challenging circumstances and deliver sessions on overcoming barriers to Higher Education. When it comes to helping you stand out from the crowd, the worlds of Graduate Employment and University are on your side.