It’s not just superheroes who…

Volunteering, being a local hero, or simply getting involved with extracurricular projects is not only often a great way to support causes you believe in or help your community, it also looks great on a CV and can give you valuable skills you won’t easily find anywhere else.

1. Extracurricular activity

What is it?

Extracurricular activities, while being voluntary, are not necessarily volunteering, which can be defined as activities that benefit a community or specific groups in need. Extracurricular activities can be anything you do outside of study – sport, clubs, student newspapers, for example.

How do I do it?

Join a sports team, the theatre, a musical group, get involved with a local church, write for or run a student newspaper, become a peer mentor.

Anything looks good, but what employers or university admissions like to see is consistency, so choose things you like or that you feel are relevant to your career progression and stick with them.

Why should I do it?

For the qualities that putting in extra effort outside of class shows. Juggling extracurricular activities is not always easy, as they often require dedication, passion and perseverance.

Employers will think you’ll bring the same level of dedication to your work. It also shows that you have been thinking about your career for a long time.

You can help develop skills such as leadership, organisation, time management, relationship building and communication.

2. Voluntary work

What is it?

Volunteering can occur across a wide range of organisations, but mainly with charities, churches, government-backed groups and community projects.

How do I do it?

Approach local or national organisations and offer to help. Large charities may offer something like an internship at their head office, or more local opportunities – for example, volunteering in charity shops.

You will find many opportunities to volunteer locally, often smaller, specific charities will need people to help conduct their day-to-day operations. Churches are often busy in the community so they’re good to look into.

Why should I do it?

The roles are varied and you can often gain unique experiences, which provide situations in which to develop valuable skills such as self-motivation, entrepreneurialism, communication and leadership.

Employers will see that you’re open-minded, self-motivated and enthusiastic.

You can get involved with projects you might not find elsewhere and make them your own. You can also make a difference in people’s lives.

You may be able to get work specific to your career goals, for example, helping with bookkeeping and fundraising.

3. Part-time work

What is it?

Often the paid work you need to support study, or to give you that bit of extra spending money at the weekend. But don’t be fooled – part-time work can actually help define your CV.

How do I do it?

Look for paid work locally, often in shops, supermarkets, call centres or bars, but it really depends on where you live and what’s available. You can do anything. Especially good is work that supports your career, so ask in local accountancy firms or in company finance departments.

A person holding a paint roller and looking at a mural with other painters in the background

Why should I do it?

A paid job, with responsibilities to an employer, provides grounding and a sense of self-respect and can teach the value of several things: money, business, time (yours and others) and teamwork, among other things.

Your part-time job, whether you realise it or not, is providing you with all-important transferable skills – in other words, skills that are valuable across all professions. For example, a job in a shop means you’re working in sales and have gained experience in selling products to people, seeing what’s popular and trying to promote what isn’t, which means you’ve gained some commercial acumen, a skill that every company views as desirable, if not essential.

Or if you worked in a call centre, you’ve likely developed listening and communication skills, maybe even negotiation – all vitally important for finance professionals.

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