How Joining A Society Can Improve Your Employability

A few years ago when you were asked what you were going to do after high school, you most likely said ‘go to university’. Congrats! You’ve made it! Now prepare to be confronted with questions about what your plans are after university. Your reply will probably be ‘get a job’. With the job market still as stagnated as ever and with uni’s churring out hundreds of thousands of graduates each year, the prospect of standing out is quite scary. But there are many things you can do during your time at university to make your graduate job hunt a lot easier.

Joining a society is one of the best starting points.

Yes, you would have been told that being involved with a society is great for the social side of uni life. You will make some great friends and have some fantastic nights out. But it can also help you land a job after uni.

In your UCAS application you’ll remember how important extracurricular activities were to gaining a uni place and they’re just as important with landing a work placement. However, merely stating that you ‘play football’ isn’t enough. The reason why you’re asked to mention your extracurricular activities is to show employers qualities that cannot be put across in your academic qualifications. Playing in a sports team will show off your teamwork, drive and leadership skills, all of which can be transferred into work place situations.

If sports isn’t your thing then don’t fret. There are societies for absolutely any hobby or interest that you can think of and there will be one that is just right for you.

How you can join:

You can be involved in more than one society, try not to get involved in too many because they will start to take up your time. The majority of students will sign up to societies during Freshers Fairs, there will sometimes be a small joining fee but these are relatively inexpensive. Each society will have their own stall and you can ask the already existing members what activities the society get’s involved in, when they meet, etc.

Think about joining societies which relate back to your course. For example if you’re a Banking and Finance student you may wish to join the Investment society to improve your commercial awareness. Likewise, if you’re a Politics student then you could join the Debate Team. There will definitely be a society that reflects your course, if you have trouble finding one for you then you can always ask your tutor for a bit of advice. However don’t feel that you have to join a society that is directly related to your course. The Student Newspaper will always be looking for students to can write some great content for them to publish.

Positions of responsibility:

While just being involved in a society in your first year is a great start, when you progress through your academic career your should start to think of moving up the ranks. Various positions of responsibility such as Secretary and Treasurer will be up for grabs as students graduate each year, you could even dream big and become the president. It all looks great on your CV!

All societies will be active in raising funds to enable them to function, societies are proper organisations that need managing. Imagine having a position in a society that has over a £10,000 budget, and you’re responsible for running events and distributing the funds to help the student body.

This is all practical experience that employers look for. It will give you a wealth of skills that you will not be able to gain from your course alone. Societies all have different committee structures so there will be a variety of roles for you to choose from. It does sound like a lot of time will be needed when you’re given a title other than ‘member’ but you will have more free time than you think. So it won’t be too much of a handful. If you’re thinking of going for a role in in your second and third years then don’t be scared to ask for advice from previous member’s who’ve taken on these positions before.

Starting your own society:

You may find that while your wandering through the Freshers Fair that there isn’t a society that you’re interested in joining. Thats okay, you can just create your own. While establishing your own society isn’t the most easiest things to do, you have to know who to contact and what the right motions are, it can be done. You just need to spot a gap.

You need an idea thats fresh, unique and fulfils a purpose. You can’t just decide to start a new netball society if one already exists. You’ll have to think of an appropriate name, why it needs to be established, what events the society would run and how it would benefit the student body. You’re proposal will be reviewed by the Student Union, who may already have rules about what kind of societies can be developed, they might require societies that are purely academic. So consider your idea carefully.

Your Student Union won’t even let you think of starting a society in which you’re the only member, you’ll have to market your plan and get other students on board. Recruit some of your mates, mention it to people you meet on nights out, start a Facebook group. You may need around 20-30 members to be considered, so get a list of names, student numbers and signatures for you to submit to the SU as proof.

Once your society is made you’ll have to ensure that your members come to meetings so you can organise your constitution, events, etc. It will be hard getting your society off the ground but it will be worth it. Seeing brand new freshers the next academic year, crowding round your stall the Freshers Fair will be pretty satisfying. Remember the more members you have, the bigger the budget the SU will afford you.

Starting your own society will really stand out to employers as it shows initiative and dedication. The management skills that running your own society will give you is immeasurable and you’ll take them with you far beyond university.

Getting involved with the SU:

Getting involved in your Student Union is one of the most challenging yet best thing you can do to maximise your employability at uni. Most uni’s have a student body of around 20,000, yours might be even more! A few select people will be responsible for representing the student body and will be there to ensure that every student has the best uni experience as possible. The SU puts on events, entertainment and essentially organises the biggest nights out. They have to cater for all tastes and niches.

If you work your way up through a society you can look towards getting elected for various roles within the SU, you will have to actually run a whole campaign to be elected. These roles are paid and you’ll more than likely have to take a sabbatical (year out) from your studies, to ensue that you have the time to do the job as best as you can. You will have to work with societies, the university board and the NUS. You will arguably learn more practical experience doing one of these jobs than in your entire degree. This is amazing experience if you’re looking to get into a career in management when you graduate, or even politics!

Feature image belongs to Niamh<> via Flickr