Considering a career change?
Work Experience (Video)
Extracurricular Activities (Video)
Making The Most Of Holidays (Video)
15 September 2015 |
It is easy to get involved in non-academic extra-curricular activities, at least on a casual basis at a non-competitive level. For instance, I was never good enough to get into the official university football team, but this did not stop me setting up a 5-a-side team! Try to demonstrate that you have a range of interests and the motivation and initiative to pursue them.
Do you play for the university netball team? Do you play in (or manage) a casual 5-a-side team? Do you enjoy horse riding? Have you run a marathon or climbed a mountain? Do you enjoy diving, skiing or playing table tennis? Have you pursued these interests through joining a club? Attending regular training sessions or regularly involving yourself in a particular sport could demonstrate your ability to commit, your determination, your ability to motivate yourself and others and your time management abilities. If you have done something particularly interesting and unique, mention it! I mentioned that I had gone cage diving with great white sharks, which again provided an interesting talking point during interviews.
Do you like to perform on stage or on film? Have you taken part in university theatre productions or dance competitions? This could demonstrate that you have developed the confidence, presentation skills and team working abilities required to succeed in a client-led industry.
Do you play an instrument? Do you play in a rock band or the university big band? Do you like to sing at open "mic" nights? Do you paint, make videos or engage in graphic design? If so, this could demonstrate that you have the creativity sought after by top City firms (which are regularly required by clients to provide innovative solutions to unique problems). If you are doing these activities with others, this could also enable you to demonstrate team work.
Have you studied abroad or travelled to interesting places? Have you completed a ski season or been on a university trip abroad? Have you participated in "Jailbreak" (this is a charity initiative run by societies at many universities which involves trying to get as far away from your university campus in 36 hours without spending any money)? If so, remember to explain why/how this has made you more suitable for the role. Such experiences could evidence your ability to adapt to different cultures, organise yourself effectively and remain positive; your desire to work in an international setting; and that you are an interesting, open-minded candidate.
Have you raised money for charity, helped at an orphanage, been involved in school or university charitable initiatives or volunteered at music festivals? This could demonstrate your desire to work for a firm that offers volunteering opportunities (for instance, pro bono legal work), whilst also showing that you are an ethical person. It can also provide interesting anecdotes for interviews. For instance, I volunteered for the Glastonbury Festival "Recycling Crew" for many years, which effectively involved taking a position as an unpaid bin man. However, it was great fun, I met a broad range of people and I accumulated some great experiences to draw from when answering application and interview questions.
If you talk a lot about volunteering in your application/interview, demonstrate that your statements are genuine by getting involved if given the chance during an internship. I got involved in various charitable initiatives during internships and this helped to demonstrate that the statements I had previously made were genuine.
A note of caution: avoid suggesting that your decision to apply to a particular City organisation was based primarily upon the volunteering opportunities on offer to its employees. Volunteering opportunities are nice "add-ons" that can help to enhance your working experience and do not provide part of the core business of City professional services firms. City employers want to know that you are keen to help them make money and/or improve performance. After all, these firms are businesses, not charities (no matter how much they may focus on their altruistic side during presentations)!