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How EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES in University Can Land You Your Dream Internship/ Graduate position!

Stepping outside of your comfort zone to make the most out of your university journey.

Hi! Let me guess… you are reading this with aspirations of landing that dream internship at that large reputable company. However, feelings of doubt are on your mind. Maybe, you feel that you do not have enough practical experience. Maybe, you feel that your degree is not enough to land you those opportunities. Maybe… you are at the beginning of your professional journey and just don’t know where to start...

Well I am here to say that... you are not alone.

I remember in my first year of university that I did not have an ounce of professional experience tied to my name… no work experience, no sense of direction, no idea where to start with my education or career. In High School, I was taught that my academic grade was a major determinant of my future success. Soon did I realise, my practical knowledge and skills fuelled by a passion for self-development was more valuable than any letter on top of a piece of paper. Now don’t get me wrong, university studies teaches several important concepts such as collaboration, management, organisation etc.etc. (You’ve probably heard all of this before as I have when university representatives were promoting their uni experiences.) However, the one place that I was able to practice these quintessential skills was through my involvement in extracurricular activities.

Whether it was the event management skills developed through my executive experience in the Vietnamese Students’ Association, the presentational skills learned in Case Competitions as part of university societies such as the UTS Consulting Club and Beta Alpha Psi, or the problem-solving skills honed in a Hackathon that I recently competed in, there are opportunities everywhere to upskill yourself and construct your STORY behind how you developed that skill. And when I say “YOUR STORY”, I mean what are, or will be, the moments within these extracurriculars that allow you to share why you decided to pursue that activity, what obstacles did you face and how were you able to overcome them. This documentation of your journey is very important. You can think of it as a series of novels on a bookshelf that you are slowly accumulating overtime to share with the right person. In this case, the right person is most likely going to be a recruitment officer of some major company. Aside from the qualifying skills that are needed to satisfy the minimum requirements of a job position, at the end of the day, you are applying to be a part of a company’s culture and its lifestyle. So, figuring out what you need to learn, what out-of-uni activities motivates you to get out of bed in the morning and how it becomes a part of your personal brand can improve your chances of connecting with or impressing a recruiter with your experiences beyond uni. But what are the caveats of going above and beyond institutional education? In reality, it is definitely not all sunshine and rainbows…

So, here’s all the pros and cons of extracurriculars from my own experiences that I am hoping you can take something away from.

1. CON: You will NOT like every person that you work with.

2. PRO: Collaborating with people that are vastly different than you IS A SKILL.

3. CON: You will constantly be busy.

4. PRO: You will learn how to organise your time and schedule with what is important to you. 5. CON: You will not like every extracurricular activity that you do. 6. PRO: You will discover what is not your passion which will help guide you to what you truly feel passionate about. 7. CON: You will lose sleep. 8. PRO: Your hard-work will pay off with the friends that you make or the skills that you’ve learned. 9. CON: You will make mistakes. 10. PRO: It is okay to make mistakes because extracurriculars are your training zone. Make mistakes and learn from them.

So by now, I have either sold you on getting involved in something beyond the textbook or I have completely justified your woes of going to that first extracurricular event. If the fear to take the first step is your worry, the only thing to fear is fear itself. However, trust me when I say this, once you take that first step, the next step is all the more easier to make. Finally, how can you start your extracurricular journey? Here are my tips on what I have personally done to expose myself to opportunities whether they may be at university, the community and the professional industry.

1. Everyone (well most of us) has Facebook. Log on to Facebook and search [your university] + clubs / societies. This will provide you a list of clubs & societies from your specific university. Next, like the pages of the societies that you have an interest in. What does this do? This helps the Facebook algorithm passively push events to your feed that you make be interested in while you are scrolling through memes during class. Unlike Tiktok that intelligently curates a feed based on your interactions with the app’s content, traditional social media, nowadays, are still lagging behind and require you to actively find content that you want to see. This also works with LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter etc.

2. Sign up for some newsletters from major companies that are related in your field. For example, companies like Google and Accenture hold Hackathons throughout the year and big four companies like Commonwealth Bank, Deloitte, PwC and EY host insider programs that allow you to take a deeper look at how the company works. By signing up to the newsletters from companies that are relevant to you, the company will notify you when major events are coming up for you to attend.

3. Do a case competition. It truly does not matter what background you come from. There is probably a consultancy role linked to it. More importantly, case competitions teach you the most important skill to have in any scenario: how to communicate your thoughts clearly and succinctly. You can find these opportunities usually hosted by major consultancy firms like McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group, Bain & Company and that is just the tip of the iceberg.

4. Take a leap of faith. Sometimes, the biggest thing that is holding us back is our own fears of the unknown. Confusion always doesn’t feel great. However, as long as you remember your inner mission to constantly improve yourself and your skills, you will. And, if you need a push, do these extracurriculars with a friend!

There you have it. Like I said, extracurriculars are more than just a paragraph on your resume. They are a part of your personal journey, your story, a place for you to learn, connect with new individuals and discover your passion. All you have to do now is get started...

Andrew Do

Engineering & Business Student

Let's F-ACE It Contributor

Mon 1st Feb 2021

We hope you enjoyed this blog post of ours, stay tuned for more coming your way in the new year!

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