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Four ways to boost your skills outside of your degree

Book open Reading time: 5 mins

Hello, my name is Haroon and currently I am in my 2nd year studying History at University of Warwick. I’ve really enjoyed my time at University, and this has primarily been down to taking advantage of any and all opportunities that have come my way. Not only have these extra-curricular activities helped me to meet some amazing people but they’ve also stacked my CV up. During my time at Warwick, I’ve realised that academic success is very important but equally that extra-curricular activities develop you as an individual and set you and your application apart from other applicants. Here’s just a couple of opportunities that have really allowed me to develop who I am as a person and also my career:

Bright Network Campus Champion

One of the most exciting opportunities I have had this year is the Bright Network Campus Champion scheme. In this role, I am the first point of contact for Bright Network at University of Warwick and their ambassador on campus. This position entails promoting Bright Network at my university through the organisation of events and running my own Facebook Group. In this role I have definitely enhanced my networking skills and been able to form strong professional and personal relations beyond just the role itself. This has come naturally to me just from involving myself in a variety of different events on and off-campus. Organising such events on-campus has also increased my confidence in planning and promoting medium-scale events. 

So far, this role has been extremely fun and allowed me to network with many different individuals. As the role has progressed, so has my relationship with Bright Network. Beyond this, I have worked at the Birmingham: LIVE event, co-organised a networking event along with HistSoc and Punjabi Soc and promoted Bright Network at the WARMUN Conference. Through constant communication with key members in other societies and organisations, creating strong networking relationships and a carefully outlined plan from the start, I was able to develop strong cross-team collaboration skills. 

Student Ambassador 

Currently I am in 3rd term as a Student Ambassador for the History department. This role primarily involves the smooth running of open days and other events the department hosts throughout the year. Through this position I have continued to develop my communication skills by interacting with potential students, their parents and also the teaching staff in the department. One of the most exciting aspects of this role involves a Q&A Presentation with prospective students and their parents. At first this seemed a bit daunting but eventually it has become something I look forward to the most. Practicing in front of the mirror, giving short speeches to my friends and involvement with more presentations has made me more confident with public speaking. 

These skills are essential in potentially any field that you choose to pursue. The ability to converse with people of different backgrounds, age ranges and cultures is important in forming positive working relations. Whilst Q&A presentations are important in increasing confidence and key in presenting to potential buyers, directors, managers or anyone else in a potential career. 

WARMUN Conference Marketing

My 1st term of 2nd year involved me marketing the annual WARMUN Conference internally and externally. This was an extremely exciting opportunity as I was able to lead a team of designers; delegating tasks among them, setting deadlines and promoting the conference heavily on social media. We agreed on a marketing campaign that was quirkier and slightly less professional than the usual MUN Conferences are. The idea behind this was to interest a broader amount of people to our conference; individuals that had never done MUN before or people that wanted to make new friends. Along with stalls at events, flyering and postering, we also created a different and funny advert for our social media – one which I starred in. 

This experience was hugely beneficial for my personal growth. Not only did I get involved in something I hadn’t ever done before – MUN Conferences – but I gained valuable marketing, teambuilding and leadership skills. All of these are important for self-growth and attracting potential recruiters. Pretty obviously the skills I learnt from this role would be directly suited to a career in marketing, yet they are all transferable skills which could be applied to a variety of careers. The ability to think outside the box whilst completely transforming a marketing campaign is a key asset in any career when providing solutions to problems. Beyond this, the fact that I had a target to reach in the number of applicants we were planning on attracting provides extra motivation and suggests that I am someone that is suited to a target driven role. Potential recruiters like these attributes as it shows potential for adaptability and comfortable in reaching targets. 

Societies

Throughout my time at Warwick I have heavily been involved with RAG. In my first year I was a fresher representative as I got to know the society and the people within the society better. The following year I became a challenge leader for the Machu Picchu trek. In this role, I have to lead a medium-sized team in their fundraising for the trek. Continuing on from this role, I eventually became the welfare officer. As welfare officer, I have to manage the welfare of all society members, making sure that Warwick RAG remains an open and welcoming society for all. 

In my first year, I also regularly attended BFT Productions workshops where I learnt how to script-write. BFT Productions is a film-making society at Warwick that allows its members to produce brilliant scripts and short-films. In my 2nd year I successfully ran to become treasurer of the society, managing its finances. In this position I have not only gained script writing and film-editing skills but also key money management skills. There needs to be greater emphasis on getting involved in a variety of different societies, projects and gaining a well-rounded skill set. All of this suggests adaptability and comfort in potentially difficult situations or problems.

Over the past year and a half, I have also regularly attended salsa sessions with the Warwick salsa society. This has been a fun past time for me, trying something new and different that I have never done before. Besides gaining the confident to do something which I have never thought about before, I have also made some great friends from this society and it has been a grateful break from all the other activities. 

Despite hobbies not relating to traditional hard career skills, they do make you a more interesting person to converse with. Attempting something new – such as salsa dancing for me – can be a great way into starting or continuing conversation and networking. Furthermore, these hobbies set you apart from other candidates – who also most likely have the academic and extra-curricular activities you have – and showcase your personality. They can be a great way to present your personality on a CV or cover letter, creating an image of you as a whole person and not simply an academic genius.