Careers blog: The importance of co-curricular activities

23 April 2018

When applying for jobs, your academic qualifications are very important and recruiters will expect you to achieve a high standard of academic achievement. However, this is just part of the picture; your co-curricular activities, which could include society involvement, volunteering, internships and part-time work, are also very important when trying to impress recruiters. McKinsey, for example, places as much importance on the co-curricular activities section of your CV as on the education or work experience sections.

If you took part in co-curricular activities during your previous studies that’s a great start. However, many recruiters will want to see that you are involved in co-curricular activities during your Masters degree too. This doesn’t have to be something directly related to the kind of job you want to apply for, and there is a huge range of things you can get involved in at Warwick.

The kind of activities recruiters look for

Recruiters focus on the skills that your co-curricular activities have enabled you to develop and use, rather than just the activity itself, so you can choose to take part in anything you are interested in. Playing on a sports team, taking an active role in a student society that interests you or acting as your course representative can all demonstrate teamwork, leadership, communication and time management – all key skills that recruiters look for.

Recruiters also want to see that you have a range of interests, a life outside of your studies and the ‘capacity for passion’. The co-curricular activities that you choose to take part in can help the recruiter to understand what drives you and what your interests are.

How you can get involved

Warwick University has over 250 student societies that you can join, and you can even set up your own society too.  Throughout the year there will be lots of opportunities to compete in business games sponsored by recruiters, take part in voluntary work, become a class representative, compete in case study challenges, do some part-time work or take some extra skills training. You will need to balance this alongside the demands of your Master’s degree and prioritise your studies, but involvement in a small number of carefully selected co-curricular activities can be what makes you stand out from the competition when you start applying for jobs.

How to choose which co-curricular activities to do

There are so many activities to choose from it can be difficult to know where to start. To use your time as effectively as possible it is a good idea to select activities that interest you and will help you build the skills you need. 

A useful exercise is to look at some job descriptions for the kinds of jobs or graduate schemes you are interested in and make a note of the skills the recruiters say they want applicants to have. This could include technical skills like knowledge of a particular computer program, or ‘soft’ skills like teamwork, communication or leadership skills. Think about whether you have these skills and how much evidence you could give to show you have them. If there are any skills you need to improve on, focus on activities that will give you plenty of opportunity to develop those skills further. 

Find out more about our dedicated Finance and Business and Management careers support on our Postgraduate Careers pages.