How To Gain Valuable Experience At University

Attending University is a great opportunity to make friends, learn and build your CV.

Depending on the course that you decide to take you may have a significant chunk of spare time at your disposal whilst you’re studying at University.

Most full-time degree courses require you to spend between 35-40 hours each week studying, similar to the time that you would have to dedicate to a full-time job. This time will be made up of lectures, ‘contact hours’ (time spent 1-on-1 with your personal tutor) and personal study time. As much as it’s fun to make new friends and go out when you’re a student, your studies should always be your top priority whilst you’re at University.

Taking this into account, you’ll have 5 evenings and 2 full days on the weekend to make use of for extra-curricular activities. It’s a good idea to use this time wisely and consider that how you spend your time outside of study hours will reflect on your CV come the end of your degree.

With this in mind I’ve put together a few ideas of where to pick up some valuable experience so that you can leave university with more than just your degree certificate:

Run for a position in a club or society

Every university has a bevy of societies and clubs that you can join which gives you the opportunity to try out a new experience, or continue a skill or hobby that you already have. Clubs range from Amateur Dramatics to Chess, to Medieval Re-enactment to Skydiving; regardless of the society that you join you’ll be able to apply to take an administrative role within the society. Whether you’re the Social Secretary, Treasurer or President this kind of experience shows would-be employers that you’re keen to take on responsibility and that you’re a social person.

Get a job for the summer

Your university days will be the last years of your life when you get a full Summer holiday – don’t take that for granted! The 12-14 weeks that you have at your disposal each summer should be used wisely, it’s the perfect time to pick up a job and earn some much needed cash.

Customer service jobs are usually the easiest to pick up for this stretch of a time and if you do a good job then you’ll be able to return throughout the years.

Pick up casual work in term-time

There are always a few odd jobs going during term-time that can add value to your CV in the long run. Often your university’s career hub will regularly post part-time jobs which can vary from taking part in a psychological study to helping out showing prospective students around your campus.

Keep an eye out on regular job sites using the ‘Part Time’ filter to see if there are any other opportunities – you could find useful experience marketing to college students or working in a call centre.

Volunteer in your spare time

Dedicating a portion of your time to a good cause is a great way of meeting like-minded individuals and also adds another dimension to your CV. Depending on the charity that you choose to help out you could be driving subscriptions on the street, knocking on doors to raise awareness or even working ‘out in the field’. Always make sure that the charity that you’re helping is legitimate and be wary of working for private firms that focus on ‘making sales’.


Jackie Li is an architect and writer who focuses on offering advice to prospective and current students. She’s passionate about her work and loves to help graduates find work post-uni.

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