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According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, over two million students began their first year of university in the academic year 2013/2014. Two million. This should mean one thing to students: competition.

A first class degree is no longer a sure route to a well paid and rewarding job, this means that students have go to try even harder to stand out from the crowd.

Extra-curricular activities  like the Duke of Edinburgh Award are great to put on your CV and UCAS application but to really succeed at a job interview it will be work you do outside of your degree which will be the most interesting to employers.

Madeleine Young studied classics at the University of Cambridge, but it was the success of her blog, Dinner With Maddie, and her Youtube channel that sparked interest in her interview for her dream job at Bartle Bogle Hegarty, an advertising agency.

She says: “In my interview for my current role as a strategic planner, I was asked about blogging and Youtube a fair amount because it’s closely related to the advertising industry.Self-starters appeal to employers, having a blog showed I could motivate myself

“Showing that you are a proactive person is important. A guy who got a job at my agency at the same time as me runs his own club nights, which you might think wouldn’t be hugely appealing to employers. But the fact that he produces all his own promotional materials and books all the acts shows a level of organisation and discipline that a lot of people don’t have.

“People who are self-starters appeal to employers. For me, having a blog showed I could motivate myself.”

Zachary Whyte, a law student at Nottingham Trent University, shares this view. He says his work experience and demonstration of interest in the field helped secure his placement role.

“I did two weeks of work experience with the legal services department at the police,” says Whyte. “They dealt with both civil and criminal law so it was a good insight into how certain pieces of legislation operated in practice. During university I also started taking part in legal arguments in a mock court room.

“In my interview for my placement I had a lot to talk about. I think the extracurricular activities demonstrated I was willing to go above and beyond what was expected of me in my degree.”

According to a spokesperson for the centre for employability at the University of Northampton, extracurricular activities are vital within today’s employability climate.

“Work experience also builds up contacts in the field and demonstrates to an employer a student is motivated, proactive and has gone above and beyond what is expected of them – all of which will reflect positively when applying for work,” they said.

So if you want to demonstrate a genuine interest in the field, then you are going to have to become an active part of it.

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