What do Nicholas Cage, Tiddlywinks and Tunnock's Caramel Wafers have in common?
You guessed it - they all have societies dedicated to them at universities across the country. Whether you're interested in mediocre actors, mediocre games or mediocre chocolate bars, the range of societies on offer at uni nowadays means there's no excuse not to get involved.
As well as fulfilling your weird and wonderful interests, the skills and experience you gain from being a part of a society are often really helpful once you leave university, apply for jobs and start your career. Here's just a few examples of the benefits you gain from joining a society and why you should point them out to employers; once you realise their value it'll be hard to say no when the Extreme Ironing Society approach you at Fresher's Fair looking for new sign ups.
1. You'll find like-minded people
Joining a society is one of best, and easiest, ways to make friends at university. You'll find people with similar interests to you who you can meet up with regularly and by making more connections, you'll find that more opportunities to network will arise. Plus, academic societies often host events where you can attend talks with experts in the industry or meet with employers; these occasions are really useful for getting your name out there and gaining career advice.
2. You'll learn the value of teamwork
Working with others in a society offers the chance for you to learn teamwork. Particularly in sports teams or if you're on a committee, you'll have to work alongside a range of people - all with their own opinion and way of doing things - and learn to negotiate, compromise and make decisions that are beneficial to everyone. In the working world, teamwork skills are required in a range of jobs, from Events, to Managerial roles, to Sales. Being able to provide evidence of when you've worked with others will set you apart from candidates who simply write 'great teamwork skills' on their CV.
3. Societies offer you the chance to learn new skills
Where else will you be given the chance to learn to ballroom dance, play Quidditch or be taught Tai Chi, all in the same place (and often for free)? Granted, you probably won't need to whip out your best Foxtrot in a job interview, but you'll learn so much more than just the skill itself along the way.
Trying something new, practising and pushing to improve teaches you the importance of perseverance. When you come to start work, this determination will mean you push yourself further, overcome obstacles and ultimately become an employee that your company values. If you choose to apply for graduate schemes in particular, a willingness to tackle challenges head on is a trait employers look for.
Not to mention that learning a new skill also improves concentration, makes your brain sharper, reduces boredom and increases happiness.
4. You'll learn how to maintain a good work-life balance
If you're a member of a society (particularly a sports team, where your evenings and weekends are taken up with matches and training), you'll need to learn how to balance academic work with society commitments. Taking much deserved breaks from the library is important for your personal wellbeing, but you don't want to get so caught up in being part of a society that it hinders your uni work. Finding that balance between work and life will take time and trial and error, but once you figured it out, it's a skill that'll benefit you long after university ends.
5. Being part of a society makes writing your CV that bit easier
From teamwork and communication, to commitment and maintaining a good work-life balance, you'll gain a range of soft skills from being in a society that'll boost your CV. If you lack work experience, your involvement in a relevant society will demonstrate to employers that you're passionate about the industry or role you're applying for. Some companies, particularly in Recruitment, even seek candidates who're members of sports societies; a competitive spirit works well in a result-driven environment.
Besides providing you with lots of skills to talk about, having a hobby or passion outside of academics to add to your CV gives away a little more about your personality to employers. In an interview, hobbies can provide a talking point and help you stand out from other candidates - no employer's going to forget an interview with someone who plays Robot Football in their spare time.
6. A society might even shape your future career
Societies can open up a lot of doors, help you establish what you're passionate about and potentially inspire your career. Particularly if you're uncertain about your degree choice, or aren't sure what jobs will interest you, joining a society might help you find your true calling. Maybe you'll be inspired to become a journalist after working on the student newspaper, or discover that you have a hidden talent for Belly Dancing - if you don't try, you'll never know.
Whether you're a student looking for work experience and internships or a recent graduate on the hunt for a permanent role, check out our website for loads of opportunities.