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March 1, 2019, by Katy Johnson

Extracurricular Activities Aren’t Just For University – 5 Ways To Get Involved at Work

By Hayley Gillmore, Students’ Union Employability Development Manager

During our time at University it’s pretty hard not to get involved in some kind of extra or co-curricular activity; volunteering, sports, part-time work, picking up a new hobby – the opportunities are endless.  

But for the majority of us, when we start work we focus less on our hobbies and interests.  

But should we? Are there potential benefits associated with continuing our passion for sports, spending free time with our colleagues and trying something new? 

In most workplaces, there are opportunities to expand your skill set and spend time with colleagues you wouldn’t normally work with. Even sharing lunch with colleagues can increase your productivity. It gives you the opportunity to talk to people you wouldn’t normally.  

UoN graduate experience 

Laura, a recent graduate from Nottingham explained that in her place of work each week a different colleague cooks and brings in lunch for the rest of the team. This gives them the opportunity to try new foods, spend time together and ultimately increases their ability to work together effectively as a team.  

It doesn’t just have social benefits though. Are there opportunities to volunteer for a new task group or help out a colleague on a project? By volunteering to be involved in things outside of your normal remit, you can demonstrate your commitment to the organisation and also hone some new skills which you can use in your existing role. Transferable skills like project management, creative problem-solving and learning new software can easily be gained through stepping outside your comfort zone and volunteering to take part in new activities within the organisation.  

Informal opportunities

If there aren’t formalised opportunities in your place of work then even small things can make a big difference, could you hot desk with a different department? Take a coffee break with a new employee? Set up your own staff football team? Taking the time to get to know your colleagues means you’ll have a better understanding of potential areas for collaboration, recognise the valuable skill sets you have within your organisation and most importantly get to know the people you spend time with.

With this in mind here are our 5 top tips…

  1. Make an effort to get to know new colleagues; they’ll bring with them a wealth of new skills, knowledge, and contacts 
  2. Volunteer to work on new projects; this is a great opportunity to learn new skills and meet new people  
  3. Take time for lunch breaks; informal opportunities to get to know your colleagues and take a break from your desk can pay dividends in terms of productivity  
  4. Engage in mentoring or buddy schemes; most large workplaces have these so make the most of the opportunity to learn from more experienced colleagues and build your network of contacts  
  5. Join or start staff social activities; after work running clubs, lunchtime reading groups, ‘knit and natter’ in the local pub, whatever your interest there’s bound to be people who share your passion 

We support you during your time at university and after you graduate. If you would like to see more information on the support we can offer after graduation, visit our alumni website.  You can also book onto an appointment with one of our careers advisers through MyCareer.

Posted in Careers Advice