When you’re at uni, much of the focus is on exams, assignments and essays — but have you ever thought about how you can expand your skills outside of the academic environment? There are many ways you can gain experience and learn new skills — some more obvious than others. We take a look at your options below.
The most obvious way to expand your skills outside of the classroom is through work experience. In fact, many courses require students to complete placements or internships. But even if you do have work experience included in your course, you can still broaden your skill set by exploring different areas — education students might gain experience with different age groups through babysitting or tutoring, for example. Beyond work placements, you may look to improve your skills through freelance work (for local businesses, clients or even family and friends) or volunteering. Even a casual retail or hospitality job can be incredibly beneficial — particularly when it comes to developing soft skills such as problem-solving, time management, teamwork, leadership, communication and the ability to work under pressure.
Your institution will offer plenty of opportunities to get involved in extracurricular activities on campus — through clubs and societies , the student union, student publications and student-run businesses. Joining a club or society allows you to meet like-minded people and explore a specific area of interest — whether it’s related to your course or something completely new.
Online tutorials and short courses
If you’re looking to develop your technical skills, or want a simple introduction to a new topic, there’s an endless number of online videos and tutorials out there. They cover all manner of subject areas and interests, from design software and computer programming to business skills and essay writing. Many institutions provide students with free membership to online learning libraries such as Lynda.com , which offers more than 4000 video courses. There’s also a wide variety of free courses on offer, including MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). Alternatively, some institutions offer short courses during semester breaks — both online and on campus.
If you’re really looking to take your studies further — and want to stand out from the crowd when it comes time to find work in your field — you might consider participating in a competition. Competitions include everything from quizzes, written pieces and project work to team-based activities and practical skill demonstrations. They can be found across most fields of study, run by corporate organisations and businesses, universities, academic societies, government departments, charities and industry bodies.