Applications / Warwick

Make yourself employable – play sport!

It’s hard to believe that a year has passed since the Olympics.  The Anniversary Games were a great reminder of a fantastic summer and a wonderful winning streak. The Orbit and Olympic StadiumI think most of us enjoyed watching the games and cheering on the competitors, and the feel good factor was undeniably infectious but talk has now turned to the legacy of 2012.  It’s a helpful reminder that sport transcends barriers and can bring real, tangible benefits to individuals and communities. And you don’t need to be an Olympian to reap the rewards….

Developing yourself and your skills

At some point during your university and working life, you will have to face the dreaded competency questions, many of which focus on core competencies like communication, teamwork, leadership and initiative. Sport can provide a rich seam of examples and evidence, and can be a great way to communicate your skills to potential employers.

Anecdotal feedback from graduate recruiters affirms this impression. During our Summer Fair, one of my colleagues talked to the representative from Aldi (which runs a highly competitive, and very prestigious graduate scheme) and he mentioned the benefits gained from playing in the same rugby team for seven years. He was quick to add that as a recruiter he now actively looks for evidence of sporting participation. And that’s participation, not prowess. You don’t need to be a winner for it to count.

He’s clearly not the only one. New research conducted by sports economists at Sheffield Hallam university, has shown that graduates who participate in sport at university earn (on average)  £5,824 more than their non-sporting counterparts.  That’s surely worth breaking into a sweat for! Take a look at this:

Making the connection

How do you make the connection between the skills developed through sport and the job you’re applying for? Well, try this for starters: playing sport competitively develops your skills in persistence, managing pressure, goal setting, risk taking and developing resilience (particularly if you’ve been on the wrong end of a 10-0 defeat!) .  If you like to fly solo, then you may prefer individual sports and given the success of athletes at the 2012 Olympics there’s clearly much to admire about the determined individualist. But, there are advantages to playing team sports. Team work can be one of the skills that students often struggle to evidence on application forms, so it doesn’t matter if  you’re more of an enthusiastic amateur than seasoned pro, it really is the taking part that counts. You can reflect on your role within a sports team and think about the particular skills and attributes you’ve acquired. Use these to good effect during applications and interviews.

As with other extra curricular activities, playing sport can sharpen your time management. Juggling practice and fixtures with your academic studies, is good evidence of your ability to manage yourself and get organised, which translates really well to the professional workplace.

The winner doesn’t take all

If you’re not involved in a competitive sport or you’re more focussed on taking part than winning, there’s still much to exploit in terms of ’employability’. Recruiters will be interested to hear about your passion for – and commitment to – a new interest, as it shows a willingness to get stuck in and have a go. Remember, employers are looking for motivated and enthusiastic colleagues who don’t shy away from a challenge and have the confidence to try new things.

The chance to meet new people –  from all walks of life –  is a fantastic by-product of sporting involvement. And if you’re not a particularly assured or accomplished networker (and many of us aren’t), then it’s a good way to develop your skills in a safe and positive environment. Networking is just about connecting with people, finding common ground and making contact so just like playing a match. Networking is essential to your graduate job search so the hockey pitch or basketball court can be a great training ground for your future success. No pun intended.

How can I get involved at Warwick?

The University of Warwick has an excellent sports centre and  a wide range of team and individual sports clubs. There are facilities here you won’t find on every campus such as The Bear Rock (one of the best indoor climbing walls in the Midlands) and a swimming pool.

Check out the Warwick Sport  to find out what’s available. There’s plenty to choose from and it’s never too late to get stuck in, so if you’re a (soon-to-be) final year student why not give yourself a break from the academic stresses by joining a new club or team.  Warwick sports clubs are pretty active and have a wide reach, so you may even get the chance to travel, fund raise or help organise the Sports Ball.

So come on: get active, get involved and get employed!

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