Many university club events are just about having fun. Deciding whether to take part is pretty simple.
Business school clubs provide a breadth and depth of professional activities such as speaker events, competitions, career treks, conferences and leadership positions. This can make it more difficult to decide what to get involved in.
How do I make the most out of these opportunities? What will I learn? What are the networking opportunities? How do I avoid missing out whilst not spreading myself too thin? What should I put on my CV?
My advice – as the Senior Student Activities Manager at LBS - would be to treat them as part of your professional development and take a structured approach:
Step 1 – Frame
Think about your long-term career aims, what gaps are there between where you are now and where you want to be? How could extra-curricular activity help?
Link this to the advice from Career Services and Organisational Behaviour Courses.
As an example, these slides are from a presentation by Professor Margaret Ormiston on how to use club leadership as a personal development opportunity:
Step 2 – Explore and develop
There are a huge amount of club events – you will regularly have to choose between different activities. Actively assess their relevance to you and what you’re trying to achieve, don’t just follow the crowd.
Ask yourself – How will the activity help me develop relevant skills, expertise, networks? How do they help me find out more about areas that interest me?
Establish one or two tangible outcomes that you would aim to get out of each event e.g. a new contact or an alumni’s perspective on a business you’re considering joining.
Student leadership roles can also provide a relatively safe environment to practise particular skills or try out new ways of leading.
Step 3 – Demonstrate
Club activity isn’t going to help your CV!
Once you’re in business school, your club involvement is unlikely to make much difference to your CV.
To illustrate this, a few years ago we analysed CV submissions to consultancy firms to see if different content changed the likelihood of being invited to interviews. We found there was no statistically significant benefit to putting student leadership roles on CVs.
Instead, think about how you could talk about your different activities in interviews.
Think about what your club involvement says about your willingness to contribute to the community you’re in, how it shows passion for your area of business, how you have been able to use contacts that will be valuable in your future role.
Specific experiences may also help complement your business experience. For example, club leaders often have plenty of examples of how they’ve been able to motivate others or resolve conflicts. They can also provide ‘safe’ examples of failure and learning.
Step 4 – Reflect
Periodically, take time to reflect: What have you learnt? Do you need to reassess your involvement? Are you now able to focus on a narrower range of businesses or opportunities?
Talk to your peers and compare what you’re getting from these activities. Peer-to-peer coaching can also be a valuable tool – now is a great time to practise: https://hbr.org/2010/02/cultivate-your-coaching-networ-2/
Take time every few weeks to reflect on what you’re learning through student activities and go through these steps again.
To give some examples here are a selection of some of the great learning opportunities through student-led activities at London Business School:
- Student leadership as a way to practise ‘delivering through others’
- Get involved in the TELL Series to hear entrepreneurial success stories first-hand and help find and select inspiring founders
- Take part in the Global Social Venture Competition to test your business idea: