When you first embark on a university degree, there are so many things to consider (eg, new place, new friends and getting to grips with the course) that the last thing on your mind might be adding to that list and getting involved in a student society. But most UK universities now have an extensive list of societies that welcome newcomers, and it is well worth trying to get involved from the offset. No matter whether you’re interested in sport, dance, film, language or radio, you can get involved with a host of groups at university. Not only can these be a fun way to relax, stay fit or make friends, they can also be invaluable as a discussion point in legal interviews.
One of the most obvious reasons you should get involved with a society, particularly if you’ve not had a part-time job before, is to be able to demonstrate that you have worked in a group. As universities societies often function on the premise that everyone will have to work together to manage them, being part of this environment will allow you to demonstrate this crucial quality.
Further, as lawyers are often required to work in teams to resolve issues and interact with clients in constructive, helpful ways, recruiters will be on the lookout for candidates that can effectively communicate and work on a team. If you are particularly passionate about a sport, hobby or skill that you have developed through a university society, your enthusiasm will shine through when you’re talking to interviewers.
Before I came to university, the only experience I had of the radio was listening to it. Joining the student radio society gave me the opportunity to learn new skills – from how to use the production equipment to how to read the news live on air. While I don’t want a career in radio per se, this was an amazing opportunity for me to be able to understand the ins and outs of the industry – something which university societies give you a chance to explore! Joining societies that require you to develop new skills will show potential employers that you are enthusiastic and have a willingness to learn.
Whether you’re responsible for booking the whole society’s tour to Barcelona, or you’re involved in ordering team kit, some financial responsibility might come your way if you find yourself on the executive committee of a university society. This is a great skill to show employers in an interview, particularly for commercial law, as the interviewer will be looking for you to show how you’ve used finances in a creative but responsible fashion. After all, as a commercial solicitor, you will advise clients on their future endeavours.
I know a lot of people do get involved in university societies, but you’d be surprised at the number of students who don’t. Many students go through university wanting only to concentrate on their studies, without putting any effort into extracurricular activities. Although law is a highly competitive area, and therefore many applicants will have been involved in some society or another, being part of a society still makes you stand out, especially if you can clearly explain the transferable skills that your position in a society has given you to an interviewer.