Adult volunteer planting flowers with a child, as part of the Plymouth in Bloom project

It is widely accepted that students who achieve good employability outcomes after they graduate do so because they have more to offer than just a strong academic record. Employers are looking to employ graduates who have experience to offer beyond good grades because through these experiences, students can offer and evidence a wider set of important attributes such as commitment, resilience, independence, leadership etc. There are rich opportunities for students to get involved with extra curricular activities because of the wide range of options available.

As academic staff, we have a role to play in supporting students engaging in extra curricular activities. We can motivate and encourage students to take up opportunities by showing students that we value the extra curricular things they do, by highlighting its importance, and by signposting students to opportunities. Milner et al, (2016) provide useful evidence on the value of extra-curricular activities; they discuss how academic staff can support and encourage extra-curricular involvement; and they also ask that inclusion issues, for students from less-privileged backgrounds be considered.

Signposting students to extra-curricular opportunities
The University of Plymouth Student Union (UPSU) 
UPSU is a great first place to direct students to. Through their employability tab, they link students to a host of volunteering opportunities, as well as sports clubs and societies. They offer chances to work as Student Representatives, they promote student jobs and they support students in taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Award.
Careers Service
The Careers Service are particularly helpful in supporting students in finding part-time work through their job vacancies board, and the part-time jobs fair. They also promote the Student Ambassadors scheme.
Plymouth Guild
The University works in partnership with the Plymouth Guild, providing a wide range of volunteering opportunities in the local area.
The Sprint programme is a 4-day programme for undergraduate women currently studying a science, technology, engineering, accounting or mathematics degree at the University, designed to help students take control of their personal development. 
Valuing and linking extra-curricular experience to the curriculum
In addition to encouraging students to take up opportunities, academic staff can help student connect their extra-curricular activity to other areas of the curriculum and university support. In particular, we need to think about how we support students in relating their extra-curricular activities to the following: Personal Tutoring, PDP, HEAR, Plymouth Compass
All of these inter-related areas are mechanisms by which we help students recognise, record, reflect on and articulate their learning. 
Justice Works has been developed to signpost students to volunteering and work related learning opportunities available to assist employability skills. 
Occupational Therapy students showcase the value of volunteering.
Student Ambassadors get paid for the work and develop a range of employability-related skills including, communication, presentation, organisation and leadership skills. The Student Ambassador podcast illustrates the benefits of participating.

Stacey DeAmicis - extra curricular experience

Dr Stacey DeAmicis, Lecturer in Marine Ecology, talks about extra curricular experiences for our students.


Do-it – Is a national website that connects volunteers to thousands of volunteering opportunities 

‘It’s everything else you do…’: Alumni views on extracurricular activities and employability Active Learning in Higher Education July 2015 16: 133-147, first published on March 25, 2015 

Dean, J. (2015) Volunteering, the market, and neoliberalism. Sheffield Hallam University.People, Place and Policy (2015): 9/2, pp. 139-148 

Volunteering and International students – Times Higher 

The Connected Curriculum. University College London