Students shouldn't have to spend their lives bulking their CVs

Rachel Robbins wishes that more people would do extracurricular activities for the fun of it, instead of doing it because they think it might impress recruiters.

“It will look sensational on your CV”, bark those organisations seeking to entice young people into an ‘invaluable’ experience that will trump all other desperate graduates’ attempts at impressing future employers. These experiences range from volunteering projects to painfully expensive weeks acting as a chai wallah to superiors who are too important to learn your name and refer to you as ‘intern’.

Many of us crave that well-earned paragraph that can be written under our ‘Work Experience’ heading in Microsoft Word, and sit and wait for the day when a senior manager says ‘Wow! You built a vegetable patch in Ghana! You’re hired!’

This growth in the number of students becoming obsessed with success worries me. Especially as success is being measured by how many clubs and societies you can fit into a three-year degree course and the repercussions of this commitment. It is not the abundance of extra activities specifically that is the issue, but I start to get cheesed off when the reasons behind actions are distorted.

For example, volunteering is a generous activity to participate in, and thousands of students in Britain take part in a plethora of projects and money-raising schemes each year. A lot of organisations, however, advertise their projects as being exceedingly beneficial to careers. Although this may be true, shouldn’t they be focusing on advertising what volunteers’ time and money will achieve?  Nevertheless, the growth in ‘voluntourism’ has meant that volunteering has become a working holiday for (mostly, affluent) students who do so purely for the recognition it will get them in that all-important interview.

At the end of the day, who can blame us? After competing to get that Saturday job, then competing to get into university, it is only inevitable that the competition lives on. The game is the same, but there are different rules this time, with new ways to win. Many of us are either playing by all the rules, and enjoying the range of opportunities open to us, whilst others refuse to stick to their role and are convinced that they may be the next Alan Sugar. After all, Lor’Alan didn’t spend months engaging in the Model United Nations Society as a representative from Thailand, did he? 

I guess I begrudge doing things purely for a team in human resources to tick off, as a representation of their company’s ‘key competencies’. This is especially true when said activity or experience was an unpleasant one. Take the new BBC programme ‘Way To Go’. Blake Harrison (The Inbetweeners) is a receptionist at a veterinary surgery, and he is met with a dog covered in its own excrement. He gets the joy of cleaning that off the counter, whilst being prohibited from touching the animals by his boss, the veterinary surgeon. If you replaced Blake Harrison and were in a real-life veterinary work experience situation instead of a fictional TV programme, your experience would stink. Yet, you’d smile and move on, convince yourself that scrubbing poo was worthwhile even though that was your full extent of animal contact, and welcome your next placement!

The demise of enjoyable work experience and extra-curricular activities is a sad truth. There must be people out there in a sports team, who resent their early morning training sessions and don’t get on with their teammates, but who persist in the hope of deploying their ‘teamwork skills’ in an application question. There will also be people who adore their sporting achievements and will continue to do so. I scribble ranting articles because I love to write, yet some may feel that squeezing emotionless metaphors into a feature about politics will get them the golden ticket to the newsroom. 

Still, if we are all fantastically educated with a variety of pastimes, aren’t we all essentially the same? We may be sheep; we all aim to be the brightest, most talented and dynamic individual, yet in this, we are bound together. 

News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant Bristol

£18000 - £23000 per annum + + uncapped commission + benefits: SThree: Did you ...

SThree: Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + benefits + uncapped commission: SThree: Did you kn...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate / Junior Web Developer

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence