Gauss-Telegraph: How To…Engage in extracurricular activities
by Lena Heinecke
Extracurricular activities basically refer to everything that you do outside of class in your free time, i.e. everything that is not on the curriculum. These can be hobbies such as drawing or sports, but part-time jobs, attending language courses and working in student initiatives are also part of these activities. Although extra-curricular activities are often mentioned in connection with job search (especially side jobs and volunteer work are often mentioned in applications because they represent professional training, a special commitment and the presence of soft skills), the psychological factor of leisure time activities should not be neglected either. Hobbies or activities that are not part of the studies allow relaxation and direct the thoughts to something other than (university) learning, so that afterwards a better concentration on the study contents is possible. Thus, extracurricular activities not only simplify the job search, but also promote a healthy course of study.
Let’s start with sports first: They promote willpower and stamina, which also helps you in your studies. In addition, the brain is better supplied with blood and thus with more oxygen, so that it feels like a new start afterwards. If you have not yet found a sport that suits you well, it is worth trying out different ones. The Sports Center of the TU Braunschweig offers more than 100 different sports courses for little money, for which you can register online. In the online semester, the courses take place as livestream. Alternatively, you can find a sports club or gym near you and train there for a trial period before you register as a member. The cheapest sports are jogging, cycling or perhaps inline skating.
Another area is anything that has to do with continuing education. One possibility are side jobs and voluntary internships. Of course it is best if the part-time job has something to do with your field of study, because this way you can learn something, make professional contacts for the future and earn money at the same time. For example, you can do this by working as a Hiwi at a certain institute. Hiwi jobs are all paid in the same way (according to the tariff, students with a completed Bachelor’s degree receive more money than those without a degree) and are often advertised online, e.g. on the notice board of stud.IP, on the institute´s website or the job market of the TU Braunschweig. In this case, there is usually also information about the application modalities. But even if the institute of your choice does not advertise a position, you might still be able to work there. For example, after a (successful) oral exam, ask the examiners if the institute is currently looking for Hiwis. I was offered one of my Hiwi jobs when I went to the exam review and discussed one of the questions from the exam with the lecturer. So he knew that I was interested in the topic and the actual grade in the exam was then completely secondary.
Werksstudent jobs are similar to Hiwi jobs, but outside of the university. They are not necessarily related to studying, although it is of course advisable to choose a part-time job that can help you find a job later on, for example. If you work successfully as a Werksstudent in a company, it might be easier to get a job there after your studies. The easiest way to search for a job as a Werksstudent is to use the known job portals (Indeed, Xing, Stepstone etc.) or you can send a speculative application to the company you want to work for.
Like Werksstudent jobs, voluntary internships are a good way to get to know a company better and to further your studies. Good times for internships are of course the semester breaks, i.e. as soon as you have written your last exam, or in combination with a subsequent master thesis in the respective company. When looking for internships, the same applies as for Werksstudent jobs: Companies advertise them on job portals or you can submit an unsolicited application. This is usually particularly worthwhile for small and medium-sized companies that do not want to invest resources in the search for interns. You can simply call the company/ write an email and ask if an internship is possible. If that is the case, they will surely tell you the right person to contact and you will get information about what is expected of you application-wise.
Another possibility to get further education and/or to get involved in the project besides your studies are student initiatives (such as the Gauss Friends). There are a variety of initiatives, from theater to airplanes, environmental protection, cinema and race cars. Therefore, there is definitely something for everyone and in general: All initiatives are always looking for members. So if you want to get involved, just contact the respective initiative (e.g. by e-mail or Facebook) and ask when you can get to know their activities. An overview of which initiatives exist and what they do can be found here.
In my opinion, every student should have at least one hobby during her studies that has nothing to do with the studies (e.g. sports or art, something to clear your head) and also find an activity that ties in with the contents of your studies and thus helps you find a job later on.
As this article has hopefully described, there is a great variety of activities to choose from, so that everyone can find something suitable for him or herself.