Competing in the Graduate Labour Market: student perspectives on (not) participating in extra-curricular activities

Paul Greenbank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review


In order to be able to compete in an increasingly competitive graduate labour market students need to develop their ‘personal capital’. Participation in a range of relevant extra-curricular activities (ECAs) is a key element to the development of personal capital. This paper carried out in-depth interviews with undergraduates in the first and final years of their studies in order to understand the factors influencing their level of participation in ECAs. The research found that participation in ECAs was generally limited (with little change occurring during the three years of their degree), particularly in relation to year-long work placements, volunteering and sporting and cultural activities. Students often engaged in part-time working, but this was for financial reasons, with few students regarding part-time working as a way of developing their employability. The students underlying values, especially their present-time orientation, and the desire to enjoy a particular student life-style, acted as barriers to engaging in the type of ECAs that would help them to develop their personal capital. This paper suggests that higher education institutions may be able to motivate students to participate in ECAs by encouraging them to be future-orientated, less risk averse and willing to adopt a more strategic (i.e. ‘player’) approach to developing their personal capital. The paper proposes that this can be achieved by encouraging students to write about their future possible selves and asking them to undertake research into the different career options open to them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-79
JournalJournal of Teaching and Learning for Graduate Employability
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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