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GradSift 2020 Research: Student Extra-Curricular Activities

GradSift completed an analysis of around 10,000 recent graduate and intern applicants with a focus on their extra-curricular activities. Applicants were from all disciplines. We started by looking at the categories of extra-curricular activities and the roles that students held. Naturally there was variation from students who are involved in many activities to those who don’t participate at all.

















40% of all student extra-curricular activities involved some form of volunteering or active participation.

Leadership positions ranked second at 17% of all activities. Some examples of a leadership role could be captain of a sporting or debating team, president of a student society or community group, founder or leader of a non-commercial venture or fund-raising organiser for a not-for-profit.

A committee member position (or similar) accounted for 12% of all activities. These roles typically require leadership skills, so together with leadership positions we found

Just under 30% of all extra-curricular activities are giving students defined leadership experience.

From the other categories, 15% of student activity was in structured travel, either as part of an overseas exchange program or international travel experience.

Other extra-curricular activities included a major award recipient, where a student has pursued an interest and has been formally recognised for excellence. That could be academic, community, political, or personal.

Similarly, high performance relates to students who perform at elite levels in arts, sports or similar.

6% of activities were as a general member of an organisation, where the student has an interest but isn’t proactively involved in its activities.

We then looked at what students did in their extra-curricular activities.


















34% of extra-curricular roles led to gaining organisational functional experience.

While these are not paid work positions, students have been involved in functional roles such as Marketing, Engineering, Law etc. For example, volunteering as a digital marketer for a not-for-profit, acting as treasurer for a sports club, actively participating in engineering design in a student engineering project.

21% of roles were in community and not-for-profit organisations where students engaged in their core activities. For example, volunteering in a religious youth group or as a charity youth worker or delivering the services of a not-for-profit.

15% involved sports. Another 15% was in travel, either overseas exchange study or personal travel.

Education, typically volunteer tutoring, made up 10% of activities.

We analysed the data further breaking it down by gender.

The first insight was that

Females participated in 17% more extra-curricular activities compared to males.
















We also had data for applicants who identified as neither male or female. The population size itself was small at around 100 applicants or 1% of the total. But the data did show that group were engaged in 21% more extra-curricular activities compared to males.

Here is the comparison of extra-curricular roles by gender groups.
















While all groups actively volunteer, there are some gender differences when it comes to leadership roles and travel.


For leadership roles, males report taking on a greater number of clear leadership activities.

Although at the committee member level where more collaboration may be required, the results were uniform across all groups.

Females are more likely to participate in travel including overseas exchange and gain the benefit from those experiences.

We then looked at what applicants did in their extra-curricular activities.

















Functional experience was the leading extra-curricular activity for all groups.

Males were more likely to play sports and less so to travel.


Females were more likely to volunteer for not-for-profits and travel.

You can choose to draw some gender conclusions from this data but it’s not the purpose of the analysis.

But the truly valuable insight is:

What does the data look like for the graduates we hire?

GradSift’s analytics function automatically generates this data for its Enterprise edition clients. It benchmarks data for hires against all applicants. That’s in addition to reports showing the effectiveness of marketing channels and campus activities right down to university level.



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