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Last week we were pleased to run another two of our successful Hackathon events, this time at The University of Bath and Newcastle University. It was the first time we had partnered with Bath, and we were over the moon to welcome more than 20 willing participants. It was our second time at Newcastle and we were overwhelmed with the response as it was our biggest Hackathon yet with close to 60 people attending.

It was evident straight away that the students got so much more out of the experience than participating in an event/enjoying some free pizza and beer. Extra-curricular activity is often just seen as a thing you can put on your CV to make you stand out from the crowd, but there’s so much more that extra-curricular activities in general can offer:

An enhanced skill set

A career in software development gives you the opportunity to be exposed to a number of different technologies that you can learn over the years. But if you expose yourself to opportunities like Hackathons, coding clubs and events run by university computer science societies as well as doing your own coding projects at home, you have the chance to learn about these technologies early, and even practise them, helping prepare you for the working world.

REAL INSIGHT

By attending grad fairs and society events you’re giving yourself the opportunity to find out about the industry and the company, and ask any questions about what you want to do in a relaxed, informal environment. For example, at Bath we had two of our graduate developers and two more senior team members volunteer to help out - this gave the participants a chance to ask them what it’s really like to be part of the company. You can tell a lot about a company culture from chatting with staff - if you find yourself getting along with the people then you’re probably going to fit in quite well.

Chris, a first year studying a BSc in Computer Science with a placement year at the University of Bath, came second in the challenge with his team. He explained: “So far, the careers events I’ve been exposed to have been focused on big brands, so it was great to hear from a smaller company and find out about other options that I can explore after my degree.”

Networking/communication skills

Learning how to talk to prospective employers is an important skill, and it can be quite daunting walking up and talking to them. But it’s something that gets easier with practice, so it’s really important to get involved with as many activities as you can. At Scott Logic communication is key; it’s important from a project perspective when working internally in teams, but also in communicating ideas to clients. It’s a skill you’ll really want to showcase when it comes to interview. So make sure you take a look at your university’s event calendar and see whether they have any graduate fairs coming up or a company is coming to do a talk. These opportunities give you the chance to practice under less pressure than an interview situation.

You could find your dream job

If you’re not quite sure what you want to do when you finish university, it’s important to immerse yourself in different experiences to help you figure out what is right for you. You could find yourself coming across your dream job and it could be one you might not have previously considered. Our Hackathons attract those studying a range of different subjects, such as Maths and Physics. There is a common misconception that you need a computer science degree to get into software development and this is not necessarily the case.

If you’re keen to get involved with one of our Hackathons, make sure you follow us on Twitter and Facebook where you can keep up to date with all our events that are going on. Our 2016 graduate intake is still open, so feel free to take a look at our graduate programme. We also have an internship for those who are still studying.