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How to build your skills outside of the classroom

October 19, 2022
Author: Samantha Allan

Why getting involved is so important for your success

With the fall semester in full swing, there will be many opportunities to get involved on campus, meet new people and learn a host of new skills. Finding or navigating all these valuable opportunities can be overwhelming.

This guide will help you to streamline your search and zero in on the competencies you’d like to focus on, no matter which program area you’re from, what year you are in or what your interests are!

Check out events around campus

Participating in or volunteering for events is a fun, stress-free way to make new friends and learn something new outside of your program area. Many departments at VIU host events that subtly build your Graduate Attributes, the 21 core competencies that VIU hopes to instill in all of our valued alumni. You can visit the Campus Events website to find out what’s happening and how to get involved.

Apply for campus work experience

Every semester VIU offers hundreds of student employment opportunities across campus. These positions are available in most academic faculties and service departments, as well as campus governance areas. Be sure to visit the Career Studio for advice on finding the right fit and check out VIU’s student employment portal CareerVIU.

Join (or start!) a club or course union

The VIU Students’ Union (VIUSU) is your partner in growing a community with those who share your passions and interests. All of VIU’s active clubs and course unions are student-run and officiated by VIUSU, so they can help you get involved or start a club of your own. Whether you are participating in activities hosted by a club or course union or you want to get involved as a member of the executive, this is a great volunteer opportunity for your resume and scholarship applications.

Register for conferences and competitions

There are dozens of undergraduate and graduate conferences, symposiums, competitions, and expos offered across North America every year. Every year VIU hosts the CREATE Conference, a competition and celebration of the research activities that students are involved in across the University, and the Vancouver Island Leadership Conference, for building your leadership qualities, professional networking and advocacy skills. The team at VIU’s Office of Scholarship, Research and Creative Activity also maintains a list of conferences available to students and resources for how to fund your attendance, so be sure to reach out to them!

Build your Co-Curricular Record (CCR)

The VIU Co-Curricular Record (CCR) is your official non-academic transcript of your engagement outside of the classroom. Activities that qualify for your CCR can be found on the VIU Opportunity Directory, which is a comprehensive database of volunteer and paid positions available across all VIU campuses. The CCR is student-managed and housed within VIU’s Office of Co-Curricular Engagement and Learning. Be sure to check out their other programs as well!

Use free online resources

Building personal or industry skills requires considerable practice which can’t always be done in an academic setting. Whether you’re motivated to learn a new language, take up editing your own photos and videos, or become an expert at Excel, there’s likely a free resource that can help you to do so. Khan Academy offers digestible micro-lectures for many academic subjects, Duolingo provides interactive language learning lessons, LinkedIn Learning workshops are free for students employed with VIU and Skillshare is a great place to explore hands-on, creative classes.


Samantha Allan is a first-generation learner of Indigenous and British ancestry with home roots across the province of BC. She is currently a Bachelor of Business Administration, major in Management student at VIU and her long-term goal is to work in law and economic development.

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