So you’re just about to start second semester: you’re tired, you’re stressed and you’re still not really sure what’s going on. Here’s some advice from a third year who’s lived through it…
Now I’m about to graduate, I’m starting to panic about what I’m going to do, and all the experience I don’t have. So, here are all the things I wish I’d done in my first year, while I had the chance.
Use first year to find your extracurricular activities
Whether its finding a sport that lets you blow off steam, a hobby that calms you down when deadlines have you panicking, or an internship that gives your CV a boost, the best thing you can do in your first year is remember there’s a whole world outside of university. Try not to get too stuck in the routine of going to university, writing essays, partying and sleeping. As someone panicking that I have little to no experience in my field (and mere months until I graduate) I know I wish I’d started early.
Make friends with people on your course
Not only is it much nicer to have people to sit with in lectures, at the library, or to panic to when exams loom, the people you study with will also soon become your colleagues. Build up good rapports with people now, and networking will be much easier. Especially going into super competitive careers, or something like freelancing. Plus, they’re probably really great people! Walking into a boardroom meeting, interview or even just an office kitchen, seeing someone you know, or know of, is much less daunting than starting from scratch. You might even meet people you want to start a business with once you graduate. Strong relationships are the foundation to success.
Don’t worry if you don’t know what you want to be
I still have no idea what kind of career I want when I graduate in July. I do, however, have a few ideas of what I really don’t want! Keep an open mind about the type of jobs you might like. Get involved with work experience, internships and workshops in a variety of industries. A lot of graduate jobs are more concerned with you having a good degree than the subject you took. (Want to know more about looking for jobs? Check out our expert’s opinion.) Don’t worry if your degree doesn’t seem to fit the path you want to take. Take advantage of any workshops your university puts on to help with CVs, interviews and employability. I don’t know about my classmates, but I’m trying to cram in as many as possible alongside my essays.
Gain as much experience as you can
Take this blog as an example. For me, its a great way to hone my writing skills and gain experience in a practical way. The best way to look employable once you graduate is to fill your CV with experience. It’s also good to know the skills you’ve learnt along the way. Volunteering with your university eco team, or helping raise money for charity with your society is a great way to show employers that you’re worth an interview. The earlier you start, the less stressful it’ll be. It’s also a really good way to stay connected. University can be a bubble, it was for me for the first two years. You’ll have plenty to talk about with your third year flat mates if you’ve done more than just hang around on campus.
Keep learning (even once you graduate)
There are always new skills to learn. Employers are always looking for people who speak multiple languages, can code, or are great at data analysis. I’m really lucky that my university offers a language module a year for free, no matter what your degree subject. If your university does too, take advantage. If not, apps like Duolingo or Memrise (not an ad, I just think they’re great) are a fab way to top up your GSCE French skills or learn a new language completely.
Most of all, enjoy it. First year passes in a heartbeat, so the best advice I can give you is to make the most of it.