University can be a daunting experience, if like me when you enter the building you experience a great rush of energies; teachers grabbing their morning cappuccinos, students running to the library to print out coursework and security arguing with students who’ve forgotten their ID. Besides the organised chaos, university is a great place to find and establish who you are. As well  as the work needed to make sure you leave uni with the best degree you can, there are a number of things students should do to aid their personal and career development. Here are our top 5 tips for making them most out of your time at university and making a smooth transition into the world of work.

1. Network:

One of the most important things to do is get to know other students and build relationships. Let this be natural, don’t be too shy to start a conversation but also don’t be that one person who is always seeking attention. You have to remember that some of these students, including yourself will go on to accomplish great things and in most circumstances, it’s not what you know, but who you know. Great places to network include clubs, societies, Facebook groups, student union events and collaborations.

2. Internships:

Although unpaid internships are technically illegal, there are hundreds if not thousands still operating. Ideally you will want to find one that is paid, but if you have no experience within a certain industry an unpaid internship may be an option. If so make sure they pay for your expenses. Focus on the work culture, ask your self do they really want to teach me new skills or am I taking up a paid position? Don’t get dazzled by the excitement of getting experience, which is really exploitation. Understand that an internship is a place for you to learn new skills and create connections.

3. Establish a good relationship with lecturers:

The impression you leave with your lecturers is very important. You want to show them that you’re enthusiastic and determined to achieve a high grade. This means contributing ideas in seminars or lectures. This will make you stand out as a student; lecturers are more willing to help students who appear to work hard. Besides having a wealth of knowledge they also have connections to the industry you want to get into. When you standout some students will gravitate towards you and this can be an opportunity for you to exchange ideas, create a study group and play to each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

4. Work Hard Play Hard:

Obtaining a degree is the main goal of university life and that should be your focus, but don’t miss out on the Uni experience. As a recent graduate I know it’s easy to get caught up in studying and neglect your social life or even your health, time management is important. So don’t forget to have fun! Join different clubs and meet new people, some of your friends will go on to be some of your closest friends in life. These people are also likely to be your future work colleagues and may alert you to career opportunities in the future. So go out there and meet as many people as you can. Just don’t use this article as an excuse when you walk into a lecture hungover!

5. Understand the bigger picture:

Always remember that a degree is the end goal of your time at university. However having a degree doesn’t mean you will necessarily go out and instantly land your perfect job, in fact one of the most difficult time periods you will face is the transition from university into working life. Even with a degree it may still take many years of hard graft to get to where you want to be. This is not always a negative thing as you’ll learn new skills and learn more about yourself along the way. Having a plan is important and there’s nothing wrong with changing your path to get to where you want to be.

Words by James Childs

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