Getting involved at university
I think most people have the perception of a typical student – lectures, perhaps living away from home, nights out etc. However, I feel there is so much more that the university experience can offer. Regardless of the course you take, whether you are staying in halls or commuting from home, my main piece of advice would be to make the most of any opportunity that comes your way.
I always intended to go to university. I had wanted to become a primary school teacher for many years and so I headed to university. At the time, I felt that moving away from home was the best thing to do as I wanted to become more independent and in a way, wanted to be pushed outside of my comfort zone. In hindsight, I do feel that perhaps I could have got the same level independence at a university closer to home, but I still loved my university experience. The main reason why I loved it is because I was able to get involved.
Depending on your course, work experience may be essential! However, even if it's not, work experience looks great on a CV. During my time at university, I volunteered and obtained work experience in local primary schools and in special need schools. This provided me with much more experience compared to other peers and allowed me to obtain job opportunities which I may not have had otherwise.
Similarly, volunteering looks fantastic on a CV! By using some free time, you can make a real difference. This could be volunteering at university itself or by getting involved in the community. I volunteered at a local children’s charity. After volunteering for several months, a job opportunity arose and I became a paid staff member. I loved my time there and again, learnt many skills which will be useful in many different areas.
Part time work
I was very fortunate during my time at university as my job back home allowed me to continue working during holiday periods. Having part time work is fantastic as again, it looks great on a CV. Quite often, the skills obtained are transferrable and can help in any job interview. For example, a job at restaurant or a shop is great as you can talk about sales, delivering fantastic customer service and the importance of teamwork. Sometimes, especially during stressful periods at university, I found that putting my energy into something else like a job was a great escape and allowed me to focus even better when I looked at my university assignments again.
University can open up so many opportunities. Yes, we go to university to obtain degrees and to open doors regarding our careers. But I feel that there is so much more! After starting off as a shy student who was actually quite nervous to be starting this scary chapter independently, I grew into a much more confident person. I became a student ambassador and I absolutely loved it! I was part of a really kind, supportive team and made friends for life. The thought of speaking to hundreds of people used to petrify me. In fact, it still does scare me to this very day. Yet, I’ve done it and I never thought in a million years I could. I became a programme rep so I represented my course and gave feedback. I ended up winning a student rep of the year award and now my trophy sits on my fireplace. I became part of sports and societies. In my first year, I did get carried away and joined 12 different societies which was way too much but I met so many fantastic people. I ended university with more confidence, with a better direction of what I wanted to achieve and friends for life. My whole perception on what I wanted changed and I learnt so much. Make the most of the opportunity and grab every moment that comes your way!