Things I Wish I Did At The Start Of My First Year
When you start your first year, it is very easy to live in the moment and to see nothing else beyond that. That’s why some of us get ridiculously drunk on a random weekday knowing full well that there’s a lecture the following morning – we focus on the now, not the tomorrow. This has its pros and cons. Of course, having a good time with your friends is something you should enjoy, but we have to understand that our actions today have consequences for tomorrow. That is why I have come up with four things that I wish I did in first-year which would have put me in a better position today, and maybe even in years to come.
- Spend more of the first term considering/exploring career options
Many people will tell you that you have three years of university to decide which career path you want to take, and whilst this is true, I think this downplays how competitive the employment market actually is. Students are attending open days and insight schemes from as early as their first year of sixth form, so if you only start doing that in your second or third year then you’ve already allowed other individuals to have a three-year edge over you. Let me just make it clear that you DO NOT have to know what you want to be, but you should be dipping your toes in different ponds during first-year and starting to form an idea of potential career paths. Other than the aforementioned point, it is important to do this because some career paths have schemes in the second term of university so if you weren’t already looking into them in your first term, the opportunity to secure a graduate job in your second year may become a more difficult prospect to achieve, especially if you’re considering a job in the corporate world. So, my advice to you is to get LinkedIn and to follow people/companies in all the fields you are interested in. This way you can be notified about upcoming events and you can reach out to gain a greater understanding of what each role entails to help you narrow down your choices.
If you’re considering commercial law (either the solicitor or barrister route), then sign up to Vantage via my link (or name me in the “Who referred you” section) so firms and chambers can reach out to you and invite you to their events: https://portal.vantageapp.io/signup?utm_source=Warwick-CA-Tobi&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=Warwick-CA-Tobi
- Be an active member of a society
A lot of people realise they want to become the President of a society towards the end of their first-year or in their second year. When it comes to the more popular societies then competition can be fierce which is why you need to demonstrate your interest and try to garner support from the start. Of course, you can be a President in your final year, but most people would suggest that you focus entirely on your academics as a finalist so the choice is up to you.
- Build a better relationship with lecturers
Lecturers are an epitome of knowledge. It would be so silly to pass up the opportunity to find out more about your course from them and to not utilise them as resources outside of lectures. When I speak about utilising them, I mean it in two different ways: i) in your academic journey and ii) in your extra-curricular activities/career. I’ll focus on the latter since the former is the more self-explanatory of the two. Throughout university, you’ll be presented with several opportunities. Some of which will include volunteer work abroad and work experience. For both of these, you are likely to need an academic reference or a supporting statement from one of your lecturers/personal tutors. If you barely show up to lectures or fail to interact with them, how do you expect lecturers to create a convincing argument about why you should be selected for opportunities? You should also keep this in mind if you’re planning on doing a Postgraduate degree at a different university.
- Try harder with academics
Yes, your first-year grades do not technically matter since they don’t go towards your final grade, but to your potential future employer, they do. I was aware of this, but what I wasn’t aware of was that awards are given to the highest achieving student in each cohort. Some of these were monetary prizes, and let’s face it, finances are difficult to manage during uni so a couple of hundred pounds in prize money never hurt anyone. Asides from the monetary reward, nothing can beat the fact that you’re going into second year with confidence because your first-year grades reflect that you actually have the ability to graduate with a First Class. So, even if things don’t necessarily go according to plan, just try your hardest because you never know what the outcome may be!
I hope you found this useful and feel free to reach out if you have any questions or worries 🙂