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September 25, 2017

Advice from a final year student - Organisation

Our blogger Jools is coming towards the end of his degree and here are a few pointers how to make your degree run smoothly and you will graduate with the best degree you can.

My time at university is closer to the end than it is to the start.  With that in mind, I can give you a few things that I have either experienced or seen through my time at university.

There are many things that you need to organise through your time at university.  Some of them are pretty obvious but some you may not have thought of, or have put out of your mind.

 

Time

Although a week seems like a long time, they do seem to go really quickly.  Each week is the same length – 168 hours, but there will be times when you get to the end of the week and wonder where it has gone and that you’ve not been able to get everything done that you either wanted or needed to.

Make a list of the things that you need to get done, the things you want to get done and the things that so know will get in the way.

I’m not saying schedule it out to the exact minute, from experience that just doesn’t work, but try and put a few things in for a day that you can knock off the list.

Be realistic about what you can do in a day.  Remember that you have to eat, drink, and sleep during a 24-hour period.  Some of you may be able to work all through the night and then go to classes the next day, but your body will give out at some point.  Believe me, I used to do that and then would feel rough for the next week.  No amount of caffeine helps after a point!

 

Life

In addition to getting as much study done as possible, you will want to have a life!  A social life is a very important part of being a student, in terms of sports, clubs or going for a night out.  Just be mindful of how much of your social life is taking up your week.  There’s nothing wrong with a couple of nights out a week, but when you’re out 7 nights a week, and feeling rough the next morning and feeling ill in lecturers, is that really worth it?

Some of you may feel that you need to study every minute of the day, which is an admirable thing to do.  I would recommend taking a little time away from the books and the screens, just to save your sanity!  It doesn’t have to cost a lot, even just walking around the block for a bit of fresh air can help you feel fresher and ready to bury your nose in the books again 😊

A phrase that gets thrown around is about the work/life balance and you’ll hear lots about that when you get into the big wide world of work. 

Be realistic about what you can achieve in a day or a week and remember that things will crop up, so be flexible.

 

Food

Eating well helps your body to recover from the stuff you will put it through.  That might be late nights, sporty days or getting ill.  But think of healthy food and drink as putting petrol in a car.  If you keep it topped up with clean fuel, then it won’t run out and keep running smoothly.

Being at university, you have the freedom to eat what you want, when you want to.  Living on takeaways and fizzy drinks (or whatever takes your fancy) for a few weeks will be handy, but may start to feel a little sluggish, and your bank balance will take a beating!

You will be limited in terms of space in the communal fridge or kitchen cupboards, but try and keep yourself fed well during your time at university and then when your family ask “if you’re eating well”, you can answer them honestly!

 

Work and work experience

I’ve put these two together although they are very different.

Work experience is usually unpaid but can be beneficial to your overall degree.  Not in terms of the actual degree that you walk away with after 3 years, but it can help your CV to stand out from the rest of your peers when you go for jobs.

Imagine this scenario:

You have applied for a job along with 199 other graduates and got through the selection process to be in the final 5 that have got an interview, what makes your CV stand out from the other 4 who have all got the same degree as you?

Will they employ someone who has the piece of paper but no experience of the world of work, or the person who has that same piece of paper but also has 4 months working in a similar role, worked on the student radio station and also contributed to the Student Union?

Having experience of the real world of work will give you an advantage if the company that you did your work experience with can give you a glowing reference.

Paid work can be a little different.  It may or may not have any relevance to your studies.  It may just be a few quid that you’ve been earning through your studies, but remember to keep the balance between that and your studies, no matter how tempting an overtime shift might be for an extra £20.

I’ve been very lucky to get a part-time job through my degree where I can use my skills from the degree for the company.  Producing videos, writing blog posts and dealing with social media are a small part of the role I have at Pad Group, but I’ve been able to use my knowledge from my degree here.

My CV shows almost 4 years of radio presenting, 6 weeks working with a radio news team, 15 months working for The Pad Group, writing online, producing video content, hosting Twitter networking hours for 2 years…the list really does go on! Yes, it’s been hard to juggle everything along with having a life and studying hard, but hopefully this year is up, I can go to employers with a decent degree and a bucketful of experience of a range of different jobs and roles.

My simple advice is: What makes you stand out from the crowd in a good way?  Why would an employer give you the job over the person stood beside you?

Jools Oughtibridge

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