Calling all first years: get out of bed

By university fresher, Hannah Wann.

Alarm goes off. Hit snooze; the lecture can wait. Sound familiar? Everyone knows that being a fresher at university is all about going out too much, rarely emerging from your bed and doing the minimum of the little work that you’re required to do.  First year is like a cosy bubble where the reality of the coming years of dissertations, placements and job-hunting seem far, far away and the most important things of your agenda are stocking up on baked beans and avoiding the library at all costs.

However, although the real world seems like a comfortingly safe distance away in your first terms at university, it will creep up on you a lot quicker than you think. Before you know it you will be faced with the stressful task of applying for internships and jobs and trying to make yourself look employable, while at the same time having actual important exams to revise for and less hours to do it all in thanks to your new timetable. So, instead of taking for granted the ease of first year and whiling away you copious amounts of free time doing… pretty much nothing, get a little proactive! The job market isn’t getting any easier and with thousands of unemployed graduates applying for the same internships and positions, if you want to stand out at all and have a chance of being successful when you get to that point, you need to put the work in. The earlier you start this process, the easier it is, and the better your CV will be in a year or two. First year is a brilliant time to begin as your work load is light and your hours are few.

If you’re wondering ‘where do I start?’, here are my tips for getting the career-ball rolling:

–          Research –research placements, internships and companies in the field or industry you’re interested in, educating yourself on where takes interns or has graduate schemes and keeping up to date with new opportunities. If you get into this early and get connected with what’s going on, it will be a lot less daunting when it finally comes to applying. Research thoroughly and not just for the obvious, large companies, as you’re much more likely to secure an internship or job in a smaller one as fewer applicants apply.

–          Read blogs (like this one!) -this can really help as you can learn from other students’ and graduates’ experiences, get ideas and get motivated. You quickly learn that you are not the only one finding it difficult to find work experience!

–          Update your CV – before going to university it was all about the UCAS applications, now it’s the CV. I don’t know about you but I hadn’t updated mine since I was sixteen and applying to my first waitressing job – it was gathering dust. There are numerous blogs and websites out there to help to with this and don’t forget it’s not all about academic achievements and work experience, extracurricular activities make you interesting.

–          Make yourself employable – try and get any work experience you can in the area you’re interested in so you can then add to your CV.  Even if they’re just small tasks, such as handing out flyers for a company, you have to start somewhere. There’s quite a lot of work experience that you can do while still in university and not just on a placement year, so think outside the box. Also, get volunteering or doing charity work, show what you can do with your skills.

Now there are no excuses! The duvet and Facebook can wait.

(You will thank yourself for this.)

Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahMarieWann.