Many of us will remember our undergraduate years as being the best years of our life. And why wouldn’t they be? University life is fun, it’s exciting, you’re making new friends, learning new things, and partying more than you ever thought was physically possible. But here’s the catch…
As much as you should come out of uni having had three years of youthful and blissful fun, you should also bear in mind that what the student experience also is, amongst other things, is a step into the dreaded “real world” you’ve so often heard of. If you do it right, it could actually be a massive help for later in life when you’ll eventually be trying to choose a career.
So in order to ensure that you don’t miss out on the best uni experience possible, we asked graduates for some tips on how to fully take advantage of the student life.
1. Get out of your bubble
More than ever, university is the time to choose your friends. What excites you in life? What are your interests? Your passions? Who could help you explore those interests? Not much of a social butterfly? Neither are a lot of people, and university is the perfect place to find other like-minded friends. Surround yourself with other students from whom you can learn, whom you might even be able to one day work with, those who bring out the best version of yourself and who will eventually help you become the person you want to be.
2. Embrace University societies
Why, you ask? For starters, they’re a great place to meet those like-minded friends we were previously discussing. You can find societies for pretty much anything nowadays. Joining a society can help you have a deeper understanding of something you are currently studying. You could also join a society for something that has nothing to do with what you are studying but is something that you are also interested in. For example, you’re a medicine student but always wanted to try directing, why not join the filmmaking society? Or join a sports society and add a bit of exercise to your week. A society could even help you achieve a skill you’ve always wanted to have. It could help you work on something about yourself you’ve always wanted to change. For example, tired of being so shy all the time? Why not try joining the drama society or the debate society? The skills you will gain from such societies could help you later in life when you’ll find yourself in a situation where you’ll have to speak in front of a team, or an audience. Little does it matter what society you end up joining. At the end of the day, extracurricular activities always looks great on a C.V.
3. Apply for internships
Ah the joy of working for free. Unfortunately, we live in a world in which most jobs require experience, and the only way to get any experience to begin with is to work for free, or for very little money. At university you have longer holidays, less workload and a student loan, all of which are luxuries you can forget about after graduation. It’s the perfect time to try and cram in some internships and work experience. For the ones of you out there not lucky enough to find paid work experience, bear in mind that although working for free might seem discouraging, you will find valuable life and work lessons in those internships. In time they will help you gain the knowledge and the experience that will lead you to paid work in the field of your choice. It is also important to remember that although internships and work experiences will often be unpaid, they should never cost you. Do make sure that your transport, at the very least, is always covered.
4. Do some volunteer work
In the same idea of not being able to afford working for free later on in life, why not try doing some volunteer work? Even just one night a week. Just as an internship, volunteer work will look great on a CV. But volunteer work can also teach you a lot about life, about the difficulty of life, and it will help you grow as a human being in a constructive way.
5. Take advantage of all that university has to offer
Pay attention to all of the events your university is organising: all the talks, the forums, and the career advice. Make sure you also make use of all of the facilities: the humongous libraries, the print studios, and student discounts for some cheap cultural outings. (Trust me, you will miss those discounts.)
6. Get to know your city
If you’ve moved to a different city for university, it’s a wonderful opportunity to fully immerse yourself into a new experience. Make sure you discover everything this new city has to offer. Learn about it’s history, it’s secret trendy places, you could then come out of it feeling like you’ve gained a second home.
Now don’t panic. We’re not saying that you need to have done all of these things by the end of university; these are just a few examples of ways you can come out of your degree feeling like you have had a complete student experience. The essential idea is that you branch out, that you try new things and that you come out of it ready to tackle the real world.