So, there I was, flicking through my drafts when I came across this unfinished post from halfway through my second year. I’ve just finished it, and now it’s ready to be shared. I hope some of you find it useful!
In my first year, I didn’t get involved at university at all. Well, actually I did a bit: I was a mentor to a student from China, but it didn’t work out. At all. Anyway, in my second year, so far I’ve pretty much done the opposite of what I did last year and have encouraged myself to get involved as much as possible. And I’m so glad I did.
Here’s why I’m so glad I got involved at university, and why you should get involved, too:
You develop your skills
Leadership. Teamwork. Public speaking. Confidence. Time management. These are all skills that are universally recognised and are pretty much vital for everyone. So when you have the opportunity to develop your skills and essentially, to work on yourself, as it’s something that each of us will always need to do, it’s important to gain and develop these skills, for future you, on both a personal and professional level. So do it for future you.
You might even end up making some money
A few months ago I got a job at my university as Student Social Media Officer, so am now part of the English Department’s Social Media Team (as I wrote this so long ago, my contract has finished now, but just roll with it!). Not only do I absolutely love it as it’s allowing me to develop my skills and gain experience with using social media professionally, etc, but I’m also getting paid. I think pretty much all universities offer jobs to their students, whether it’s as ambassadors (which I am yet to be, but really want to), or something else, it’s 100% worth checking on the careers page to see if there are any roles on offer. Sometimes it’s just a couple of hours a week/help during Clearing/helping at certain times, so it could just be a one off way of making some extra cash.
The networking opportunities are endless
Whether you’re at a society event or helping out as an ambassador, there’ll always be lots of people around. We’ve all heard the saying “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”, right? It’s so important to network and make contacts. Once you make the effort of approaching someone or getting to know someone and what they do, you might even find a way that they, or their services, could benefit you or even ways that you may be able to help them.
What’s to say that you won’t meet a potential business partner or even your future best friend? Of course, making professional contacts is extremely important, but there’s nothing stopping you from socialising and making friends, too. So do both if you want to.
You’ll learn how to work with all kinds of different people
You could be working with students, staff, potentially even alumni or prospective students, and the bigger the variety of people that you work with, the better it is for future you. If you’re only used to working with or being surrounded by certain types of people, you might panic or not know what to do when surrounded by others, so expanding the variety and casting out a bigger net is the best way to go. Also, you can always ask for tips along the way, which (going back to the first point) will be so helpful in increasing your knowledge and bettering yourself.
You learn new things
Try something you’ve never done before & you’ll learn something you never knew before – it really is as simple as that. There’s always space to learn new things, so why not take full advantage of that?
You never know unless you try. So try.
It prepares you for life after graduation & you’ll stand out from the crowd
You’ve probably heard this a million and one times, but if you’re going for a job and both yourself and another candidate have 1st class degrees, they’re going to choose the one with the most experience, not the one who dedicated all their time to studying. Harsh, but so, so true. (Unless they’re family. Then you have an unfair disadvantage.) If you think going to lectures and seminars, meeting your friends and just eating prepares you for the real world you are so wrong.
These are once in a lifetime opportunities
After university, there will hardly ever be the kind of opportunities given to you where you can go to a different country, to a summer school etc, develop your skills, make new friends and have it all paid for. After university, it probably won’t ever be this easy for us to meet new people and make friends with like-minded people. We have so many opportunities practically being handed to us, so how can we let them go? Of course, it goes without saying that you should only take on the amount that you can handle; don’t bite off more than you can chew. Be realistic and please, please don’t spread yourself too thin or you’ll wear yourself out and there’s no way you’ll be as productive as you’re capable of being.
You open up more doors
This is similar to the point about preparing yourself for after graduation, but this point is about opening the doors before graduation, too. You don’t need to graduate before you can start doing stuff; why should you have to do that? Now, I know I’m packing in the popular cliches here, but they actually fit in so well. Have you ever heard the phrase “If you don’t have an opportunity, make one”? Well, that’s what you have to do. An example would be that I went to a talk by Debut (a student app for finding jobs and internships), and by the end of it, I was extremely inspired and was chatting to the marketing team for the app about a potential collaboration. See what I’m saying? You have to carve the keys for the doors yourself. Open the doors, man, open all of those doors.
You can add it to your CV
With all these new skills you’re learning, you’ll have lots to add to your CV.. In fact, not only to your CV; you’ll have lots to mention in application forms and interviews, too, when asked about certain situations. The more experience you have, the more you can back up your points about being a good leader, or having excellent communication skills, for example.
You get to figure out what you like, what you’re good at and what needs working on – it’s all trial and error
At the beginning of this post, I mentioned how I was a mentor to another student, and that that didn’t work out, but it’s okay. Looking back now, I know what I could have improved on and I think that one of the only ways that you can work on yourself is if you know what needs working on. You have to identify the problem before you start solving it, right? So how do you identify the problem? You look back and reflect on what you did and the outcome it had. But before any of that, you have to actually do something. Here’s another example: at an interactive 2 day course held at uni, I was put into a team with three other people to pitch our ideas and compete against the other teams. We came second (yayyy) but it was only at that weekend that I realised I needed to work on my team working skills. Now I know that’s what I need to work on to move forwards. Do you see where I’m coming from? Only once you’ve actually tried something can you reflect on it.
As you can see, the moral of this post is do it for future you. Okay, and present you, too – basically, do it to develop yourself and your skills.
You don’t want to look back when it’s all over & regret not getting more involved. I mean, they say your uni years are the best of your life, but the truth is that you have to make them the best years.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading! Do you have any more reasons to add to this list? Let me know in the comments below.
1 Week Mary x