It’s a stressful time of year for third years. You’re in the midst of dissertation madness, everywhere you look there’s another deadline and exams are looming. On top of that people all around you are telling you you must be making yourself into the perfect candidate for innumerable job and graduate scheme applications.
The end of your time at NTU is looming.
Don’t panic! Here are a few tips from one of last year’s graduates to help you survive the term ahead, show you how you can grab every opportunity to make the most of the rest of the year to give yourself and your CV a boost for life afterwards, while still making the most of student life. (Sounds impossible, right?)
1. Organisation Is A Must
Although this sounds obvious, when there’s so much going on a lot of us feel we just don’t have time to waste to get organised. I URGE you to take an afternoon or two to do it anyway. Make sure you’re aware of all your Uni deadlines and how much work you have to do in that time. There will likely be times when you’re working on several things at once. I needed a calendar on my wall with each deadline coloured, so I had a visual of how long I had left, and could look forward to times when things were easier. A diary was essential for me to plan what I needed to do each day, to get the worst task out of the way first and to keep track of the most important job applications.
2. Don’t panic when it comes to the dissertation/final project.
Work out what’s required of you early on, and break it down into smaller steps. Don’t think it’s something you can knock out in a matter of weeks. For me, just checking the references, formatting and printing the final document took over a week. The whole thing was made worse and worse by the fact I knew I was running out of time, so I panicked more and more. Looking back, I’d tell myself to calculate how long I thought the dissertation would take, then doubled it.
3. Visit the Careers Centre
Brush up that CV. Get advice on applications and job search skills or find out about funding for further study – a visit to the Careers Centre is a must for final year students. Asking for advice stopped things preying on my mind – I could write a query down and stop it preying on my mind. And, as a bonus, the Careers service at NTU is open to you for three years after graduation.
4. Get some work experience
This is arguably one of the most important activities you can do outside of your degree. Employers are on the lookout for graduates with practical skills in their discipline, and transferable skills like communication, leadership and time management. Work experience is the best way to make your CV shine. If you don’t know where to start, you can find information on job vacancies through the Careers service and NTSU.
5. Figure out why you are the best
Work out what your strengths and natural abilities are. Identify what skills you have learned from your degree. Have you been involved in any societies or sports clubs? What hobbies and interests do you have? Nobody else will have the same education/skills/experiences etc. as you – you are unique, and it is your job to tell employers why this makes you the ideal candidate.
6. Consider never leaving
I don’t mean squatting in the halls over summer, but considering a Masters or PhD. If your subject genuinely excites you and you fancy a challenge, it’s an option worth looking at.
7. Organise something
Your university years are the prime time to put on an event, whether it’s a debate, rally, conference, a social night or presentation from a visitor. As well as being fun, event planning on any scale shows off teamwork, problem solving and organizational skills – three of the top sought-after traits in potential employees, according to the Association of Graduate Recruiters.
8. Watch the sunrise
Whether you get up early, or stay up all night, take time to appreciate the sunrise over Nottingham – it’s likely you won’t have time for this when deadlines kick in.
9. Become a culture vulture
Visit museums, galleries or the cinema during the day when it’s quieter (yes, we think the summer blockbuster counts as culture). Do all the touristy things you can in Nottingham – when you’re working you won’t have the time or the freedom to do this.
Whether its online or in person, networking is important both professionally and personally, regardless of the area you plan to work in.
11. Volunteer or do something for charity
Whether you sit in a bath of baked beans, get involved in the university’s RAG organisation or take up long-term volunteering. Doing your bit is fun, develops new skills and looks great on your CV.
12. Consider your Membership
Joining a formal society (e.g. Royal Geographical Society, Royal Society of Chemistry) relevant to your discipline can develop your interests, expand your intellectual horizons and provide you with a number of benefits. NTU offers Graduate Membership of the libraries, this could be worth considering if you live nearby and want to use their services or keep your skills up to scratch. The SU also offers Associate Membership, giving you the opportunity to stay involved with some activities if you are likely to be in/near Nottingham.
13. Join the Alumni Association
Membership of the Alumni Association can offer a multitude of benefits such as university updates, keeping in touch with your department and fellow students, news of events, lectures and career opportunities, newsletters and special offers and discounts.
14. Buy an interview outfit
We know you’re comfortable in those holey jeans, but if you can work yourself up to buying a good suit now, you will reap the dividends later. A good quality, classic suit, though expensive, will get you through any upcoming interview and is an investment that will serve you well for years to come.