With semester now in full swing, I’ve started getting my head down to complete the final push of my academia left. You’ve probably heard from other students, time at University flies by, I remember my first day in my first year like it was just yesterday!
Even though I was a confused fresher in 2014, I do recall after one lecture in Biomedical Sciences, I didn’t want to just dedicate my time solely to my studies as I had done in my previous time in education. With this in mind, I attended my first activities fair and part-time job and volunteering fair where I remember quite clearly signing up to every Give-it-a-Go (GIAG) session there was and joining a row of societies.
Realistically, I couldn’t possibly do them all but be attending those GIAG sessions did allow me to realise this and focus on what I want to get involved in. Throughout my first and second year, I learnt how to balance.
Here are some of the top things I got involved in (that you can get involved in too!) to make the most out of your University experience so that by the time you graduate you’re equipped with all the skills and experience necessary for the “real world” – whether that’s working for a company or running your own!
1) I got a part-time job
Working part-time allowed me to:
- Practice how to balance studies and work. I had to be more strategic in my approach to organisation, time-management and prioritisation.
- Enhance skills, particularly verbal communication, teamwork, taking an innovative, working under pressure, and leadership which are essential for professional jobs.
- Have a taste of what it’s like to work and earn money!
Don’t take working in retail, at a bar or coffee shop for granted – it actually is great as a stepping stone to develop yourself both professionally and personally! I worked in retail for 2+ years throughout my first and second year, near the end of my second retail job, I gained so much experience from it that I was given more responsibility and ran a training session for new staff.
Note: During term time, it isn’t recommended that students work more than 16 hours per week.
2) I didn’t shrug off employability-enhancing support that the University has on offer
I made use of them. This ranges from the Careers Service one-to-one application appointments to attending useful workshops, sessions and networking events throughout the year that helped me expand my professional connections and knowledge on topics such as making an impactful LinkedIn profile.
Taking the support from the Careers Service to my advantage, I managed to secure a placement year!
Other support I recommend include:
- 301: Student Skills and Development Centre
- University of Sheffield Enterprise – I took part in Skill Build every Thursday of a spring semester in my second year. This helped enhance my awareness and understanding of entrepreneurship and building upon ideas. Other sessions enterprise run include:
- Social Innovation Lab
- Making Ideas Happen (module)
- Start-up weekend
3) I got actively involved in student groups and other initiatives of which I am strongly passionate about
Joining societies is a great way to have fun doing things you enjoy with other people! But as I mentioned before, you don’t have time for all of them (a big mistake I made when I was that fresher joining all the societies I could possibly get involved in)
Being selective is important – you can focus more of your energy and time into something that you really enjoy and feel passionate about. That might be cheerleading, being part of the gaming society or playing and creating music with drums, flute or other wonderful instruments!
For me, it’s technology. Learning more e.g. coding languages and best practices I wasn’t aware of before. And sharing the excitement of this valuable skill (to me at least) with others.
And that’s why I got involved with Code First: Girls (CFG) in 2015. One main thing I recommend is finding a student society that you really enjoy and taking an active role in it – like being in the committee or leading it. I went from being a CFG participant to now taking a leading role in the organisation and delivery. It’s been a great way for me to:
- Build up connections in the industry (which I’m interested in working in in the future)
- Build a more inclusive, diverse and comfortable community in Sheffield for female students (which I am very passionate about!)
- Enhance my skills in public speaking, delivering presentations and teaching.
If you’re interested in finding out more and/or joining Code First: Girls, click here.
Other things I got involved in:
- My department’s Student Staff Committee where I fed back my ideas and comments to the Department on improving learning and teaching initiatives. Currently, I’m a the Digital Rep for BMS.
- Representing open days
- ScienceBrainwaves as Head of Website – tailored to my interests in website development and online communication through blogging.
Here’s a list of all the wonderful student societies at University!
TL:DR – be active in the right student groups and initiatives that are valuable to you. Go out there and explore what’s available and really make the most out of your #shefunilife.