Really sorry for a shortage of posts recently, life has been pretty hectic to say the least! However, I have a series of posts lined up for you, so I promise I’ll be back to regular blogging.
With Christmas approaching, I wanted to use this post to reflect on the last few months, and specifically, how I handled the jump between first year and second year of University. This change is something which most definitely affected me and my friends, with many of us spending the first few weeks back feeling totally overwhelmed by the substantial increase in workload. However, having now completely my first term, I feel equipped to offer my advice as to how to stay calm and manage everything second year has to throw at you.
Firstly, if you’re doing a placement year be prepared that the application process will take up a lot of your time and it may be a good idea to start preparing over summer. Customising and perfecting your CV is the place to start, however this isn’t a quick task as the content is crucial. For me, my natural writing style is very conversational, so I really struggled when trying to change it into the concise and relevant CV style. Other people’s opinions can be super helpful, I turned to my Dad and careers professionals at my University. As well as perfecting your CV you are also required to write a cover letter for every placement you apply for. Having never written a cover letter before, I found this quite an overwhelming task. This is one of your main opportunities to sell yourself – so do your research! Make sure you include snippets from the job description and relate them to your personal skill set. I would also suggest researching the company, via their website and Twitter and see what they’re getting involved in. Including this in a cover letter shows you have genuinely taken the time to show an active interest in what the company is doing. But ultimately when it comes to placement year applications, don’t stress. I’ve kind of adopted the attitude that what’s meant to be will be. Make sure you prepare early and don’t take rejections personally. In most cases, it’s probably a sign that there’s a better suited opportunity out there for you.
My second piece of advice would be to prepare yourself to become both more productive and more organised than you had to be in first year. I’ve come to the realisation that my free time is so much more valuable this year, and I certainly do not have time for endless Netflix days and continuous trips to the beach. However, I think it’s super important not to become bogged down in assignments/placement applications and still dedicate time to yourself. My best piece of advice for mastering this is to be organised and plan ahead. At the end of every week I spend maybe half an hour working out how I’m going to fill my days for the upcoming week: by being productive, but also, by having free time to chill out and enjoy myself. It took me a while to master a routine, but through trail and error I have now realised I work best between the hours of 11am-5pm, particularly in a quiet setting such as the library. I also know if I go on a big night out, sadly there’s no chance of me doing anything productive the next day. I’d say being honest with yourself about where your strengths and weaknesses lie is a great place to start when making an organised weekly schedule. At the end of the day, there’s no point me convincing myself I’m going to be productive after a night in town because it’s just not going to happen!
My final piece of advice would be, speak to people about how you’re feeling (good or bad)! Speaking on behalf of me and my immediate friends, the jump from first year to second year was initially really overwhelming. With a substantial amount of assignment work, on top of trying to find a suitable placement, the pressure can begin to mount. However, it’s important to remember that other people are feeling the same and there are so many people you can speak to. Your friends, your parents, your lecturers and student support are amongst some. As well as speaking to people about how you feel, also remember to give yourself time to adjust. Second year is a brand new chapter in your life, so it’s totally normal to go through an adjustment stage, before you settle back into a routine.
Thank you for reading, I hope this post has offered some good advice as to how tackle second year. In summary, be organised, speak to those around you, and ultimately stay calm – you’ll smash it!