I should start off by saying that I run the risk of sounding regretful about my choices during university; but rather, I am simply acknowledging all the things I could have done before and can do now!
If I had the opportunity to re-do the last few years, these are the things I would do differently:
- Got a part time job
I would apply for a job in the first few months of settling in, regardless of whether I needed the money. I always thought that having a job would be a distraction from my studies (as if I didn’t find other distractions…) but as time went by, I noticed that many of my friends with jobs were better at time management and spent less time procrastinating. The same friends were out for Massive Mungos on Wednesdays and Soap Nights at Venue on Saturday and still graduated with great grades. It is doable for many people but if it’s not for you then work your notice and quit. It is still worth a try and it’s something to add to your CV.
- Attended more social events
I joined a society thinking I would meet more people and make friends, I paid the 6-quid fee and hardly attended any events. Where was I during those events? Probably sitting in my room looking at the event page that was advertising the free pizza and wine, thinking “meh, can’t be asked, I’ll just go on just-eat and get a takeaway”.
- Travelled more
If I had got that part time job, I would have felt better about spending money and possibly travelled. I now sit for yet another year in the world of academia dreaming about interrailing around Europe.
My excuses were that I had no friends to travel with, I didn’t know the place and it was a lot of money. You can always make friends wherever you go – yes it will be nerve-wracking travelling alone and you will probably face some bumps along the way. One of my friends shared some valuable advice given to her before embarking on her solo travels, she was told: “when has it ever been a good story that you travelled to your hotel and slept really well on a comfy bed? That’s not something that is memorable. The best stories are ones where things didn’t go your way and you had to figure things out along the way”.
You can see more about what she is doing here: www.solosomji.tumblr.com
- Used resources better
During my second year of undergrad, I realised that I had not stepped into the library since the orientation week, unless I was getting a coffee or meeting a friend. Many students work well at home and a lot of resources are undoubtedly available online, but I later realised that going to the library was important for me when I needed a specific book that was key to an essay I was writing at the time or just for a change of scenery while studying. The atmosphere at university is quite different from that at home and I can feel it even more now that I am living at home with my family and studying. You don’t necessarily have to go to the library, you can always use the many study hubs and even seminar rooms when they are not in use.
- Not followed everyone’s advice
A lot of people will volunteer advice and many of them will be well placed to do so, especially if they have been through what you are going through. It is important to remember that what worked for them may not necessarily work for you. Listen to everyone and then sift through their advice to figure out what you want to do.
Never feel guilty for not taking someone’s advice.
- Applied for jobs earlier
There was a point in my life where I had everything planned out. I knew I wanted to do my LLB, move to Kenya to do law school and then work there. Now this was a decision I’d made based on a quite a bit of research, but things changed so drastically. I didn’t do as well in my exams as I’d hoped, there was a political crisis in Kenya… and the list could go on forever.
I still did my LLB but I chose to go on and do the Legal Practice Course. Had I known I would go on to do that, I would have taken training contract applications a lot more seriously (you may know that law firms recruit trainees two years in advance).
Sometimes you may not know how things will pan out but the best approach is to prepare for several outcomes including ones that you don’t think you are particularly inclined towards at the time. So when you see that speculative application come up for a paralegal position, or a graduate application for a human resource management job, go ahead and apply!
This is a guest post by Amreen Ayub
Amreen graduated from the University of Kent in 2015 with a Bachelor’s degree in Law. She went on to do the Legal Practice Course with a Master’s of Science in Law, Business and Management at the University of Law and graduated in 2016. She is currently a postgraduate student at the Law School of Tanzania.
You can connect with her on LinkedIn on www.linkedin.com/in/amreenayub