Five things I wish I had done at university but didn’t

Nov 4, 2014

Graduate Michelle Nelly shares five mistakes she made while at university – so other graduates don’t make the same ones.

University is a big part of many people’s lives and usually referred to as ‘the time of your life.’ However, not everyone can relate to this feeling, as some do not make the most of this opportunity of a lifetime. This is why hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Here are five things I wish I had done whilst I was at university but did not:

1) I wish I had done a year’s placement

Funnily enough, before I went to university I was so keen on doing a placement that I applied for a sandwich course as part of my degree. This usually means after your second year and before your third year, you will get to take a year out of university either to work for a year or study abroad. This all seemed good and well until I realised it wasn’t easy to get a placement and even harder as I wanted to do this placement abroad despite not speaking another language popular in most countries. Because of this, I gave up and decided to go into my third year instead. This was definitely a regret of mine as doing a placement before the end of one’s studies gives students an edge over other graduates who have overlooked this opportunity. This is because nowadays many employers want graduates who not only finish university with a good degree but also someone who knows how to behave in a professional environment or has knowledge of their chosen field.

2) I wish I had got to know my lecturers

During my time at university I made the mistake of not getting to know my lecturers till the last minute. I occasionally spoke to them after lectures but did not get to know them well enough to engage in more personal conversations. However, in my final year, I realised the importance of getting to know your lecturers especially as many lecturers are more than happy to help students with how to successfully complete their modules – which was common sense really as no teacher likes to see his or her pupils fail. By failing to build such a relationship with your lecturers, I realised you could only do yourself harm because regardless of you attending their classes or not, they still get paid whilst you as a student do not make good use of your tuition fees.

3) I wish I had done a summer internship

After failing to do a placement, I managed to do a week of work experience in a public relations company. This made me realise that there are numerous ways students can set themselves apart from the crowd especially if doing a year’s placement does not seem like an option. An alternative to a placement year can be a summer internship, which is another way of gaining valuable work experience and setting yourself out from the crowd. Sometimes students forget that their summer holidays are three months, which is more than enough time to take part in an internship. Despite some internships being unpaid, making them an unattractive option for students, to an employer this demonstrates a sense of commitment and thirst for knowledge.

4) I wish I had made the most of university facilities

Every university has an abundance of facilities on offer to its students but not every student makes the most of such facilities. Every time I attended a lecture, I walked passed an amazing library with an abundance of material that was always available for me to borrow. Other facilities within the university that I felt like I did not make the most of were the student support hubs and on-campus jobs. By making the most of what my university offered, I would have been able to better place myself for the work world.

5) I wish I had chosen the right group mates

A large proportion of my modules was achieved by group work. More often than not, students pick group members based on their friendship groups and unfortunately I fell into that stereotype. It is always better to work with those who will push you to do better rather than working with friends for friendship sake instead of focusing on yourself and your grade. Since employers are now looking for prospective employees who can work well in teams, universities are becoming more aware of this and incorporating this in many modules.

Despite the things I wish I had done at university, I do not regret any of my experiences as you live and learn. It is a part of life but hopefully my experiences of what I could have done but did not do will make you open your eyes to the opportunities you may not be realising and make the most of it while you have time.

Find out how Graduate Coach can help you develop the employment advantage you need to get the job you want by making the most of your time at university.

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