Between arriving back home from Study Abroad and starting lectures again in Leicester, my housemates have been stressing frantically over exam season while my most productive role in this period could have just been perfecting my tea making game for 6 exam-stressed housemates and myself.
Like most pre-entering-the-job-market students, I often criticise myself with not doing enough to make myself ‘employable’. The amount of opportunities available at uni is endless and it can often feel like you need to put aside all your personal needs and take on everything that is offered to you. Not knowing what you want to do at this stage can also feel like the worst possible thing at this point. You’re pushed with the idea that you have just three years (or less) to cram in internships and volunteering and work experience all tailored to your ideal career route, but if you don’t know what you want to do, should you just give up, or just settle for a career and roll with that? All things that can run through the mind of a student whose previously distant and faraway thoughts of graduating and having to find a job are starting to become a reality.
Don’t get me wrong, these years during your undergraduate degree are perfect for building experience, but if you do leave uni still unsure about what you want to do with your life, your time isn’t just up. You’ve still got your entire life to try things out and get the experience necessary to satisfy you that you’re finally on a track you’re happy with. Because while things like internships and other work experience do improve your CV and your potential career prospects, the experience is for you before it’s for your CV, so just make sure you’re doing something you want to do, not just something you think you should do.
For me, although at the time it didn’t feel like a blessing, due to my semester abroad in America I was lucky enough to have all of my exams spread out throughout first term this year in the form of midterms and finals etc, leaving me with some blessed free time this January. Although I spent a little more time than I care to mention catching up with important TV shows, I also used the time to pursue volunteering options for the Criminal Justice Fast Track (which I will talk more about in a later post), catch up with the UK lectures I missed (I like Criminology a lot) and I joined the Cheer society. Last year, I was lucky enough not to have summer exams so instead of staying home watching Netflix every day, I got a job for two months.
My point is to illustrate that more often than not, it’s worth it to push yourself to try new things, even if it’s outside your comfort zone, but also not to go overboard and have no time for yourself. It’s all about finding the opportunities that will make you feel good about yourself and what you’re doing.
I personally ended up hating the job I got, but it taught me so much about myself that I can now trust I’m closer to figuring out exactly what I do and don’t ultimately want to do. I also found it really challenging to push myself to join Cheer halfway through the year, when friendships are already formed and I knew no one and I wasn’t sure whether I’d have the level of commitment to attend 6 hours a week practices plus performances, but I really enjoy it and having it go well is actually making me feel really good about myself. It also shows that it’ s never too late to try something new; a rough start in Freshers (I didn’t join any societies in First Year) doesn’t mean your best chance is over. As for the volunteering I’m hoping to start – for me, it’s an opportunity to find my ideal career more than anything, as I am an example of one of those people with no clear idea what they really want to do with their life. I’m even considering applying for a travel scholarship possibly for study of Psychology or History and for an internship in a Press Office – not obviously Criminology related!
But that is the perfect thing I’ve found about Leicester – whatever you want to try, there’s always something for you (hence the endless opportunities I mentioned earlier) and you’re always encouraged to do it.