The first year of university is a transitional phase in itself - moving from the comforts of home where most things are paid for, the complicated aspects of life are taken care of and dinner is cooked for you, to being left to your own devices in everyday life and making your own decisions. But I imagine you, like me, soon got into the swing of things and quickly adapted to the independent life, coming out of the year having made many new friends and, most importantly, passing your exams! Now your thoughts are probably headed towards a holiday somewhere sunny, which is fair enough because you deserve it, and you have so much spare time before you have to go back! Regardless of whether your course offers a placement year (after second year) or not, and whether you decide to opt for that (given the choice) or not, second year is a step up. So unfortunately it’s time for less partying and more studying when you get back - that’s not to say that you can’t still go out or do activities on a regular basis, because it’s well known that breaks from studying are an important part of a balanced, healthy lifestyle! Just bear in mind that the workload will increase and become more important no matter what course you’re on!
For those of you opting for a placement year in the industry before completing your final year, second year is the time when you have to apply for that placement - it’s worth noting that if you’re reading this as a Fresher, first year exam results are the only results prospective companies can judge you on when you apply. One of my best friends went on a placement year and based on his experiences he said, “Applying early on, or at least getting yourself ready to apply early on, is the best way to approach the application process because it’s possible that the assignments might pile up. You could get really busy with revision when the companies are advertising and end up having no time to apply, which could mean losing out on the opportunity to work with your dream company for the year! So if you’re serious about getting a placement don’t ease into the year, start searching for the companies that best suit your interests and make sure you read up on them and make notes - this will help you massively when it comes to writing cover letters!”
For those of you who just want to get into the working life as soon as possible or aren’t considering a placement year, you should make use of the time you’re not spending trying to get a placement to bump up those grades and set yourself up for an ‘easier’ second/final year, so why not try and get the best grades you can before it gets harder? Remember that in the final year you’ll have a dissertation to worry about (another blog post altogether!) so it’s definitely worth putting in the time before final year comes along!