After four years here at Plymouth, including a year on placement working for the university, the time has come to reflect on my time here; to think about what I've learned, and how that can be applied to the future. My experiences have varied year by year, and I've learned a lot about various subjects and topics. Here are just a few of my take-aways:
Don't be scared to say yes to new things
Trying new things is the only way to find out if you're going to enjoy them. Heading into university, I didn't have a clear idea in my head of exactly what I wanted to do, but I did have a general idea. By throwing myself into new challenges, I've been able to experience new things and develop more of an understanding for what sort of work I'm more likely to enjoy and be good at.
For me, this included the opportunity to partake in practical consultancy projects for real clients in the first and second years of my Business course. This provides an advantage over the standard coursework options, as practical experience lets you apply theory to real life. This experience is what employers are looking for, and it helps you to build general confidence too.
Quality, not quantity
I've noticed that the amount of time I put into a piece of coursework doesn't necessarily determine the overall grade. Rather, it is the quality of the work I do. It's the efficiency with which I use my time and the effectiveness of my research. An overall understanding of a topic will allow you to write everything you need to in an exam or piece of coursework more succinctly, thus saving you time - so do you research before you start writing!
This seems to apply to multiple areas of life. I did not apply to too many placements during my second year for fear of spreading my efforts too thinly. Rather, I focused most of my attention on preparing comprehensively for the type of role I was most interested in, and I secured my ideal position. I'm not suggesting putting all your eggs in one basket, but if you're applying to dozens of internships or jobs, do pause to ask yourself if you're putting sufficient effort into these many applications.
Don't waste time
Even if you're just starting your course now, it will honestly be over in a flash. Make sure you use all the time you have to your best potential. It's easy to waste hours of time without even realising it, scrolling through Facebook looking at memes. As unfathomably excellent as memes continue to be, cutting down time spent on social media will allow you to be more productive. Try channelling this time into learning a new skill, which you could potentially even charge for if you get good enough.
Alternatively, spend your time creating on social media, rather than consuming. If you develop a following with a blog or an Instagram account, you could be looking at monetisation options such as sponsorships down the line.
These are just a few of the lessons I've learned throughout my time at the University of Plymouth, but there have of course been many more which we don't have time to go over here. Feel free to add your own reflections in the comments if you have anything you'd like to share with this year's new students!
Talk soon people,