How has first term been for you?

As the Christmas holidays approach, it’s time for new students to take stock of a hectic first term and look ahead to 2015.\r\n\r\nFor many of us, that’s a chance to take a breather from a whirlwind of assignments, socialising and generally finding your way around a new city.\r\n\r\nAfter a good few months at uni, you probably have a better idea of where you want to go with your course and potentially how you want to develop your career. If you’ve got a burning ambition to spend a year abroad or just want to enhance your CV, now is the time to start putting those preparations in place.\r\n\r\nSecond year (and second semester) is brimming with opportunities and just because your course doesn’t heavily advertise these, it doesn’t mean that you can’t make the most of them in the New Year.\r\n

Thinking of studying abroad?

\r\nCourses will often have study abroad options or language options which give students the option to study at home or abroad (for example Civil Engineering with French), however they are usually highly competitive and may ask for higher entry requirements than the study at home course.\r\n\r\nIf you’re really keen to spend a year abroad and your main mode of study is in the English language, then this is the time to start breaching those potential second year US/Canada/Australia study placements. You’ll have a much stronger argument if your grades are impressive, so study hard from day one and then raise the topic with your course leader.\r\n\r\nIf you’ve opted for a European language, then this may be the time to decide whether you what to continue studying at your university or go abroad for your second or third year (depending on the length of your course). Try to get organised early and speak to your tutors for advice – in many cases they’ll be set placements at certain universities and they can get snapped up early on.\r\n\r\nYou can find out more about studying abroad in our study abroad Canada/US/Australia and Ireland pages.\r\n

Thinking of taking a working sandwich year/industrial placement?

\r\nMost students don’t know this, but on almost all courses, you can request a year out to undertake a work placement or internship. Even if your degree is three years long and the course description doesn’t outwardly mention work placements, if you can find a great opportunity then your university is likely to approve a sandwich year.\r\n\r\nYou will need to make arrangements as soon as possible though, so get searching and applying for those placement opportunities as soon as you can. Securing a role early in the New Year will allow you to make any necessary plans (i.e. accommodation) and will show your course leader that you’re serious about a year in industry.\r\n\r\nKeep in mind that your university may have conditions in place though, and both your tutors and employer is likely to want to ensure you’re averaging a 2.1 or higher.\r\n

Struggling with your course?

\r\nA while ago we did a post on how to access help when university work gets challenging and it’s fair to say that now is probably time to assess how your course is going. Are there modules you’re struggling to get to grips with or maybe a January exam that’s filling you with fear?\r\n\r\nSpeak to your tutor, head of department or Student Services Department and share your concerns. They’ll be able to help with a range of issues and can help you put an action plan in place.\r\n

New Year’s Resolutions – building a great CV

\r\nEmployers will be impressed by candidates who’ve demonstrated commitment to extra-curricular activities throughout their degree and if you’re researching careers and work placements, first year is the ideal time to start.\r\n\r\nThe summer between first and second year is golden for securing your work placements, travelling if you can and trying to squeeze in paid or voluntary work. That seems like a lot, but most students pick a couple and run with them! Always fancied a career in teaching but aren’t sure what age group you’d like to work with? Look for opportunities (both home and abroad) at summer camps and see if you can help out. Looking for a career in an office based environment (e.g. law, PR, finance)? Even if they don’t advertise opportunities, offering to help out for a few weeks can get your foot in the door and give you an insight into the profession.\r\n\r\nFinally, don’t leave it until second and third year (when your work load will be heavier) to get involved with activities that interest you and build up your CV. Society committee positions are great for building work place skills (i.e. leadership skills).\r\n\r\nWe know right now you’re mostly concerned about mince pies and planning a catch up with your friends at home, but a little prep after your exams finish can help make 2015 your best year yet. If you have any queries about studying abroad or student life in general, please get in touch and we’ll do our best to answer your queries.\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\n