Advice

Freshers Advice | What You Need To Know For Your First Year at Uni

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If you’re a regular reader here, then you’ll know that I love to share any bits and pieces of advice I can give based on the experiences I’ve had. Recently, I’ve been reminiscing about life as a fresher (for those outside the UK who may not be familiar with the term, a fresher is just someone in their first year of university). The general view is that freshers are pretty crazy – they club, they party, they don’t study and they take no responsibility for their actions. If there was a spectrum of the different types of freshers you get from sensible to absolutely insane – I would place my fresher self firmly in the middle. I was concerned about my career and my exams, however I was also very concerned about partying and living up to some of my fresher expectations. I am a completely different person now than I was in my first year of university, and thought I would share some tips in hindsight for anyone who may have university around the corner, or just anyone who wants to reminisce with me! These are a few of my top fresher tips (with personal antidotes in there also)…

 

1. Ladies, be wary who you give your time to

I grew up in a quiet town bordering London and Kent amongst a good amount of people who thought making racial jokes was err… ‘banter’. It goes without saying that growing up I was never really a girl who receiving much attention. When I started uni – now living in central London, a busy city filled with a diverse bunch of people – and started going out, I was completely not used to received attention – and let any attention get to my head. I was absolutely lost in the sauce and enjoyed the attention so much that I would end up giving my number out to anyone that asked so long as they weren’t too weird. Often I wouldn’t even have any intention of really talking to these people, and I’d either not reply to them or try and bluntly end any coversations started – but it led over time to a collection of blocked numbers being built up on my Whatsapp. And now, having been a graduate for almost a year, these poor choices still sometimes come back to haunt me. For example, someone I once gave my number to in my first ever week of uni (I’m talking winter 2013!), tried to send a catch up message to me the other day. After ignoring and blocking, he proceeded to somehow locate my Instagram, like about 20 of my photos and even follow me. It goes without saying, I blocked him there too, but I couldn’t help but shake my head about the fact that I a decision over three years old was still coming back to knock on the door. Ladies – instead of seeking attention, seek confidence. Personally I believe that if you’re a lot more secure and happy with yourself you will not need to seek attention in order to feel good.

 

2. Shop around different industries for jobs

The way the corporate world is set up, if you decide to try out a certain industry, say through an internship (the most common route these days), it’s not uncommon to for the situation to quickly change from an internship to a job. For example, at LSE, people tend to go into one of the three following industries: investment banking, consulting/other professional services (think the ‘big 4’ – PwC, Deloitte…) and law. I’m not going to lie to you and say that from the age of three I knew I wanted to be an investment banker – actually when I started uni I had no clue what I wanted to do. Through listening to others, I pegged banking and consulting as two industries I thought sounded interesting. My first application was to an investment bank, some time later I was called in to interview, and then before you knew it I was offered a one week spring internship (I’ve got a post with tips on securing an internship on the way!) After the one week, I was ‘fast tracked’ to the assessment centres of two investment banks (including the one I interned at), I got one of them, did a 9-week summer internship, then was offered a job at the end and bam – now here I am, 6 months deep. I have no regrets in my decision and actually think that things happened to fall into place very efficiently, even in terms of the team I ended up in, however as you can see – everything accelerated and a path was laid out for me after I got my first internship. I’ve spoken to many people that say they wished they had tried out other industries before settling into wherever they ended up; I’m a strong believer that the door doesn’t close on you unless you allow it to – if you find yourself unhappy in a job, you always have the capacity to get up and switch, but I also think you should remain mindful when completing all of these internships such that you don’t end up somewhere one day and wonder how you took your eyes off the ball.

 

 

3. Taking time to get to know new people properly

When I started university I was way too quick to call a bunch of people that I’d known for three months my best friends. In fact I was so infatuated with this interesting new group of people that I’d met that I started to convince myself that I’d ‘changed’ in comparison to my old school friends, and that these people that I ‘d known for three months were about to be my life-long dargsss. Granted, a lot of the people that I met throughout uni and even in the first few months of uni I really do consider to be my life long dargsss and I’m still in good contact with. But very quickly throughout my first and second year I started to realise that I had to calm down with all the excitement regarding the new people I’d met, and be careful who I put my trust into. The first time I realised this was a few months into my first year, I decided to go out with a group of girls that I had met in my first week. I ended up having one too many drinks that night, and took myself home early. The next day when talking to one of the girls about how great her night was, I found it funny to find that she didn’t even realise I had left the club. If something had have happened to me that night – none of the girls I went out with would’ve cared or even known. That was the last day I went out without at least one of my closer friends there. That stands out to me of one of the defining ‘be careful who you trust’ moments, but I definitely had a few more over the course of uni especially in my second year. It’s always good to be practical and see things on a bigger scale – it is true that you will likely walk away from uni having made some life long friends, but you should also take a bit of time to get to known these people and build up your trust in them before you assume you’ve met you soul-sisters (or brothers).

 

4. Put yourself out there

Some people see university as a waste of time if it won’t benefit you greatly in your career – which is fair enough. However I see university as a lot more than what is considered the direct route into a corporate job. It is in university that I really started to grow and develop – I walked out with knowledge in a lot more than just Accounting, Finance and Econ – I learned more about world history, I discovered self-development, fell in love with entrepreneurship and even walked out with some new found views on religion and more specifically my own beliefs. One thing I pushed myself to do, starting from the time I was a fresher, was step out of my comfort zone. Be it in terms of making friends (university forces you to enhance your social skills as you just end up meeting new people almost every day – work continues to build on this), getting involved in extra curricular activities (in my first year I ran for and got a place in the LSE Women in Business society, which was actually the society on campus with the most corporate sponsorship – i.e. moolah – at the time. I also ran and got a place in the LSE Young Leaders society which died a sad and slow death the following year..), or anything else under the spectrum. You are not growing if you’re stuck in your comfort zone – and starting a brand new university is one of the best excuses to start pushing yourself outside of the norms you are used to. Even years down the line now, this is something I always try to be mindful of.

 

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