Alice Whitmore – 3rd year Computer Science
Before I started Uni I was always told “the years fly by”, and that “you need to enjoy yourself” but most importantly I needed to “get involved with as much as possible”. This is something I have definitely tried to do over the last couple of years, and I’m going to show you that you have no excuse not to get involved.
As a 3rd year, I know all the dilemmas 2nd year has in store. My particularly busy week in November 2015 (pictured), will give you an idea of the different opportunities out there. In case you can’t make out my scribbles, I’ll sum up my responsibilities for that week.
To start, I had the fairly standard 14 hours of University contact time, with an extra couple of hours thrown in for a Mock Exam. Then, like most of you have or will have, I fitted in group work meetings. Somehow I found the time for placement year applications; this meant having to prep for a video interview and then an optional ‘Open Lab’ in the robotics department.
On top of this, I dedicated a few hours to the Fashion and Design Society (FAD) where I organise and run Workshops as well as attending other meetings deciding who was going to plan future workshops. I also opted to attend a Student Wellbeing and Landlord Agency meeting (we had a number of issues with our student house in Second year – don’t get me started).
Societies or sports are a great thing to get involved with, both as a member or as part of the committee. There are societies for almost everything you can think of, and you definitely don’t have to be doing the course to get involved. I’m part of the committee for FAD (something I have continued into my 3rd year), and this obviously has absolutely nothing to do with Computer Science! What’s even better is that you’re able to sign up to societies throughout the year and there is no obligation to attend every week
For a few hours a week I volunteered with the Salvation Army, helping out with both their Brownie Pack throughout Second year, as well as occasionally their Kids Club on a Friday. It’s not glamorous but I spent my weekends working at McDonald’s (Yes I did start work at 5.45am!) and squeezed in 6 unpaid hours working through training books to aim for a promotion.
Luckily the University has loads of opportunities for students and can help with everything from finding a job – using the Job Shop – to finding Volunteering opportunities. Volunteering doesn’t have to be a full-time commitment either. They often advertise one-off opportunities either as part of the University or for the outside community. Every hour that you volunteer can be signed off by the Students Union and it adds up to getting a certificate at the end of the year. The certificates range from Bronze (Up to 149 hours) to Platinum (500+ hours), and are a great way to give evidence to employers that you have given up your time!
Then there are everyday things such as shopping, cleaning the house, doing the washing and trying to go to the gym. Overall this adds up to a hell of a week and I certainly don’t recommend doing this every week!
Now, I wasn’t showing this to brag. I was simply showing this to demonstrate that you can get involved and that there is no excuse not to! Everything you do can be mentioned in your CV when you come to face the big wide world at the end of University. Or if you are looking to apply for a Placement year, or if you want to try and apply for the bigger companies; most of them will expect you to get applications in before January of your Second year. Not to scare you, but this only gives First year and then less than 3 months of your Second year to find things to enhance your CV.
This will hopefully show you what’s out there and what getting really involved means. Getting involved with lots of different opportunities will build up planning and organisation skills as you try and manage a full timetable. Therefore, when an employer asks a question about how you can demonstrate these skills, you will have built up several amazing stories to tell!
But alongside any advice I can give I must advise you not to overstretch yourself – this was a particularly crammed week for me, and you will find that being involved with so much will swamp you if you’re not careful. You couldn’t possibly count all of my week as work or not fun, but it builds up really quickly. Find your balance, be involved but don’t forget to enjoy the experience.