Reflections of a Graduate

Whether you’re just about to start your time at Warwick, midway through, or about to finish, you might want some (hopefully) wise words from someone who was once in your shoes. Read on for the reflections of a recent graduate… By Rachael Davies

I was told before I went to university that it would fly by and I should make the most of every minute. Cliché I know, and I laughed at the sentiment at times when I was slogging through exam season and every hour felt like it dragged. Now that I’ve finished though, it really does seem like my four years disappeared in the blink of an eye. As much a commemorative act for me as a helpful read for you, these are some reflections from a seasoned, wise graduate like myself about my time at Warwick that might help shape your own time.

First year fumbles

An over-arching memory of my first year at university is of being extremely nervous of making any mistakes. I’ll give you one insight that will shock you – I made many, despite my best efforts. And I wish I had made more. Joining the lacrosse team, for example, would probably have been a disaster for my uncoordinated self. But perhaps my chat with the lovely girl at the freshers fair could have been the start of a glowing sporting career – who knows?

Your first year is prime time to try out new things, whether that’s in a social, extracurricular, or academic sense. It might seem like the first year is when you need to do everything right to set a good foundation, but I firmly believe that pushing your boundaries and potentially messing up on a small scale can teach you more and set you up better than working for a mythical perfect start.

Give yourself a break in first year and the space to find your feet, and you’ll be far more mentally relaxed and prepared to take on later years.

Second year scrutiny

By the time you’ve completed your first year at Warwick, you’ll probably have the day-to-day life routine sorted. Once you’re feeling comfortable, it’s a good time to really start thinking about what comes next. You don’t need to have all the answers, but some consideration can be helpful.

I made sure to use the long university holidays to explore some career options. Many smaller companies in and around Leamington Spa and Coventry take on work experience students and might even pay expenses or more. All it takes is one email, and you don’t have anything to lose. Even if you have no clue what a future career might look like for you, second year is still far enough away from graduation that you can try things out with less pressure. Even final year and after doesn’t need a concrete decision in my opinion – the average person changes jobs 12-15 times in their career, so your first one is unlikely to be one you’re stuck with forever.

Investing time earlier in your university career will also help inform decisions during your final year. You’ll also then have potential dissertation stress and final exam worries to contend with – make life easier for yourself and spread the learning process out across your university career.

Final year farewell

There will always be a lot going on during final year, so don’t worry about feeling overwhelmed – everyone does and manages to survive anyway. The key thing I took from my last year at Warwick was the art of not comparing myself to others. Some people are focused on a set career after university, some on their studies, and some to purely enjoying their last year of being a student. Whatever works for you is the best plan of action, regardless of what friends, flatmates, or coursemates might be doing.

Think about what you wanted from the start of your degree and tick off any last bucket list items. A lot of final year can feel very focused on the future, so try and make some time to enjoy the present. There’s time after university to think about what comes next, but there’s only one chance to enjoy your last Pop.

Above all, remember that your university career is your own and won’t look the same as anyone else’s. That may mean that some of my reflections aren’t relevant even – the beauty of university is that there is space for everyone if they seek it out. Shape it into what you want it to be, and you can’t go too far wrong.

 

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Cover image: dawn-graduates-throwing-hats-dusk-1840298 /Pexels / CC0 1.0

Image 1: Author’s own

Image 2: mistake-spill-slip-up-accident-876597 /stevepb / CC0 1.0

Image 3: magnifying-glass-sheet-desk-map-626174 /Angelo_GiordanoCC0 1.0

Image 4: suitcase-girl-leaving-child-person-1412996 / josealbafotos / CC0 1.0

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