27 Essential Things You Should Be Doing In Your Final Months as a Student
The year you graduate has finally arrived. You’re in your final months as a student and don’t know which way to turn. It’s a liminal space; do you go wild and make the most of your freedoms or prepare heavily for the impending reality check? The best answer? Both. It’s unlikely you’ll be in such a situation again, so it’s time to appreciate it.
1. Make a list of companies you’d ideally want to work for.
Grab a Times Top 100 Employers Book or The Guardian UK 300, choose a sector that even vaguely interests you and write down ten companies. Go on their websites, look at their Graduate Schemes and send an application in. Don’t fear being rejected and don’t invest your entire future into it just do it and get in the application mood. You will only get better with each one.
2. Go to the bars you went to in 1st year.
You won’t be able to do it and get away with it once you graduate, and it’ll distract you from your dissertation/graduation worries. Don’t worry if you end up having a “moment” where you just sit and appreciate “the now” – it happens to everyone.
3. Get a good chair for your bedroom.
Whether it’s applying for jobs, writing dissertations or searching for a stream to watch that movie with what’s-her-face in it, you’re going to need a comfortable chair to rely on, and chances are your landlord hasn’t left with you with the most comfortable seat – if any.
4. Work out your current, average grade and set academic targets.
Each university has its own complex algorithm to decide that two digit number that makes up your grade. Make sure you understand how you are being marked and what your current average is. From there you should consider your remaining deadlines and work out exactly what you want from each. Don’t go in to those exams without a motivation.
5. Take pictures.
Not of yourself posing in the nightclub toilet or of yourself dressed as a devil, but of friends, houses, streets, lecture rooms. Just everything that’ll make you run crying to your parents when you look back on them after graduation.
6. Write a CV. A proper one.
Ditch that thing you wrote in year 11 that starts with, “My name is Dave and I am an organised and hard-working individual.” Check out this template, fill it in professionally and tailor it to the sort of roles you’ll be applying for.
7. Hand an essay in early. Just once.
Who said bucket lists were easy? Be organised, time your work and you’ll have bragging rights for weeks.
8. Make a LinkedIn account.
Just because you worked as a window cleaner during the Easter Break or once did some volunteering for the Duke of Edinburgh award doesn’t mean you don’t warrant a LinkedIn account. Get a high quality photo of yourself, list your skills and your professional (or personal) ambitions and get connected. Just make yourself look legit, the content will come naturally. Here’s a guide on how to build a solid LinkedIn profile.
9. Learn to drive.
Don’t know how to drive yet? Do it. Fitting lessons in around a 9-5 job is more difficult than you can currently comprehend.
10. Prepare an answer to the question: “What will you do next…?”
Although laughing it off the first 30 times is easy, when the question becomes increasingly more frequent you’re going to wish you had cultivated an answer. It is important to have a career area in mind even if you don’t know how to get into it yet.
11. Get to know some job titles.
Which moves nicely into this point. Lots of people think they know industries but, in reality, they don’t. Every Literature student wants to move into Publishing and every student in Computing wants a job in, well, Computing, but what are the actual titles for positions in these fields? Go onto famous companies, look at their vacancy page and take a look at what is on offer and do a bit of reading into it. You’ll sound like you know your stuff in interviews if you do this.
12. Enjoy living independently.
It is unlikely you will bounce from your university house with all of your best friends directly to a new house with all of your best friends. It’s likely you’ll end up back with your parents for a while, so make the most of these freedoms now.
13. Put some thought into where you want to live after graduation.
Perhaps as important as your next career choice is where you want to be living after university – it’s also one of the most exciting parts about job hunting. If you’re feeling East London, then start researching companies – big or small – in that area, if it’s Newcastle, Melbourne or Kyrgyzstan, do the same. A little filtering will make the job search more accessible, otherwise you’ll just be overwhelmed.
14. Visit your friends from home who are living in different cities.
When will you ever have the opportunity to travel the UK with a student railcard, guaranteed free accommodation (even if it is 4 of you in a bed) and a great night out at the end of it? This is one of the greatest student privileges that you should take advantage of immediately – it might also help with the previous point.
15. Ask your favourite tutors to be your reference.
It’ll make that phone call they receive two years down the line a little less surprising, and could also provide a good opportunity for a bit of career guidance. These people have seen their fair share of students come and go, so probably know more than you’d think about what comes next.
16. Watch the ‘Godfather’ Trilogy.
Or any long movie for that matter, you will never have the time do it in real life: ‘Schindler’s List’, ‘Apocalypse Now’, ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’… you know the type.
17. Sit in on a lecture you don’t study, but just have an interest in.
Your university has lecturers and academics from every field imaginable. So if you have a passing interest in pre-Stalin Russian and there is a lecture on Tuesday morning at 9am, just go to it. In the real world this would cost you hundreds.
18. Embrace your final discounted months.
Use all the student discount, you’ll be surprised by how sad you are when it’s gone.
19. Write for a university publication.
Or something similar that is linked to your interests and skills. Student activities like this work wonders on your CV – it’s also the perfect platform to garner some minor campus fame before you leave.
20. Go to those Careers Fairs your university keeps emailing you about.
There is a stigma attached to Careers Events that they’re for people who are too organised and have fully drank the corporate Kool-Aid, but this isn’t the case. It’ll surprise you how welcoming and informed the people behind the company bunting genuinely are. There’ll also be a load of information about fabled things such as graduate schemes and paid internships – you don’t want to graduate to find that the deadlines have passed, so act now. If all else fails, you’ll walk away with some free pens.
21. Revisit your Facebook pictures and privacy settings.
This is the case for all of your social networks: It may have been a laugh in freshers, but no employer wants to see you out for your 18th in Vodka Revs, or falling over on a random Tuesday night because “the spontaneous nights out are always the best!!!”
22. Learn some actual computer skills.
We’re not talking “MS Office proficient” here, because chances are you’re already a natural. Software like Photoshop and InDesign can help anyone looking to get into Marketing/Media/Publishing/Journalism; and coding is an increasingly valuable (and well-paid) skill to have – you have the free time, Google some free courses and get cracking.
23. Make summer plans.
Otherwise the post-university blues will get you.
24. Do an internship, it’s not too late. Or even secure one for after Graduation.
Choosing a career is a tough commitment but with internships you can sample a vocation for a period of time and even if you don’t enjoy it you can translate the experience into your next job application. Send speculative emails (here’s how) to companies, big or small, and get some office experience.
25. Go and speak to your Career Adviser. If you don’t have one, your personal tutor.
Just articulating your skills, ambitions as well as your concerns will be cathartic. It’s their job to listen and help so why not use it while you can? It’s free now, but won’t be after you graduate.
26. Learn how to write a proper covering letter.
Cover letters are becoming increasingly important. It’s no longer just about the experiences you can list on a CV, you also have to articulate why you want to work for a company and why they should hire you. Make it personal but professional and under no circumstances ever should you copy and paste the same cover letter for different jobs. They will know, and it will hurt your chances.
27. And of course: Day drink.
Do it whenever the sun is out. In a park and with a portable BBQ, it’s just not as easy when you have a job.
Basically, enjoy every moment but be conscious of the future. You don’t want to leave university and be left stranded without a plan.
Get ahead of the game now by registering with GradTouch.com and seeing what’s out there. Companies are already looking for 2016 grads – don’t miss out.