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How to make the most of second year!

By Jessie Willans on Wed 13 February 2019 in Placement Blog

Not sure what to expect during your second year at Uni & not too sure how to go about any of it? Don't worry! We know it's tough, but trust us & follow this monthly guide to help you make the most of it!

Hi guys, it's Jessie & Amber here! 

As third year placement students, we completely know how hard University can be, especially when it comes to handling deadlines, attending class & making sure you still actually have a social life! We've been through the stress of second year, and whilst it was tough, we gradually managed to figure out the best ways to handle all of the different things that were thrown at us.

Now on reflection & to give you a head start, we want to share our top tips to help you get through your second year & basically, absolutely smash it! Month by month we list all the important things you'll need to get done, as well as some top tips to help you work through it. You can do it, just believe in yourself & as hard as it can be, remember to try & stay positive! 

So, let's begin... 

September – Welcome back!

Say goodbye to Mum’s home-cooked meals, the time to go back to Uni has arrived. By now you’ll be settled into the swing of university life and can go back as a knowledgeable second-year student! Whilst the first couple of weeks are all fun and games, it’s also good to have applications in the back of your mind, so when the time to apply comes around (and it does come around quickly!), you’ll be prepared:

Top Tips:

  1. Don’t miss the first week of lectures!
    It may be fun to go out pretending you’re a fresher all over again, but the reality is, you’re not (sorry to break it to you!). By all means go out and have fun, but those first lectures are important, and second year does actually count towards your degree - go into it feeling prepped and organised.
  2. Create a work timetable
    You could do this on a weekly, or daily basis - whatever works for you! Getting into the swing of things with a timetable to follow means you can aim to stick to a working day, and still give yourself time off for extra-curricular activities (or those all-important afternoon naps!)

October – Careers Fairs, CVs & Cover Letters

Whilst the busiest time for placements is around Dec/Jan, some companies will be opening applications for their roles this month, and it tends to be the bigger ones! If you’re still completely unsure about anything sandwich year related, don’t panic. Your Uni will be holding a careers and/or freshers fair around this time, and these are there to help students see what’s out there, network with employers and get some free pens, of course!

Top Tips:

  1. Get your smart clothes on!
    Whilst you may think anything other than a hoodie, jeans and trainers is a no-go whilst at Uni, meeting employers at careers fairs might make you think otherwise. Whilst this doesn’t apply to all companies (do your research!), some may expect you to dress smart if you work there, so it’s best to make the effort for your first impression!
  2. Create a spreadsheet for your applications
    Placement and internship applications have various stages you must pass before the end goal of securing one, and when you’re in the midst of applying for lots at the same time, it can become a bit confusing. Creating a spreadsheet so you can see all your deadlines, tests, etc. in one place will help you a lot…trust me!

November/Jan – Interviews & Online Tests

Around this time, you are likely to be in the online tests or interview stages of some of your applications. Whether that be telephone, video, or face-to-face, the premise is the same and employers want to see whether you’d be a good fit for their company! The big deadlines are 31st of both Dec and Jan, so your Christmas hols, although relaxing, would be a good time to get some applications done whilst you’ve got some free time.

  • Psychometric/online test stages (see blog here for how to prepare)
  • BIG deadlines around the 31st Dec and 31st Jan
  • Interview stages!

Top Tips:

  1. Practise makes perfect!
    You may be in the middle of your applications, and feel like you are getting rejected left, right and centre. But honestly, don’t worry! The more applications you do, the more you can get used to the process and tailor it to different companies.
  2. Ask for feedback
    Off the back of the previous tip, another way to continually improve is by working on yourself. Whilst not all employers will offer feedback at the preliminary stages, it’s always worth asking!

February – Assessment Centres & Interviews

 By now, most deadlines for applications have closed and you’ll be feeling a huge sense of relief – you can finally take a well-deserved break! Applying for placements is super stressful, so make sure you take some time to congratulate yourself for getting through them all – you did it! Whilst a lot of applications have ended, the next step is preparing for Assessment Centres. I know it’s tiring to even think that there’s another stage in the placement process, but don’t worry, these are the fun parts!

But you may be thinking, “wait, what if I haven’t secured an Assessment Centre or offer yet?” Don’t panic! Whilst a lot of deadlines have closed by now, there are still so many other companies that are open for applications. So, keep your head high, keep going and don’t give up. Lots of students secure their placements much later in the year, so don’t worry if you haven’t got an offer yet – it will come!

  • Assessment Centres: These are a chance for you to show off who you are, so check out the top tips below and you will absolutely fly through the day! Take it step by step, keep calm and just enjoy it.
  • Interviews: These often take place during the Assessment Centre or after that and is a chance for you and the employer to properly get to know each other!

Top Tips:

  1. Prepare
    Do your research on the company and ensure you know why you want to work for them! Showing a genuine interest in what they do as well as enthusiastically highlighting your ambition to work for them will go a long way.
  2. Visit your Careers Office
    The careers office is there for a reason! It’s so worth visiting your career advisors to help you prepare for your interviews & Assessment Centres. They’re packed with knowledge and tips, so no matter what you need support with, they’ll be able to help!
  3. Be yourself!
    Employers want to see your personality! Show off who you are and all your characteristics. This will help you both decide if you would work well together. Employers love honesty – so present all your quirks & simply just be you!
  4. Practice your presentations
    Definitely rehearse your presentations so you can confidently express your points, without looking down at notes. A lot of Assessment Centre presentations have a time cap on them, for example, if the company states the presentation should be 5 minutes, then make sure it is! Show them your great time management & organisational skills as this will help you be concise!
  5. Enthusiastically participate in group tasks
    You must make sure you are doing something! Show that you can engage with team members, express your point of view logically and have an approachable attitude. Employers want to see your interest in the task and fellow candidates, so have a positive outlook and actively participate! Listen to every team member carefully as this will highlight better leadership skills instead of giving instructions imperatively! Be diplomatic, polite & avoid the temptation to criticise or intrude.

March – Coping with Final Coursework Deadlines

You have one final push until Easter break and a few more deadlines to go! Follow these top tips to help you stay on top of your assignments, ace your coursework & feel confident!

  • Coursework: This often carries on throughout the academic year, and now the placement process has settled down a little, it will enable you to really focus on acing your coursework. If you have coursework going on in the background during placement applications, create a schedule to help you balance the two!

Top Tips

  1. Make a schedule
    By creating a mini calendar it will really help you to stay on top of things! This schedule will include all your important deadline dates, plus the ‘pre-production’ deadlines you need to meet for things like research, meetings & planning. Pin this schedule up in your room and include all different module dates on there – sometimes colour coding can be super helpful here. This will enable you to see everything in a consolidated view to maximise your productivity!
  2. Make detailed plans for each piece of coursework
    To avoid falling behind on your coursework, make yourself a detailed plan for each assignment to understand how much work you actually need to do. Big assignments can’t really be completed efficiently in 2 days! So, take small steps day by day, and complete different sections on time. Plan what you need to do to successfully complete the coursework – this could include scheduled times to undertake research, visiting your tutor and organising team meetings. Remember to not over work yourself, so once you’ve completed your task, take a well-deserved break!
  3. Avoid distractions
    Make sure you use your study time for studying! Although it’s tempting to check your phone and have ‘revision’ sessions with your friends, sometimes these end up not being so productive…we’re all guilty of that! So, make sure if you’re working solo or with a revision buddy, get rid of all distractions & use that time specifically for studying – quiet and well-lit spaces are the best. You can schedule nice breaks in-between to help reduce procrastination!
  4. Ensure you have support
    If you feel like you need a little guidance to kickstart your coursework, or need some support during the process, then make sure you actively seek it. Your University want to help you! Whether you visit your tutor or wellbeing officer, it’s so important you keep yourself happy and healthy during these stressful periods; don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
  5. Reward yourself
    After working super hard on an assignment, you definitely deserve to celebrate! By having a reward to look forward to at the end, it can really help to motivate you. Whichever way you choose to celebrate, it’s important you treat yourself & to rest up!

April – Exam Prep & Internships

Some of you may have secured a placement by now, but if you haven’t, don’t worry! There is still plenty of time to find one and some employers have a longer process than others, so remain positive and keep calm! Over Easter, it’s a great time to focus on your revision and get prepping for your exams.

Also, over the Easter period, you may also find yourself doing an internship! If so, try and learn as much as you can, network with colleagues, keep busy, stay organised and have fun! Make sure in-between revision and working, you make the time for yourself – and eat all that lovely Easter chocolate – plus all the nutritious food, obviously! See below in ‘May/June’ for top tips!

May & June – Exam Season!

So, now it’s that dreaded time of year again…exams have finally crept up on you, the library’s full & everyone is slightly freaking out! Exams come around so quickly, and whilst it’s easy to get super stressed out, it’s important to begin by looking at these things positively! We know University life can be a real challenge, especially as there isn’t a real, set structure to your days. So, to tackle this, it’s important you get yourself into a healthy routine where you make time for your studies, but also yourself. These top tips will really help you guide an optimistic outlook, no matter what challenges are thrown at you.

Top Tips

  1. Make a fun revision plan (Yes, I said ‘fun’!)
    They’re super helpful & really enable you to cover every topic you need to, in plenty of time. The trick is to plan in advance & make sure you don’t over estimate the amount you give yourself! Schedule in fun breaks to ensure you don’t overdo it – giving yourself little rewards in-between. It’ll make your life much easier!
  2. An organised study space is an organised mind!
    However you decide to arrange your study space, make sure it works best for you. Whether you work best in a messier environment, or thrive in a neat space, try and get rid of any distractions or unnecessary clutter that would distract you. Keep your notes organised & often, like I mentioned before, colour coding is really helpful!
  3. Talk through your answers
    Sometimes, writing down pages of notes time after time can become quite tedious & manumatic. Switch revision up by reading through your notes first, then talk yourself through the points out loud to ensure they really stick. By talking through the answers, it allows you to really test & finesse your memory!
  4. Healthy snacks
    As tempting as it is, try to avoid always eating junk food when you’re snacking! Instead, mix it up & make sure you get some nutritious foods into your diet. Fuel your body with fresh food as it will help increase your concentration & memory!
  5. Keep hydrated, not just with coffee!
    Being well hydrated is vital for your brain to function properly. Make sure you’re drinking lots of water during your revision to keep up your energy & to retain important info.
  6. Get support
    The exam season is a tough one; it’s completely normal to be feeling stressed & overwhelmed. It’s so important that you make sure you get external support to make sure you stay healthy, both mentally & physically. Whether you seek support from your friends, family or your University, make sure you surround yourself with positivity. Have someone to guide & encourage you.

July/August – Your first day as a placement!

The time has come for your very first day as a placement! This is such an exciting time for you, all your hard work has paid off and remember that you’ve been chosen because you’re so great! Remember that a placement is the best way to prepare yourself for the working world after Uni, so take every opportunity that comes your way & put your all into everything you do. Hard work and enthusiasm will go a long way, so make sure you make the most of it!

It’s completely OK to be nervous before you first day & it’s normal to feel a little daunted. But we can assure you, the buildup is always worse and as soon as you’re there, you will love it!

Top Tips

  1. Be prepared - Bring a notepad & pen! Make sure you come well-equipped, so you can take any notes or important info down.
  2. Interact & Chat! - Get to know the other placements & those in the company – show interest & have a beaming smile on your face, always!
  3.  First impressions count - Make sure you turn up on time, are suitably dressed and ready to go! Show that you’re friendly, reliable and responsible from the get-go!
  4. Be you! - Remember, you worked super hard to secure this placement & they clearly must love you if you’re there. So, have faith in yourself, be confident and take everything as it comes, remembering to be positive, willing & enthusiastic.
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