20/08/2014 10:20 BST | Updated 20/08/2014 10:59 BST

Things To Do Now You're In Second Year

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Approaching second year may mean waving goodbye to your ‘I only need forty percent!’ get-out clause but, thankfully, the dark days of the dissertation are not upon you yet. Here are our tips for a successful year two.

Visit the careers department

There’s no need to have fully formed ideas about what you want to do post-uni just yet, but booking a careers appointment can be positive way to make a start – even if it just means finding out more about the career paths that are out there.

University of East Anglia careers adviser Justine Mann suggests: "Talking things through with someone who is entirely focused on you and lacking in any agenda (unlike a parent or friend) can really help you to clarify your thinking."

She adds: "The big decision about what to do is yours but a careers adviser can help to structure your soul searching. They can help you understand the process of getting experience and making contacts, providing reassurance and a helpful framework to see it through. They also have a wealth of knowledge of certain sectors and networks of contacts to help you with your next steps."

Host a house party

We’re sure you don’t need our encouragement but, now you’re no longer living in halls, the opportunity to have a good night out in the comfort of your own home (drinking your own reasonably priced booze…) is one you can’t afford to pass up.

Avoid hungover washing up and possible damage to your housemate's favourite mug by picking up some plastic cups from your local pound shop. You can thank us later.

Set up work experience

Even if it only teaches you what it is you don’t want to do, work experience is the best way to start making decisions about life after uni.

Adam Bennett, a second year Journalism student at the University of Roehampton, is a political communications intern in Nick Clegg’s Westminster office.

Adam says: "I do a lot of political research, and I've learnt a lot about what information is worth digging for, how to find it and how to use it in the most effective way for the broadest audience possible, something that can be applied to a lot of fields, not just politics!"

Adam is confident that interning will provide him with transferable skills. He adds: "It’s going to be essential to get a little bit extra in addition to your degree. Firstly, so that you can put it on your CV but, more importantly, so that you actually have the experience to, with any luck, hit the ground running when you do start your first 'proper' job."

Many work experience opportunities like Adam’s are advertised online. Sites like GoThinkBig post placements ideal for students and a great place to find opportunities with big companies.


Shy of winning the lottery, this is probably the most free time you ‘ll ever have while still enjoying a source of income (even one as paltry as your student loan!). There are countless opportunities for students to volunteer whether it’s through university organisations like Nightline, local charities or even opportunities abroad.

Tom Grand, a history student at the University of Oxford, began tutoring GCSE students and working with a number of other student-run charities during his second year.

He says: "It was really rewarding and fun and I'm definitely doing it next year too. There were also a load of opportunities to help with the running of the charity - and a lot of socials. It helped me develop a load of skills in areas I hadn't even considered."

Tom adds: "This has made me consider totally new career areas - such as charity PR - but also employers have really liked these more niche skills (especially the media and PR skills) and they have helped me stand out for even the more traditional jobs that I'm applying for - like teaching."

Make the most of going out

Next year you will have your dissertation, the ‘Should I do a masters?’ debate and choosing your LinkedIn profile photo to agonise over. When you’re cooped up in the library with only Red Bull for company, you’ll wish you'd spent more time on that sticky SU dance floor yelling drunkenly to One Direction (maybe)…