As you and millions of young adults begin university life, across the United Kingdom and worldwide, I wanted to offer a handy set of guidance to equip you to make the most of this wonderful chapter of your life.
Congratulations on securing a highly coveted place at Imperial College London and the Business School - I wish you all a wonderful and fulfilling experience as you pursue your dreams!
Building your CV: It pays later to start early
1. Employers who hire graduates from university are looking for key competencies - such as collaboration, time management, decision making, problem solving. Evidence of these competencies can be found throughout your normal uni life - team assignments for modules, playing sports, organising a trip with friends, being part of student union, organising or participating in student events - everything you do can positively count!
2. Join a society or club (or even launch one if you spot a gap!) - it is a great way to meet new people outside your immediate subject of study/cohort and pursue something you are interested in. If you end up in a role in running the society / club, it's a great filler for your CV.
3. Give volunteering a go, especially if you are new to the UK or London, as it will give you an insight into life outside of the student world. Those volunteering in the UK should register with Vinspired (national youth volunteering programme) to get their volunteering efforts officially recognised (50 hours min over 12 months). These certifications are acknowledged by employers and are a great way to give something back to the community and build your CV too.
Academics: the apparent official reason for your uni life
1. Do attend all your seminar and tutorial sessions - it's probably the place where the penny drops from content shared in the lectures. Given the small group sizes, you can really clarify your doubts, reinforce your understanding of the topics. Attendance is usually monitored and sustained absences are likely to be questioned.
2. Regular attendance also allows your tutors to know you better, who can then in the future provide references - for further studies or employment.
3. The mantra while working on your assignments is SAVE, SAVE, SAVE - always back up your work in at least 2 places (PC memory + online/ uni network shared drive or USB). You do not want to make the very painful discovery of losing all your work at 3am, only six hours before your assignment submission deadline.
Employers who hire graduates from university are looking for key competencies - such as collaboration, time management, decision making, problem solving.
New to London? A guide to safety: even when you are having fun
1. Trust your instinct on safety - for the first few months, explore together with friends in groups.
2. Note that in the UK, it is illegal for mini cabs (private taxis which are not the iconic London Black Cabs) to tout for fare - you should never hail a minicab from the streets - only pre- book from reputed firms either via app or telephone.
3. Avoid wearing your university ID card publicly - it gives key information such as your name, your university, which can be used for unscrupulous reasons.
4. When travelling alone late in the evening, you can share your cab details or your “live” location via suitable apps (if you are walking), with a friend, so that they can support you better in the unlikely event of any incident.
The biggest change as you enter university life will be the need to self-govern - there is no one to supervise your life and make sure you achieve your objectives and aspirations. It's all on your very capable shoulders. You are talented and motivated, so I have no doubt you will absolutely ace university.
Hope you find this useful and sets you up for a successful year of university. I encourage you to add your own learnings and observations to this list and share it forward to the next batch of students who will follow in your illustrious footsteps.
My thanks to Carolyne Denzler (MSc Strategic Marketing 2013) to her support with this blog. We are all rooting for you. Good luck!