setting objectivesTry to set some goals during your first year that relate to your future and more specifically to career plans. SMART targets can be a useful tool to establish relevant objectives and help you track your success.

SMART targets can be applied to many areas of your life and they can be useful to break a large task in to smaller more manageable objectives. SMART targets should be:

  • Specific - Be clear in what you want to do
  • Measurable – Record your baseline knowledge. Later reflect on whether this has increased.
  • Achievable – Is the target feasible to attain or are you being too ambitious?
  • Relevant – Is the target related/applicable to your overall longer-term career aim?
  • Time-bound – When would you like to see results?

The SMART methodology enables you to bring structure to an idea and permits you to track your progress toward success. When establishing SMART targets you may want to ask questions such as; what do I want to achieve; why do I want to do this; how will I do this; where will I do this; when will I do this; who will be involved; what are the limitations; what does success look like and are there alternative approaches?


The following are example SMART targets that could apply to a first year student: 

Setting objectives

Learning to code

(S) I want to develop knowledge of C++ coding language. (M) My current ability is none existent so I would say I am 0/10. (A) I have access to online training tools and some friends in the Computing department. (R) The skill could be appealing to an employer, particularly in a technical industry. (T) I hope to have gained a basic understanding of C++ by Spring/Summer next year.

Joining a student society

(S) I want to be involved in the Musical Theatre society while studying at Imperial. (M) I’ve been involved in school productions so hope to be cast in a role and balance my time so I also pass all my exams.  (A) Auditions are open to all students and rehearsals should fit around my timetable. (R) I’ll gain confidence and be able to demonstrate effective time management which will be useful for any future career path. (T) I hope to secure a role in a production by the end of my first year.

Learning to cook

(S) I want to be able to cook a tasty meal and become more independent as an adult. (M) I’ve never cooked a meal in my life but with practice should be able to cook a delicious meal for my 5 flatmates. (A) I’m in a self-catered hall of residence with a kitchen, I can purchase ingredients and I can get recipes online. (R) I’ll lean a new skill and become more independent as an adult. (T) I plan to have cooked a meal for the flat within the first month of term.

Developing commercial awareness:

(S) I want to establish some contacts with people working in management consulting and gain a better understanding of the industry and job role. (M) I plan to attend at least two management consultancy careers events and hope to meet some useful contacts. I aim to secure a spring insight week. (A) The Careers Service run various events with relevant companies. They also advertise insight weeks for first year students. (R) Any exposure I can get to better understand the industry will assist with my career decisions and future applications. (T) I aim to attend the events and to have applied to an insight week by the end of the autumn term.