If you talk to recent graduates, most will tell you the same thing — uni will be over and done with before you know it. You’ve barely settled into your course, then next thing you know you’re picking your final subjects and applying for graduate positions. Whether you’re in first year or final year, there are a few things you should do before you graduate.
Tailor your degree to your interests
Depending on the course you are studying, electives, majors and double degrees provide an opportunity for you to pursue just about any study area that’s of interest. Remember that you don’t always have to choose subjects from your prescribed program structure; you can also look outside your school or faculty — perhaps you want to pursue a language elective as a maths student or delve into cultural studies during your business degree. This is your chance to study a few fun subjects to break up your degree, or even determine what type of work you want to pursue after graduation or if you’re going to head into further study.
There are an endless number of benefits to studying overseas — you get to experience life in another country, gain independence, meet new people and travel, and it looks great on your résumé when you’re competing for work in the graduate job market. With the number of exchange agreements between institutions — plus the availability of scholarships and OS-HELP — there really is nothing stopping you from heading overseas for a semester or two. See Study abroad and student exchange for more information.
Complete an internship
Students in fields such as health and education know all too well how crucial it is to gain work experience, but internships have their benefits no matter what you’re studying. They allow you to get your foot in the door and learn more about your desired industry, and also give you the chance to narrow down career options while you’re still at uni, which can save you from applying for jobs later down the track that you’ll end up hating. Although internships are usually unpaid, you may find that they lead to paid employment — in the same company or elsewhere. Showing that you have experience in the industry and have taken initiative to secure an internship can help you stand out from other graduates when you start looking for work.
Chances are that your classmates will one day be the people you work and deal with frequently in your industry of choice, so make friends! You may find that the person you sat next to in your first-year media class will get you an interview for that dream journalism position in five years’ time. The same goes for your tutors and lecturers — many of them are seasoned industry professionals, so don’t be afraid to ask them for advice or see if they can put you in contact with someone in the field.
Join a club or society
One thing that graduates tend to regret is not getting involved on campus. This could be anything from joining a sports team to writing for the student magazine, volunteering for a cause or organisation close to your heart, or simply joining the chocolate (or beer) appreciation club. There are also opportunities for leadership, such as running for a position in the student union or even starting your own club. See your guide to student clubs and societies and consult your institution’s student services team for more information.