Make your final year count

Who better to write our first post heralding the new term and (gasp!) final year, than Natasha Clark – finalist, soon-to-be-graduate and editor of The Boar…

It’s getting to that point where most of us are back at university. All the important things have been done; lie-ins, holidays, watching too much Olympic coverage, and for some of us, jobs and placements.

natasha_clark-190End of an era

Final year – what a daunting phrase. The end of an era – three years of your life studying the same subject, in the same place, with the same people. Yet by the end of your time at Warwick, you’ve been given incredible opportunities, met lots of new people, done plenty of new things… you’ve heard it all before. You’ve probably done it all already.

It’s time to prepare for what ‘Real Life’ has to throw at us, luckily we’ve got a year to do it. Soon, essays and reports will be squeezed into our schedules amid interviews, applications and assessment centres, and we’ll be sick of answering the question “So what have you got planned for after you graduate?”

Decisions, decisions

Unfortunately, I’ve come to the realisation that it’s incredibly difficult to plan a career in journalism. Do I go for a Masters degree (parting with £9000 in the process), go for an NCTJ short course (a 9-5 intensive three month course to train to be a reporter), or dive straight in to the job market, applying for jobs at newspapers, news agencies, and anywhere else I can think of. The best and worse thing is that there’s no right or wrong way to go from here, leaving us at an important crossroad.

Final year also comes with the panic that childhood is over, and this year actually counts for something. Reading week might actually be spent reading this year, as opposed to that cheeky mini-break to Barcelona. Christmas will be a odd mixture of eggnog and presents combined with planning long essays and exam topics (well, in theory). Come Easter we’ll be scoffing down eggs in the hope that it gives us enough energy to force our eyelids open while we scramble together 10,000 words on some obscure topic we know nothing about. Quick, to the library.

The clock is ticking…

So how should we get ready for the most important year in our university life, and the last before we have to figure out the real meanings of interest rates and down payments?


It’s time to pay a visit to your trusty internet friend Warwick insite and check out the reading lists for next year. Haul yourself out of bed and start thinking about next year’s modules. Go on, give it a try!

Dust off your CV and update it with what you’ve been doing; if you’re stuck, pay a visit to Careers and Skills and find out how to polish those applications. Attend careers fairs and talk to recruiters and graduates working in the field you’re considering going into. Consider which topics you might do for your exams before you get around to revision time. Perhaps not today or tomorrow, but this is not the year to leave everything until the last minute. Start thinking about your assignments when you start the module, not the week before your deadline.

Work hard

So it’s your last year with all your mates, what better excuse to party as much as possible, yes? When it’s also the final year of the degree that’s going to stay on your CV for the rest of your life, think again. Don’t become a social recluse, but do think about giving up the third night out this week in favour of revision for that test tomorrow. Withthe majority of graduates coming out of university with a 2.1, most employers will only consider applicants with this classification and above. You get out what you put in – if you want a good grade, you’ll have to work for it.

Of course, it’s more than just university work that you’ll need to focus on in order to stand out in final-year. Extra curricular activities are vital to bump up your CV and prove to graduate recruiters you’ve demonstrated the skills they’re looking for. Everyone’s got a degree, what differentiates you from the rest of the class of 2013? Consider spending the next few holidays looking for work experience and placements in fields you are interested in, it displays initiative and determination. For most grad recruiters, experience counts. You can research companies online, use any spare time(!) you’ve got to compile a persuasive covering letter. If you haven’t already, join a society or club that interests you and get more involved in activities that could be relevant to your career.

Enjoy it

Warwick is a fantastic university. I don’t need to tell you that, you’re already here. Take advantage of everything that university life has to offer you. Whether it’s attending an applications session to smarten up your CV, or joining a sports club that you’ve always wanted to try, this is your last chance. Plus, what employers really love to see is that you’re a confident, independent and well-rounded person, and by getting involved in as many things as you can and having a great time, you’ll develop into the people that will be hired in any discipline. But be sure to savour every last spring stroll around Jepson Gardens and pint at the Duck – in a little under a year’s time, one of them will be your last.

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