I guess when you go on placement you don’t think about how different things will be when you go back to University, it’s not the first thing on your mind. My housemate and I knew it would be a struggle going back to University after placement considering how much we loved working over essay deadlines (sorry Joyce) but I hadn’t considered how weird it would feel. By the time I finished interning in the summer, I had been in 9-5 full-time employment for the longest time in my long 21 years of life (scary, hey). I’d gone straight into an internship from second year, into placement followed by another internship squeezed in at the end. And yes, whilst the transition from a student to an employee was a big one, I’d never really considered that the transition the other way would be that difficult.
‘Enjoy final year, you’ll miss student life once it’s gone’
Going back to student life has been weird. Going from your attendance needed every day, money every month, employee perks to max 12 hours of contact a week, no money and student discount being my biggest perk you could say it’s a tad different. So much spare time. I think that has been the weirdest thing.
I only actually moved into Uni properly two weeks ago but I did feel incredibly lost at the start of this year. It kind of felt like I was on a long break from work and I’d be going back eventually. Having no real time you need to be up by, walk to uni, attend a lecture or seminar for two hours and then the day is all yours. But then again, when you put it like that it sounds pretty dreamy doesn’t it? You get my drift though, having no solid routine was weird to get back into.
Ah, that gem. Getting back into essay writing and referencing has been a bit difficult. It is the thing that most people dread when writing assignments. To be honest, I forgot how to reference properly and have needed to dig around for the Harvard Referencing guide for a refresh. It is things like that you just forget how to do. I haven’t really missed that part.
Hello final year
Most people who read this will laugh but I actually felt old coming back. It felt like I hadn’t set foot on campus in an age. I mean, 16 months is quite a long time to be away but coming back and seeing all the freshers did make me feel old. I recently spoke to a large group of potential students about my University journey and it was only here when it all hit me. I remember looking up to the final years when I started thinking they were the scariest people on earth. Hearing the word dissertation scared me and I always thanked myself I wasn’t at that stage, how do they do it. But hello, here we are. Given that after a hurdle in first year I didn’t think I’d pass and seeing how low my self-confidence was in myself, I’m pretty proud to have got this far, to be honest.
But in the grand scheme of things, I am really seeing the benefits of doing a placement every day. It is so beneficial and has helped me a great deal, even only 6 weeks in.
So, what have I taken back with me?
Thanks for showing me this gem, Mia. It’s my favourite thing and I don’t know how I never have come across it before. You can keep all of your to-do lists and lecture notes in one place….game changing. I’m forever flicking from word document to word document trying to find lecture notes from 6 weeks ago but having it all in one place has helped me to be more organised. I can add things to my do list, review notes from a previous week or unit without leaving the program. Laugh all you want but it’s so good at helping you to keep organised. It’s like having a folder with everything you need, filed away but just on your laptop.
We’ve all heard the nightmare stories about the students who lost all of their work a week before the deadline. It happens every year and every year I just hope my laptop loves me enough not to do that. But to keep myself (hopefully) safe, I now work completely off the cloud. Everything I work on sync’s to the University OneDrive which means all of my files are being saved somewhere else just in case the unfortunate happens. It works exactly the same way, I save my documents in a file on my computer as if I were saving as normal, my laptop then uploads all edits to the cloud for me. Genius.
And then another plus is you can access your files wherever, you don’t need to have your laptop.
I actually felt nervous going back to Uni with no proper calendar. I quite liked having a calendar at work and planning out my time from that. So this year, I’ve actually made use of my calendar – I can sync it across all of my devices so I see the same calendar whatever device I am using. I tried to use a diary in second year to arrange my weekly to-do lists and manage my time but it didn’t really work. Having my to-do lists in one note and using one calendar seems to be doing the trick this year! (So far.)
My confidence since coming back is a world away from when I left second year. I’ve spoken about this in some other posts I wrote during my placement year but the difference is huge. I actually didn’t do much public speaking during placement but the experiences I had gave me the confidence to stand up and speak in one of our biggest lecture theatres last weekend. I’m doing another one in a few weeks and I don’t think I would have the confidence without going on placement.
And then I guess my self-confidence has massively grown too. Confidence in myself that I can get to where I want to be. I am finally believing in myself.
Seeing topic areas in practice
And then it wouldn’t be this post if I didn’t touch upon this. I have an inquisitive mind. Always have, always will. Placement year has opened my eyes to some amazing topics that have influenced my dissertation topic but also helped me in my units already. Being in the industry and coming back means I can apply what I’ve learnt and continue to build upon my knowledge before I enter the big wide world next summer.
Obviously, I’ve taken a lot more than those few points back with me – I’ve written about them in other posts but they’ve eased the transition from working back to essays. Hopefully, it is all smooth from here on in!