Upon completing my final undergraduate University assignment today (Thursday), I thought about what advice I would give to my first-year self. After reflecting on my time at University over the past three years, and how I have grown over the past three years, I have compiled the top five things that I have learned from my time studying Public Relations and Communications Management at Solent University.
- Perseverance is key
Although it can be much easier said than done, perseverance is key during your time at University. There are undoubtedly going to be times of stress and worry, which can make you lose sight of the bigger picture. However, the last three years have flown by for me- and times of stress do pass- so keep going and feel proud of what you’re doing- working towards a University degree is a huge achievement!
As previously mentioned, some elements of your time at University may seem quite overwhelming and intense at times, as someone who has recently completed a dissertation alongside two reports, I understand the feeling that the light at the end of the tunnel is very far away. I have found planning and organisation have been helpful in alleviating some of the pressure I faced, but equally staying positive has really helped my productivity. Although staying positive might be tricky at times, breaking tasks down and rewarding yourself after completing sections of work really do help to keep you focused and to keep momentum up.
3. Listening and learning
Everywhere you turn there is great advice to be found. Listening, talking to, and absorbing information from peers, lecturers and industry professionals can really help develop your thoughts and improve your understanding. Throughout my time at University, I have really valued the conversations and discussions I have had with University colleagues and wider PR professionals alike, as it only takes one conversation or one person to explain something differently, to introduce you to new ideas. Although the current pandemic may not make conversations and networking events as accessible as usual, there are opportunities out there to connect with industry professionals and learn more about what you are interested in.
4. Find a hobby
Finding a hobby during your time at University can really help you to unwind during heavy times of assignments and exams, and can equally boost your confidence. I began blogging, mainly about Formula One, during first year, which I found to be useful in developing my writing and a fun way to unwind and learn more about something I love. During third year, I picked my blog back up and started researching subjects that I had found an interest in over my time at Solent. I have really enjoyed expanding my knowledge about the subjects I am interested in, and keeping up to date with current affairs within the PR and business world. Additionally, creating a weekly blog really encouraged me to keep creating content, and to relate each week’s discussion to a current event or situation. In terms of PR students, PR Place’s Best PR Student Blog competition has been a valuable tool in networking with other students and industry professionals- even in the midst of a pandemic. Personally, I have enjoyed the challenge of building my blog up, and I have enjoyed creating discussions with PR students at other Universities, who I most likely would not have met without creating my blog. I believe the blogging process has really improved my confidence to talk in a professional context about subjects at length, and has really developed my writing skills.
5. Don’t panic!
When I think back to the first assignments and presentations I completed during my course, I was nervous and probably overcomplicated things through fear of failure. Throughout the course of my degree, I’ve learned panicking in stressful situations is not helpful, so as hard as it may be, staying calm and organising your thoughts can be really valuable. Also, practice makes perfect, and starting a degree takes a lot of adjustment. My best advice to alleviate uncertainties surrounding University assignments is to practice as much as possible- a great example is to record or film yourself when practicing presentations as I always felt more confident reading the points aloud and practicing it to time.
My final word of advice is.. enjoy it! The time goes incredibly fast, and there are opportunities everywhere for you to grow your understanding of things and challenge yourself!
Thank you for reading!