Congratulations to everyone who got into their first choice universities. But if you think you can just sit back and relax now you’d better think again.
The key to getting the most out of your first year at university is to strike a healthy balance between work and play. Additionally, if you haven’t already done so, it’s also important to start thinking about your CV.
First year marks may not count towards your final degree, but don’t take this as an opportunity to slack off. Firms will ask for these grades when you apply for vacation schemes.
You will be expected to spend more time studying on your own, so be sure to get organised from the start. This will help you keep on top of your work throughout the year and will prove invaluable when it comes to revision.
Try to attend all lectures. They present an overview of the topic that will make your independent reading much easier. Lecturers are often at the top in their field, so make a note of their comments. Don’t be overwhelmed by the reading list: not everything is useful and you’ll soon be whizzing through it. And don’t be put off by the jargon: law is full of it, but you’ll soon get used to it.
If you’re strapped for cash, visit the second-hand bookshop to purchase relevant textbooks.
This is the fun bit. Freshers’ Week is great, so make the most of it as this is the only chance to go out and enjoy yourself without having work to do or lectures to attend.
Fully immerse yourself in the university experience, make an effort to socialise and explore your environment. Many people make lifelong friends at university. Go to your Freshers’ Fair and join all the societies that interest you, especially the Law Society. They’re not expensive to join and many have free taster sessions, so don’t let anything hold you back. And don’t forget, sports societies are just as important as academic ones.
Society involvement is a great opportunity to gain some of the vital skills employers are looking for. If no society interests you, then why not set one up?
Don’t worry too much about your CV in your first term; concentrate on getting involved in university life and adjusting to the new environment (but, of course, keep on top of your work).
If you’re sure you want a career in law, get involved in activities such as debating and mooting. Also, attend employer presentations and careers fairs to start familiarising yourself with the legal sector. This will put you in a stronger position when applying for formal work placements.
Start working on your CV over the Christmas holidays, as there are a number of work experience opportunities at City law firms for first-year students. Places on these schemes are competitive, so don’t be disheartened if you don’t get a place. Apply for an open day instead.
Firms want you to be well-rounded, so don’t dismiss a summer job as irrelevant. Working in a shop, for example, involves solving customer problems and it can show off many of the skills employers are looking for.
Use your legal knowledge to help the community. Get involved with the Pro Bono (charitable law work) Society, for example.