How to get ahead in first year

Guest BloggerFirst Year, Part-Time Jobs & Volunteering

First year can be daunting but there’s no better time to delve straight into the university experience. As a second year, I’ve experienced the ups and downs and after some careful reflection, have come up with 5 top tips to make the most of every opportunity.

So, here’s how to get ahead from the beginning, develop your network and make life-long memories.

1) Societies & Clubs

Aston has over 90 student-led clubs and societies, so there’s always a way to meet a wide range of people; I was a member of 5 during my first year including the Mountaineering Club, Women in Business and Enactus. I was the most involved in Enactus which uses entrepreneurial action to improve lives of beneficiaries and, by working on impactful projects, I was given a platform to directly work with the refugees, organising a networking session to aid them into finding work experience – with one being offered a job at Starbucks. Whichever society you join, you are challenged and develop skills you never knew you had, with opportunities to join on later as a committee member.

2) Part-Time Jobs

Having only worked in Primark before, Careers and Placements were instrumental in helping me find a job as they host an annual Jobs Fair for Aston students inviting a plethora of employers. It just so happened that I managed to secure a job at Selfridges, which I still work at to this day, and I strongly advise you to engage early on with the Careers and Placements team! You can walk in with your CV, and get it thoroughly checked, as well as switching on email alerts from Aston Futures for various opportunities. This widens your experience when applying for placements and internships from second year!

3) Insight Events

Where do you want to work – Google? J.P. Morgan? Barclays? Whichever organisation or industry, they all provide one thing in common – insight events. First year is the best way to see if a company or industry is right for you, and if you engage with employers early on at university they notice!         

I was lucky enough to attend insight days early on at Deloitte, Amazon, Bank of America, and a spring week at Asda Headquarters in Leeds. Completing a spring week is a great experience to have, with most companies fast-tracking you to assessment centres for summer internships. I’d recommend you apply for them, as most open now and have deadlines approaching in January.

4) Network!

Following on from my last point, networking is a crucial skill to develop. As with most things the sooner the better, so make sure to get stuck in from first year! Engage with organisations like Bright Network, Arrival Education and SEO London who provide opportunities on Aston Futures easy for you to access and engage with. SEO London hold the infamous ‘First Year Fast Track’, where you can meet students and employers across the UK.

Even within Aston, there are numerous employers visiting campus throughout the year, so there are ample opportunities to build connections with recruiters and representatives. Make sure to keep in touch with them on LinkedIn, which if you don’t already have, I recommend making a profile on as soon as possible!

5) Build on your interests

This is easier said than done but continue doing what you enjoy and build on it during first year. Whether it’s starting your own YouTube Channel, hosting a podcast, or writing articles, you have the time to explore and create something unique and build on these skills. For example, if you’ve considered starting your own business, engage with BSEEN and Aston Enterprise, who do a 6-week ‘Apollo’ programme into starting your own business, and even apply to the Aston Enterprise Bursaries to obtain up to £2,000 funding to kick-start your idea.

To summarise, first year is the perfect time to widen your experiences to take advantage of all opportunities available. Make sure to stay engaged with the university and stay up-to-date with what Aston has on offer. Even if you incorporate one of these tips in first year, you’re already getting ahead and standing out from other students.

Enjoy yourself and good luck with everything. If you do have any queries, get in touch with the Careers and Placements team.

Written by Zafirah Nurmamodo