Freshers: Don’t Fret About The Future

PIPPA CALVIN explains why it’s much too early for freshers to get stressed out about the future.

Cambridge career Cindies CV direction first year Life Mahal mml pippa calvin south east asia stress to do list

So, here we are: over half way through the Easter holidays. This means I’m over half way through my first year at Cambridge. It’s time to assess my life. So, I may not have achieved, well, anything significant just yet, but I’d still consider the last year of my life to be a huge success.

After three wonderful weeks of Easter holiday procrastination, I decided to take a look at the To Do list I compiled in week five. Actually, it read more like a Sort Your Life Out list. It’s full of things I fooled myself into thinking I’d get around to during my (ahem) productive five-week break, such as: find a summer internship, look into Spanish summer schools, and sort out a year abroad project. Easier said than done.

After staring blankly at my list for a few minutes, and considering the minimal effort I’ve made to find direction in life thus far, I started to wonder whether I should be doing more to get a leg up on the career ladder, or whether I should just stop stressing out about it?

Whilst first year is arguably the easiest in terms of workload and time constraints, it’s undoubtedly a huge culture shock. Going straight to university from school or, better still, from ‘soaking up the culture’ on a gap yah in South East Asia is a big step. It certainly takes a while to adjust to a new schedule filled with lectures, supervisions, and the occasional 5am essay crisis. Throw in a bout of freshers’ flu, trying to make friends whilst suffering from said flu, and surviving your first Life/Cindies/Mahal experience and, well, you’ve pretty much got your hands full.

We’ve all suffered a 3am essay crisis…

So, now might not be the best time to start thinking about how much your CV will be improved by becoming a member of the scintillatingly named Technology and Enterprise Club, or the Diplomacy Society. Don’t get me wrong: if you’re genuinely passionate about technology and enterprise, by all means sign up. But, as far as I’m concerned, first year is the best time to get involved with things you’ve always loved or wanted to try out. It’s not the time to start CV building.

I for one have pretty much no idea what I want to do with my life post-uni. But recently, in the spirit of corporate adventure, I headed to the squash of a newly launched marketing and advertising society: MadSoc. It promised to be a great society, with particular support for the L’Oreal Brandstorm marketing competition – the stuff of CV legend.

Unfortunately, I was the only first year there. Not a huge shocker, considering you can’t even enter the Brandstorm competition until your second year of study. Admittedly, this is only anecdotal evidence, but it reassuringly affirmed my newfound conviction: no one really expects you to be all that career-driven until at least a little later on in your degree.

First year at any university is going to be a steep learning curve, and the best way to get through it is to strike the work-life balance by doing the things you enjoy. To quote a fellow first year: ‘Freshers’ is about going out, having fun and making friends that will never let you forget that time when …

And we can probably worry about the rest of our lives later.