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The importance of being proactive at university

Book open Reading time: 3 mins

My name is Grace Houghton and I’m a Bright Network Campus Champion at King’s College London. I’ve been a member of Bright Network since I first started university back in 2017 when I signed up to the platform at the fresher’s fair. I’m not exaggerating when I say that this was the best thing I signed up for in my first year.

Use your first year wisely

People often tell you that your first year is the time to settle into your new home and have fun. This is true, but it’s also a key opportunity to get started with your careers. For law at least, firms begin recruiting students when they are in their second year of university. This means that you need to have done your research and made your connections before your second year! It may seem daunting, but when you get to second year, you should have a strong idea of where you wish to apply. Meeting firms and the graduate recruitment teams is one of the best things you can do for your career – to learn about the firms but it also puts you in good stead to be successful in your applications. You’d be surprised at how many people remember you if you make an impression at networking and other graduate events.

Utilise networking opportunities open to you 

In my first year, I attended the “Bright Network First Year Lawyers Top 100” event where I was lucky enough to network with firms such as Clyde & Co and Mishcon de Reya and build a rapport with the graduate recruiters from these firms. Just from this interaction, further unique opportunities stemmed from this including graduate dinners and breakfasts. Attending these events shows that you are proactive, hard-working and determined. It was also invaluable to speak and hear from other students whom had attended the event the year before with the same experience who had met the firms for the first time and went on to secure vacation schemes and training contracts with them.

Your network is your 'net worth'

When people say, ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know,’ we often think this is unfair. It suggests that hard work doesn’t help you succeed – connections do. This is somewhat correct, but it doesn’t have to be a negative thing. Events like this allow you get to know people and make these key connections. Networks are not only formed on the basis of family members or friends but as a result of being proactive, and attending events like these, in order to build your network with employers.

Proactivity is key

I cannot emphasise the importance of being proactive early on at university. Even if you do not yet know what you want to do after your degree, attending events and broadening your horizons can help you with making these first steps. The latter years at university are stressful enough, without the added pressure of leaving things too late with regards to your career. So do what you can to help your future self as early as possible!