I recently finished my second year of university. It’s been a lot to reflect on, and I’d like to share it.

If you’ve read my post from first year , then you’ll have a reasonable idea of what to expect. However, this year has been very different to say the least. Nonetheless I hope you enjoy.

To begin

Last year I had the most amazing summer. I was working for my scholarship company, Sintelix, and I even managed a 5 week trip to Spain which was one of the most incredible trips I’ve been on. I made more happy memories there than I can count. So despite the pandemic which was constantly looming (and still is) I had a great summer break from uni and was really looking forward to getting back and enjoying my time studying and being with friends again. And then we went into lockdown…

Term 1

Basically all of first term was spent sat inside my 1 bedroom flat at my desk or on my bed. Exciting I know. What’s even better is that second year at Imperial is well known for having a high workload. And let me tell you - that was an understatement this year. I realised how much going into campus each day helped keep you motivated and reduce the feeling of having loads of work to do all the time. Without this it was so much more difficult. When you wake up, sit down at your desk all day and often continue working late into the night, there is nothing to make you feel the progress you are making other than submitting a piece of work. When this is the only objective I had, I found myself struggling so much to get things done ASAP and enjoying the work was the last thing I found happening.

Some lecturers put a great deal of effort into producing high quality videos for us to watch and to structure their publishing schedule, whereas others did not. This would be my one complaint from this year at Imperial. The lack of consistency with video quality, publishing schedules and lecture style. I can appreciate that this year must have been super difficult for the teaching staff and not only us students, but at certain points it was laughable how bad a lecture was.

Anyway, I don’t like complaining too much so I’ll swiftly move on.

Why the hell not?

At some point during first term I received a message on LinkedIn from a recruiter advertising a summer internship for a company I hadn’t heard of before - Optiver. They had listed the benefits of the internship which were more than appealing and then gave some more info as well as asking if I’d like to apply. I didn’t really think much of it (and didn’t reply either - sorryyyy) and carried on with uni work. Anyway, I had my scholarship and at the time wasn’t really looking to move on.

But then came around the DoCSoc Careers Fair and there was the Optiver booth. I joined the video call and stuck around listening to the HR staff talking about what Optiver is like, what they do, the benefits of the internship and what it looks like to be a new hire. It all sounded amazing. So I thought to myself, why the hell not? And applied. Long story short, I went through the stages of the application process (I think there were around 5-6 stages) and was offered a position for the internship! I just want to quickly slip in how amazing the whole hiring process was at Optiver. The HR staff were amazing and I received feedback after every interview within one day and often on the same day.

So then in February I had to make the decision to quit my scholarship with Sintelix. It wasn’t something I saw myself doing but truthfully I was struggling a lot with doing (or not managing to) work during term time this past year. It was already hard enough with uni work. And although they had always said education comes first, I kept feeling guilty about not doing any work. And to be honest, I don’t think it was the right place for me either. Especially looking back from where I am now, I definitely did the right thing.

Cutting things short

I know I haven’t written too much this year. A lot of stuff has happened. I started to read a lot more this year, I discovered what it feels like to burn out, to pull all-nighters. I actually used my Spanish although infrequently, and I still had great memories with friends. I think the biggest thing I’ve realised this year, is that everything they say about being in your early 20s is true. I have no idea what is going to happen in my life over the next 5 years. I thought I knew exactly where I was going to be in a year’s time, at this time last year - I couldn’t have been more wrong. I had the greatest relationship ever over this past year which sadly came to an end, I overworked myself, underworked at times, spent too much money, spent too much time inside and many many more unfortunate things. My biggest takeaway from this year of not only university but life, is that reflection is a powerful tool. I should use it more often. It helps to gain some perspective on where you really are. Without it I would be one hell of a mess right now (I’m not far off but we keep on moving). So I guess if there is one thing I’d recommend you do after reading this is just sit back and think about where you are right now. Keep increasing that scope outwards and you’ll gain that perspective. Who knows how different it’ll look next year?

Stay positive.