`1. All Work Is Group Work
If you’re studying a degree with ‘communications’ in the title then this is something you should’ve already expected. A degree based around a job focussed on networking, influencing and communicating is going to test your ability to work with others and this will definitely benefit you in the future. You’ll find that even individual assignments will benefit from discussing your thoughts and research with others in a group. You’ll usually get to pick your teammates but there’s always the small chance you’ll have to work with someone you don’t like. We are often told throughout life to simply ignore people we don’t get along with but the best route to take is to take time out with someone you don’t get on with and work it out for the sake of yourself and your team mates. Connections and contacts are vital when you’re in the industry so being on good terms with everyone you meet and work with is a good goal to pursue.
Here’s another one that should be obvious. If you want to work in communications you won’t be writing essays, you’ll be pitching and presenting ideas to clients and coworkers on a daily basis. Many people are terrified of the thought of presentations but you’ll be thankful you got the chance to practice and receive feedback on your ability to be a good communicator. The presentation-based assignments you do are also very similar to the type of tasks you’ll find yourself carrying out in the PR industry so you should find them much more enjoyable than what you would expect.
3. Never getting a booth at the library
Those booths in the library look so nice! They’re such a good idea! They’d be the perfect place for our group to meet to work on our presentation! Yeah…good luck. Even if you arrive early you should expect to see one of the most annoying things in the world: a booth being taken by one person on their own. Remember you can book private group study rooms through the portal and there are plenty of places around the campus that are great for meeting in groups such as the Queen Mary Undercroft or the open spaces in the Queen Anne building.
4. Spending more time in the library’s Starbucks than the actual library
If you didn’t manage to get on the guest list for the hottest spot in town (the booths) then your group will probably end up meeting here. Then, you won’t want to leave…but that’s okay. If you don’t know the people in your group too well this is a good chance to break the ice and become more friendly which will help you to all be more productive. Many professionals find ‘coffee meetings’ to be the best way to network but remember, you have a deadline!
5. The Top Floor of the Queen Mary building
You have two choices. You either wait until Third Year for the lift to finally arrive or take the stairs right to the top. Don’t be fooled by the fact that it’s the fourth floor, those stairs make it feel like the fortieth. Communicating For PR is a course that’s popular because it has quite a different teaching style to the others, so hopefully you’ll remain optimistic and appreciate the chance for a workout before class. It’s cheaper than a gym…
6. Emails, Emails, Emails and some more Emails
The lift in the Queen Mary building isn’t working. Actually never mind, the lift is working again now. No, wait, it’s broken. Have you had your CV checked over? Do you know about the Employability event that’s happening tomorrow because this is your fifth reminder and we’re still not quite sure if you got the message? Try not to be too overwhelmed. When you get a job in PR you’ll probably find your inbox close to bursting before you’re even awake so take this as an opportunity to practice managing communications. Don’t just quickly read the subject line of an email and decide you may as well delete it, the university always has events and talks going on that you will find beneficial and if you don’t check your email you won’t know about them. Your university email address is managed through Gmail, so it’s easy to link it up to your phone to keep on top of things. You’ll wish you did when you wake up early to get to a lecture where the only person there is you…only to find out the lecturer emailed everyone two days ago to cancel.
7. Attending lectures hungover
It’s not all hard work and stress, you came to uni to have a good time. But of course attendance is key. We don’t know who decided to allow 9AMs the day after Sparrows Wednesdays but that’s just the way it is. Don’t forget that there’s a student night happening somewhere every night in London and many clubs offer a purgatory before the hell known as ‘London prices’. Remember that something as simple as clicking ‘attending’ on an event’s Facebook page or following the venue on Twitter can often result in discounts on entry fees and social media skills are key for PR so technically…you’re doing extra work towards your degree. Well done. The N1 night bus (or N21 if you’re at Avery Hill) is there to get you back safe from Central London so make the most of living in the capital city and venture out further than Sparrows or Bar Latitude. You can always buy a coffee for less than a pound in the cafe in the Queen Mary building the next day and the “I’m just so tired today” excuse is perfectly acceptable. Sunglasses to a lecture on a cloudy day might just give yourself away though.
8. Where did all my phone battery go?
We’ve already established that you’ll be getting emails every second but living in London and being a student are probably two of the most phone-battery draining factors ever…and both apply to you. If you’re new to the city you’ll find thatCityMapper is a lifesaver for tips on getting around but sadly it’s not so kind on the battery. On top of that you’ve got every moment of a heated debate in the flat WhatsApp over who drank someone else’s Tropicana and there are two people in a group chat on Facebook you’re in that was supposed to be for organising a night out having their own little conversation…why can’t they just text each other? There’s no shame in obsessive Tinder use either. Only putting your phone on charge when it’s close to dying and only unplugging it when it’s fully charged is recommended by techies as a good way to keep your battery going strong but you’ll also benefit greatly from a portable charger. They are 100% worth every penny.
9. The cost of books
This is a problem common among all students. You’re probably thrilled that you’ve been given £200 worth of credit to spend at the John Smith bookstore but even a billionaire would gasp at the prices in there so it’s probably better to save that credit for when you need it most. If you’re not quick enough to get a copy of what you need from the library then the chances are there’s an equally as frugal Second Year willing to lend or sell you a textbook they no longer need. Amazon also stocks a remarkable amount of discounted second hand textbooks. The definition of a win-win situation: getting something for a quarter of the price…then finding it’s already filled with helpful notes and highlighted quotes. Perfect.
10. Trying not to brag to your friends about how much of a good time you’re having
You promised you’d FaceTime your friend from school every week and they’re telling you this week’s story that involves a ‘wild night’ where they ended up losing their shoe at the student union’s 90’s throwback night or something. You act more impressed than you are because you know you have plenty more interesting and funny stories of things you’ve been doing in London…and that’s not a bad thing! Make the most of being a student in this amazing city. You’re also studying a course taught by people with fantastic industry connections and outstanding employability statistics. Just try to stay humble when you tell everyone back home you’re having the time of your life.