4 out of 4

by Pauline on June 9th 2018

I’ve been waiting to write this post after my first month as a first-year student and honestly can’t believe the day has finally come…

🎉🎉🎉 I FINISHED MY UNDERGRADUATE DEGREE IN BIOMEDICAL SCIENCES!! 🎉🎉🎉

I’ve been enjoying these last few days of not having this guilt looming over me every single day whenever I took 5 minutes of the day not studying. On Wednesday afternoon, I crossed “do your degree” off my todo list, forever.

And let me tell you, it feels great.

Firth Court, The University of Sheffield

Firth Court, The University of Sheffield

Overall, my final exams went okay. There were one or two that made me worry for half a day after sitting them but then quickly realised that there was no point worrying because I couldn’t change anything. So instead, I looked ahead!

I’m sure if you’ve been following me on Twitter or Instagram, you’ve seen the various countdowns I had. I had a DM after my last exam with someone saying, “OMG, I remember when this was like 200+ days!” 😂 Anyone else remember how eager I was to finish my degree in September? 🙈


Break down of my final year

Before I go full-speed ahead into the exciting things coming up in the next couple of months, I wanted to take some time to reflect on the last year of my degree. I’ve done similar reflections at the end of my second year and placement year – each being very different, I have to say!

🍁 Autumn Semester

Following from a very positive and successful placement year and a busy summer of travelling and other internships, I felt refreshed and ready to finish the final bit of university.

But to be honest, feelings of anxiety crept up on me. Especially at the start when I was joining the year below where most people were complete strangers to me. I began missing all the people I used to study with in my first and second year, but they had all already graduated! They definitely made my degree fun and bearable. Thankfully everyone was really nice and I quickly adjusted. I tried to keep my focus on the finish line.

Fast forward the second week of the academic year, I found myself in an office – very distressed – doubting my achievements up to this point and my abilities – current and future. I left in tears, wondering if I could even finish the year. (A post on that can be found here – although it’s currently locked, PM for the password! 😊)

It was that horrible experience that deterred me away from staying on campus to study like I had in the past or be anywhere near my department (unless it was absolutely necessary e.g. Dissertation meetings where even then, I was visibly terrified) My confidence dipped to an all-time low, cycles of anxiety kept me from attending lectures and even looking at anything related to university – a huge contrast to my placement year.

Although this wasn’t the best start to my final year, I obtained a lot of support from friends, family and trustful university staff to help me get back on my feet.

It was a struggle but things got better.

The highlights:

  • Slowly getting over the traumatic experience above – it took a while but I tried my best not to let it take over my life.
  • I completed my dissertation and my Autumn exams.
  • I managed to run another successful semester of Code First: Girls – you all know how I feel about this community. 💖
  • I bagged myself two part-time jobs – one in Enterprise, another as a Web-Developer – they were both very flexible with my university timetable, which I am very thankful for. My WebDev job gave me a taste of remote work and I learnt that I loved it!
  • My job at Enterprise allowed me to meet so many incredible people in the start-up scene, their enthusiasm never failed to cheer me up when my days looked bleak. Shout-out to DiversiTea for also providing me with tea in when I needed it the most!
  • I received feedback from a talk I did for a project that heavily discouraged me from speaking. It wasn’t constructive, it was plain rude. So what did I do? Delivered 6 more – outside of my degree – to build my confidence and to improve myself. This was also when I said to myself that I would never ever let comments (that weren’t constructive) get me down again.
  • I became the University’s vlogger for a month to showcase the Hackathon scene in Sheffield. That was pretty cool!
  • Although I started getting a pile of job rejections, I toughened up and kept going. It wasn’t easy, especially after the awful experience I had with a certain academic (who had called me all sorts of things) but I kept picking myself up. Because I figured that nobody else was going to. 💪🏼
September 2017 outside Firth Court

September 2017 outside Firth Court

🌸 Spring Semester

The new year feels definitely gave me momentum to keep going. Spring semester was a lot more packed with lectures and labs, but I was studying modules that I enjoyed a lot more compared to autumn modules.

Also, the end was in sight which was motivating!

The highlights:

  • I ran my final semester – ever – of Code First: Girls. This had been a huge part of my University experience.
  • I organised a student-hackathon – it was a lot of fun!
  • I starred in the University of Sheffield’s International Women’s Day video.
  • I started getting recognition for work I had done with the tech community, this blog, my freelancing work and even my placement year. Very grateful for this. 🙏🏻
  • I submitted all my coursework on time (phew)
  • I got to do some dissection as part of my anatomy module – something that I really enjoyed in my second year.
  • I mastered the balance of University, work, health and my own creative stuff.
  • Remember those rejections? Yeah… I got some more! Often in the final stages. Frustrated and exhausted, I didn’t give in – I travelled around the country to interviews giving nothing less than 110%. And eventually, the day came… I finally bagged an opportunity – my first grad job! 😭
  • Then… I completed my final exams!!
Behind the scenes of IWD2018

Behind the scenes of IWD2018


Things I learnt in my final year

  • 🤷🏻‍♀️ Not everyone is going to like you. And that’s life, and we just have to learn to adapt and deal with it. My way of dealing with it has been to accept that yeah…I can’t please everyone. Some people are going to dislike me and no amount of anything I do would change that.
  • Surrounding myself with like-minded people is important for motivation (and for keeping me sane)
  • 🙌🏼 The value of constructive feedback. Always ask for it and apply it in the next assignment, the next interview – it’s important! But never let any negative-hate-led comments upset you for too long.
  • 🙅🏻‍♀️ …Especially – let me stress this again – from people in powerful positions. I don’t care if you’re head of anything, there is no excuse for terrible behaviour. Kindness and respect gets you further than anything else. 🤷🏻‍♀️
  • 💙 My anxiety can be beaten up with action. And lots of it. I think that this is why I tried to fill up my time when I could – I have a habit of dwelling especially on the horrible start to the year so I kept myself busy to make sure I didn’t have the time to think about it. Action, action, action worked for me. (Totally not saying to go out and work yourself to death, but I knew that dwelling would’ve kept me stagnant and made my university-triggered anxiety worse)
  • 💪🏼 Sticking to my values > blending into the crowd
  • 🌟 Standing out and being a bit extra (#theextralifechoseme) > blending into the crowd
  • 📚 Academia is not for me. So I don’t see myself going to sign up to a Masters degree anytime soon. I don’t regret going to university – it’s an experience that has shaped who I am today but I think that for me personally, I’ll find more self-development gold (that is applicable to what I think is important) elsewhere. Right now, it’s in my job, in communities and online work!
  • 🗂(From my personal experience) A majority of companies don’t care about the details of your degree. (Unless of course, you’re training to be a doctor or a lawyer) They care about YOU, as a person, your qualities, your potential. Can you integrate well with their team? Are you responsible? Can you provide value (e.g. a new edge to a project with technical/creative skills) to their company/team/department? Where have you shown this in at university and most importantly – beyond university?
  • 🔬With all that said, I do think Tissue Engineering is cool and I’m so ready to have off-the-shelf arms delivered to me within 3-5 working days. The progress with Cancer treatment is promising and I’m overall very excited about where the Biomedical field is heading!
  • 💀Oh and one last thing I learnt is how to determine a skeleton’s gender! That’s pretty cool, right? So, if you ever need that doing – for any reason – you know who to call I guess? (Definitely not me) 

Looking ahead

Huge thank you to everyone – family, friends, careers advisors, my colleagues from my placement and various part-time jobs, the tech and blogging community – that has supported me in my university life, I don’t think I would’ve done it without y’all! 💫

Now onto the next chapter of my life which starts in a new city (with graduation in between!) I’ve been “warned” that it’s not as fun and exciting as university, but hey, with that mindset nothing will ever be fun or exciting! I’m here to continue to learn, share and make the most out of it. 🙌🏼

Science says that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. But people also search for: Pauline Narvas.*

The Future is Bright & Full of Opportunity

The Future is Bright & Full of Opportunity

**I earned this nickname from the CFG community, and I wear it proudly😂🙈


Posted under: University



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24 comments

  1. Claire Hillsmith says:

    Wow!! just wow!! Pauline seriously you are amazing. Everything you’ve been through and dealt with, you get back up 10x stronger.

    I find it disgusting that some people have been so negative towards you – you know what that is? Jealousy and insecurity. People who have power or are in a position yet you walk in and they know you could do their job with your eyes closed and probably whilst working out too. People suck sometimes. But you know your own worth and that sets a great example for the rest of us.

    Congratulations on finally finishing uni – I find ‘adult life’ Can be much more exciting, and rewarding, than uni but of course it isn’t always easy. That’s just life though.

    HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND 💖

    • Pauline says:

      “Probably whilst working out too” Made me laugh so much 😂 Thank you for giving me the biggest smile this morning!

      You too lovely, thank you so much for leaving a comment! 💖

  2. Cailin says:

    Congratulations! The highlights are just amazing! I found myself in your words! Guess we all are going through the same wonders!

  3. Sakura says:

    Wow your university looks very pretty. It’s totally instagrammable!

    I know that feeling when you realised that the powerful people (the ones that can affect your studies/work) do not like you and just treat you badly. They really do sucks. But be warned! They are literally everywhere in the corporate world… 🙁

    Embrace the corporate world! I know you will rock in it! 😀

    • Pauline says:

      Thanks for the comment Sakura!

      I can’t wait for the corporate world, to be honest, it’s going to be a fun learning experience which I had a taster of in my placement year. 🙂

  4. Thao says:

    WOOOOOOHHHHOOOOOO! CONGRATS ON FINISHING! Here’s to starting a new chapter of your life! And enjoy your time off and spend time with your college friends if you still can before everyone leaves. These are precious memories that I wish I could go back and do more of.

    When I first started working after college, I was very anxious and nervous because everything felt so foreign and I felt out of my element (especially the first 6 months). I had worked hard to get my first job post-college and did not want to fail. In my first project, I was replacing a brilliant gal who graduated from MIT and left behind some great work for me to take over. It was a lot of pressure and I felt like a complete fraud. Many of my friends also felt the same anxiety and pressure to perform at their new career too, but we were all so new and felt so useless/clueless at times. But no worries! It’s okay! Your new coworkers/supervisors/managers will show you the ropes and over time, you’ll know enough to start taking charge and dominating. (And if they don’t support your growth, your twenties is the perfect time to be bold and job hop to a better gig.) Now, my friends and I are all much more relaxed and confident at work now that we know more about this mysterious “work world”. When you first start at entry-level, what you truly need is the ability to learn and the willingness to work hard. And with your new degree, you’ve demonstrated that you can do it. Cheers!

    • Pauline says:

      Thanks for all the advice Thao – I’ll definitely be spending the next few weeks of “freedom” with my uni friends! <3

      We're all learning together!

  5. Gillan says:

    Aww, congrats once again on finishing your studies! You’ve been a busy bee for your last year of uni, weren’t you. I’m so proud that you conquered your bad experience during the Autumn Semester.
    I agree that pushing through the bad experiences is the only way to get through. And that surrounding yourself with like-minded and supportive people is a way of nourishing yourself as a person.
    Good luck on beginning a new chapter of your life in another city! I can’t wait to hear more about your adventures! <3
    And same, academia is not for me. I'd like to get a master's degree but not in the near future haha

  6. WOO HOOOOOOOO!!! This is SO EXCITING! Congratulations girl, finishing your degree is such a huge accomplishment and you should be so proud of this ridiculous amount of work you put in to get here. Seriously, you didn’t just get your degree, you did just about everything else in between!
    One of the things I love the most is how you learned to ignoring other people’s negative ass comments and rudeness, and just used it as a catalyst to better yourself. It’s so unfortunate how terrible some people can be to others, but, there is a real power in killing with kindness and showing others compassion and patience.
    So now… Go take some time, ENJOY your newfound freedom before your job starts up, and BE SO HAPPY!
    We’re proud of you lady!

    Susie | http://milehighdreamers.com

  7. Cat says:

    Congrats on finishing your undergrad degree! That must feel amazing!

    That’s too bad that the semester of your final year didn’t start that well. (I remember that entry if it’s the one I’m thinking of, and I still can’t believe that person acted that way towards you.) I’m glad you had so many people to support you and get you back on your feet. Plus, that’s awesome you got two part-time jobs during that semester that were flexible with your schedule!

    I’m also glad that spring semester was much better! You accomplished so much, and definite kudos for getting all your coursework done on time!

    I really like your list of things you learned. That’s great that you’re not letting those sucky people keep you down, and I think that’s good that you’ve realized whether academia is for you or not. In the beginning, I felt pressured to get a Masters, but as I started to work more, I realized I didn’t want it and that I also didn’t need it for what I was doing.

    Congrats again and good luck on your next journey! I hope we get to hear more about your new job and new home later!

    • Pauline says:

      It is that entry you’re thinking of 🙈 I’m glad that I fought my way out of letting it bother me the whole year, although it did greatly affect me as I outlined above.

      Thanks for all the positive vibes Cat! I’ll be sure to share the new home and city soon. 🤗

  8. Nancy says:

    Major congrats on finishing uni! It’s great that you powered through your final year and overcame the obstacles that went your way. You’ve been so involved, I am sure it’s all worth it at this point! Sounds like your spring semester went better than the autumn semester.

    Ok, I don’t know who warned you that life after uni is not as fun but they’re probably doing it wrong lol. There are so many exciting things to do during life after uni! Forget about staying up to study, having a career is exciting and all of the money coming in to do whatever you like. Congrats again! 🙂

  9. Megan says:

    Congrats! I’m sure you’ll accomplish even more!

  10. Cindy says:

    That’s so rad! Congratulations! You are so driven and resilient and brilliant and these are all things worth celebrating. The post-graduation life is a beast of its own, but something tells me you’ll own it like a boss. 🙂

  11. Amy says:

    Congratulations, Pauline! So happy to hear that you’ve completed your degree. I remember how relieved I felt when I finished mine and I didn’t have to try and improve any more coursework or study for exams. It’s such an amazing feeling!

    I remember reading the post about the awful experience you had. That should not have happened anywhere and I still can’t believe it happened at a university. I hope you reported it. Glad you didn’t let it stop you!

    I do agree that life after uni can seem less exciting, because there’s no major point to aim towards (like promotions aren’t always available and no one grades you wtf lol) but it’s still great. I know I struggled with what to do with my evenings after my degree and felt a bit like I’d lost my purpose, but I’m used to it now.

    Good luck with everything and hope the job goes well!

  12. Krystal says:

    Gorgeous photos!