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.
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.
- 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. 💪🏼
🌸 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!
- 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!!
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)
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.*
**I earned this nickname from the CFG community, and I wear it proudly😂🙈