Case study

International relations student — Jasmine Dodd

Jasmine moved from Worcester to study BSc International Relations at Cardiff University. Find out what extra-curricular activities she takes part in to improve her employability

How did you find the experience of moving to a new city?

Moving from Worcester to Cardiff, I found it was important to engage with Cardiff itself - beyond student life - and get to grips with the culture, geography and local gems.

I also think it helped me to make friends in different places. It can be tempting to settle down with your housemates and not bother to reach out to other people, but a big part of my experience at university is the people I’ve met. It really helped me to have friends all over the place, such as those from my accommodation, societies, course, part-time job or even the queue at Lidl.

Tell us about your extra-curricular activities at university.

My role as student blogger for Cardiff University was the perfect opportunity to expand my writing skills, work remotely, and share my experiences as a student in Wales. I found the role advertised on JopShop, the student union's employment service for students. I recommend keeping an eye on your institution's job board for similar opportunities.

In my second year, I began contributing to Quench, Cardiff University's arts and culture magazine. Eager to get more involved, I applied for co-travel editor at the end of my second year and was offered the role after an interview with the editor-in-chief. My role is about gaining editorial skills and building a community of Cardiff University students who share my passions. Meeting people who have written my pitches also makes me more confident in my own ideas and abilities. To get involved in student media, I recommend attending the fresher’s fair.

What other activities are you involved in?

One of my main goals in university is to balance my studies with real-world experiences and become a more well-rounded person. I think it's important to get out of the student bubble, and while many people do stay within it, that wasn't the best approach for me.

I am independently writing a travel guide to Cardiff, which is a way for me to share what I've learned from the challenges of moving to a new place. This guide is a challenge for me to develop my writing, research, and project management skills, but it's also a reminder that young people can advance their careers by exploring their local communities.

I also found it helpful to reach out to companies directly to express my interest and make myself visible. This paid off for me when I started writing for a popular hostel chain, St Christopher Inns. They allowed me to gain experience writing for their travel blog and even invited me to their ‘Innsiders’ event in Barcelona.

What advice would you give to other undergraduate students?

  • Don’t put too much pressure on yourself - it’s easy to be full of expectations when you  come to university. If you’re like me, you would have spent years wondering if you’ll even go and wondering what it would be like once you make it there. I’ve found that university is nothing like I expected, and not all my experiences have been good, but they all are valuable in shaping my time at Cardiff and influencing who I am now.
  • Set up a calendar - as a dyslexic person, this is a challenge for me, but having the time to do everything is a challenge for all students. My trick is to have two calendars, an online calendar which sends me specific notifications, and a physical calendar, which gives me a general overview, and a written to-do list always on hand. This way I’m not missing anything. It’s helpful to know deadlines and plan for projects well in advance.
  • Make the most of office hours - although it may appear intimidating at first, your tutors’ office hours are really the best way to make the most of your course. I didn’t start to take advantage of them until my final year, but I’m finding it useful for giving me clarity on the content and assessment of each of my modules and pointing me in the right direction.
  • Don’t be afraid to take the first step - again, although it may be intimidating, never be afraid to reach out. Whether this is within your university or looking for work experience, the best thing that you can do is ask and put yourself out there - who knows where you’ll end up.

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