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May 23, 2023, by Leah Sharpe

How to Reflect and Plan Your Next Steps

By Caroline Nolan, Careers Adviser

There is no better time to take a look back over your first year, reflect on what you have done, and start planning your next steps. What career skills and experience have you developed and how can you expand them? Have you joined a society, attended careers events, become a course rep, volunteered or focused on your academic studies?  

How do I start?

The first step for me is reflection – undertake a skills audit. Ask yourself, what skills and experiences do I have, and what have I learnt this year? Have you a career in mind, or are you looking to broaden your horizons? You may have technical skills but recognise the value of developing transferable skills for the workplace. Too many questions you might say, but this is your choice, it’s worth taking the time to establish where you are and what you can or would like to do next.

What opportunities can I explore?

You may or may not have a clear idea as to what you want to do when you graduate, that’s fine! It is not always essential to have relevant experience, employers are not looking for the finished article. Instead, use the mindset that all experience is valuable, the key is recognising your skills and how you articulate them.

In your second year why not use the opportunities around you, try something different and broaden your experience and skills. When you look back this time next year what one thing would you like to say you have achieved or discovered? It’s over to you to explore and say to yourself:

I can:

Undertake a year long placement

Develop your work experience through the Optional Placement Year. It is a great way of building employability skills, experiencing the workplace and giving you a chance to see if a specific role or sector is the one for you.

Participate in the Nottingham Internship Scheme

The Nottingham Internship Scheme offers paid work experience with local employers during the spring and summer vacations.

Complete a Nottingham Advantage Award module

The NAA is our employability scheme designed to showcase your extracurricular activities and prepare you for the recruitment process.

Join a society

There are over 300 student groups to explore! Joining a society is a great way to network and develop new skills.

Develop my digital skills

The Digital Marketing Academy is a great opportunity to engage with the sector, roles and gain hands on digital skills.

Gain part-time work experience

Unitemps offer paid part-time work opportunities to UoN students, something you can work around your academic studies.


Volunteering is a great way to give something back to our community. It’s also an opportunity to try different types of work, gain employability skills, develop your CV and gain invaluable experience especially in those sectors where formal placements may be limited.

Final thoughts

This is only a small selection of opportunities on offer to engage with over the next twelve months and beyond. You can start by organising your thoughts and priorities. Get started by trying our online exercises, Making Career Decisions and Building your self-awareness to help with career thinking.

Remember you can book an appointment with Careers at any point for careers support. 

Good Luck!

Posted in Careers AdviceChoosing Your Career