How can I make the most of my time in first year?

Posted in: Advice, inspire, Tips & Hints

At the Careers Service, we’ve had great engagement from first year students this term, with the most popular query being ‘How can I make the most of my time in first year?’.  I’m sure most of you will know the main features of campus; 24/7 access to the library, the Students Union, classes at the sports training village and enjoying the lake side views, but what hidden treasures are available to make the most of your time? In this blog, I’ll scratch beneath the surface and see what’s out there for you to really engage with life as a student at Bath.

Vertically Integrated Projects (VIPs)

What do a first-year sociology student, a final year chemist and a Masters level Management student have in common? a VIP!

What’s a VIP? A project which has real life impact.  Working in a diverse group you’ll be given a problem and have the chance to research, develop ideas and create change through innovation. Applications open in December 2022 and previous topics have included student wellbeing, technology for social care, biodevices without borders, sustainable food consumption, and lots more. Find out more about Vertically Integrated Projects (VIPs).


Interacting with a student from another University in a different country for 6 weeks is a fabulous opportunity to share an intercultural experience together. The Virtual Language Exchange (VLE) are currently running with France, China and Jordan.  You don’t always need to speak the language – this is an opportunity for intercultural exchange, a great chance to broaden your horizons and hone those transferable employability skills.

Speaking another language can give you a significant advantage in today’s competitive global employment market. Learning a new language shows you are a candidate with initiative, willing to develop yourself and explore different cultures. There are 8 different languages on offer, all from beginner level, so why not give it a go?

If you want more informal chances to practice language skills, explore Language PALS or the language café.  Develop confidence through language games, listening to music, watching film clips. At the language café, grab a free hot drink and chat about a suggested theme, such as travel, traditions or music.


Whatever your motive, whether it’s meeting new people, developing employability skills for your CV or giving back to your local community, volunteering is a perfect opportunity to engage and make the most of your time at University. The volunteering ad board on the SU website is a fantastic place to start for community based projects, there are opportunities in whatever matters to you; supporting animal shelters, talking to older residents in the local area, reading with pupils or helping at an affordable food pantry. There are also opportunities to fundraise for charities and join volunteering groups based at the University.

Climate Literacy Training

Since declaring a climate emergency, the University has embedded climate action into your education framework. Climate Literacy Training and climate leaders are two options for you to delve further into this field, building your knowledge, confidence, and skills to protect our planet.  Read this excellent blog by Emily Richards to find out more about taking action whilst at Bath.

Participate in Research

With Bath being an active research University, you might have spotted posters in your department or on the back of a toilet door asking for participants in research. This can range from focus groups, 1:1 interviews, questionnaires, exercise assessments or tests and can be a simple one off 30-minute session or a more regular commitment for a longer period.  All research has to go through a thorough integrity and ethics process. It’s a fun and unique opportunity to get behind the scenes of ground-breaking research and sometimes you even get a free hot drink, cash or voucher!

Final thought

So, there you have it! A few ideas for you to explore.

Spending time working with others, exploring new cultures and developing skills make a fulfilling first year and a chance to develop personally and professionally.  There’s no need to take on too much, but access opportunities and activities that appeal to you, have fun and enjoy making the most of your first year.


Posted in: Advice, inspire, Tips & Hints


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