Congratulations! You’ve taken one of the biggest steps of your life and have decided to go to university!

Whether you’ve stayed close to home, or travelled far, going to university may be a daunting prospect, but rest assured it is one of the most exciting times of your life.

You’re about to experience a whole new life, meet new friends, and miss too many 9am lectures. However, university isn’t always the easiest time for everyone. It can be stressful, and at times, lonely. For me, university got off to a rocky start, and it wasn’t until my second year that I started to feel settled and was able to look forward into the future, and visualise what my life after uni could look like.

But what a lot of students don’t realise is that your life after university could look very different if you take the opportunities you’re given during your time studying.

There are so many different budget friendly things you can do during your time at uni that also won’t swallow up your schedule, and will make you stand out as a candidate to help you to land your dream job.

1. Join a society

Whilst your university calendar is sure to be filled with socials, don’t forget to make time to work towards something that's going to benefit you in the long run. Not only are societies great places to meet like-minded people and learn new skills, but they’re also something that will make your CV stand out and show that you’ve been proactive during your time at uni.

A great way to show your enthusiasm is to join a society relating to your degree. That might be PR, media, marketing or journalism. But if that doesn’t take your fancy, joining the committee in any society in a marketing role is definitely a great thing to put on your CV.

But if there isn't one already established, why not start your own? This is a FANTASTIC way to show that you’re not afraid to step up and be a leader, and means that you can call the shots! This is exactly what myself and a friend did during our final year, and we got to work on some really cool projects like help planning the all-important Grad Ball.

2. Speak to your uni about what they can offer you

We all know you’re paying through the nose for your education, so why not get in contact with your uni and find out what they can offer you? See if there are any free trips or career counselling available that you can utilise. These experiences will help you to better understand the world of PR and will give you the skills you need to help get your foot in the door at your dream job, plus, you never know who you might meet through going to those free events and trips!On top of this, speak to your lecturers and ask for their advice. Your lecturers will know you well enough to be able to help identify areas for improvement and advance certain skill sets. They might even be able to support you in finding work experience, or put you in contact with industry professionals.

3. Run a social media account

If all things social media are your jam, then utilise those skills you’ve been learning since high school and run your own social media account dedicated to everything PR. You can share everything from your favourite campaigns, to your own ideas, and how you’d go about making them come to life.

This is a great visual way for employers to see what you can do and how creative you can be.

You can even take this one step further and reach out to small businesses and charities in your local area and offer to run their social media accounts for free. It doesn’t have to be anything too strenuous or take up too much of your time. It is all about showing you’re passionate to learn and have determination to succeed.

I did this in my final year for a local coffee shop, and not only did I get unlimited free lattes, but I also learnt about how businesses can use social media content to reach a wider audience.

4. Twitter and LinkedIn

You’ve probably heard this a lot, but never underestimate the power of Twitter and Linkedin. Creating an account and connecting with professionals could really be the best thing you could do to get yourself out there and get noticed. These platforms are also great ways for you to stay up to date with everything that's going on in the world of PR. You might even be able to find yourself a mentor in the industry that can help to make yourself a more viable candidate when it comes to applying for jobs when you’ve finished uni, so don’t be afraid to slide into those DMs and shoot your shot!

Also, don’t shy away from sharing your own content on these platforms: being vocal about your ideas and opinions is a sure-fire way to get noticed!

5. Build a portfolio

Whilst you're busy creating mind-blowing Instagram accounts or writing fantastic copy, why not create a portfolio so you can really show off your talents when you’re in those post-grad interviews? If you’re not sure of what to put in your portfolio, a good starting point would be to write as much as you can. You can do this by offering to write guest blogs or articles for local or student papers, or get in contact with bloggers.

Some people might tell you that CVs are dead and that nobody really takes the time to read them anymore, so a portfolio is a great way to jazz up and exhibit your accomplishments.

Keep snippets of any freelance work you do and save them for your portfolio, so that you can smash that first interview out of uni and show off all your hard work!

6. Know where you want to be

Having a clear idea of where you see yourself working after university will help to keep you motivated and focused on your direction. Have a scope around at which companies are in your area (or where you plan to be) and choose a few that appeal to you, and then reach out to them, explaining you’re still a student but that you can see yourself working there once you graduate. Don’t be afraid to ask them for advice on what they look for when they’re hiring graduates. This will really help you to channel your energy and give you a clear direction of where you’re headed. They might even offer part-time experience for students -there's only one way to find out!

7. Think ahead

Following on from this,even if you’re unsure of where you want to be when you finish university, a great place to start is having a look at what kind of jobs are available to recent graduates, and what kind of experience or skills these roles look for. This way you can start tailoring your CV or portfolio to match exactly what these roles are after, and show how you’ve worked on yourself to make sure you are a viable candidate.

8. Fancy starting your career at Rise at Seven?

If Rise at Seven is where you see yourself, check out our careers page, but if you don’t see anything you think you would be suited to just yet, still get in touch. We love to speak to talented graduates with drive!

For any other tips, tricks, advice, or just general chit-chat, follow me on Twitter @emilypinch_PR.