A good way of thinking about your time as a postgrad is as a concentrated version of your previous university experience, with the length of study shorter and the word count much higher.
This also applies, however, to the importance of joining clubs and societies as a postgrad. Whether you are taking a postgrad degree to improve your employability, get a job in academia or even just to put the thought of the inevitable off for a year, clubs and societies offer crucial opportunities to network and just general to socialise in a time when it can feel just like you versus the library.
So where should you go at Freshers’ Fair once you’re done grabbing all the free pens, memory sticks and mugs that you can carry? The most important is the Postgraduate Society. Firstly, they look after the rights and welfare of all postgraduate students across the university (and you never know when that could come in handy…). Secondly, the events and socials they organise are guaranteed to be an undergrad-free zone, crucial for when you’re tired of the 18-year-olds with their snakebite and complaints about workloads that are in reality much smaller than yours.
After you’ve hunted down the Postgraduate Society and pocketed even more pens, it’s time to think about your future career. Obviously those doing professional vocational courses like MBAs or law/medicine will be making a beeline to the respective societies for their profession, but even if you still have no clue about what you want to do in the future, a society or two could provide that all-important clue.
Join a few societies according to your interests or skills, and you may find yourself doing something that you have a real passion for, and can see yourself wanting to do 9-5 every weekday. Plus, every person you meet is a potential networking goldmine you can reap later on during a crazed midnight sweep through LinkedIn in five years’ time. If nothing else, it will give you a break from your studies amongst like-minded people.
Saying that, ensure that this break from your studies doesn’t become something that’s getting in the way of you studying. Postgraduate life (as I’m sure you’re already discovering) is a time-intensive period that involves a lot of self-discipline, and it can be very easy to get lost in a world of sports matches, student politics or whatever else you’re into.
Outside of the important professional societies you really need to be a part of, it is probably best to limit yourself to one or two societies if you’re really committed to something, or a small handful if you’re just looking for people to hang out with. Though that said, arts, media and showbusiness are full of people who ignored their university studies and focused on theatre, music or TV (for example, comedian David Mitchell only got a third from Cambridge, focusing as he was on student comedy). So maybe ignoring your studies and focusing wholeheartedly on society life is the way forward for you (note: it isn’t).
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