This 10 Biggest Mistakes You Can Make in University blog series is for any students who are still in school, or about to attend university, so that you can make the best out of your academic career!
Thank you to the dozens of people from around the world who have anonymously shared their biggest regrets in hindsight and what they thought were the biggest mistakes that people make in university. Originally, I wanted to share all 10 at once, but I received so many great responses that I wanted to do a deeper dive on each of the Top 10 mistakes. Check out University Mistake #3 if you haven’t read it yet!
When a high GPA is your priority, it is easy to make excuses for skipping out on socials and favouring your textbooks over strangers. However, university is the best time for you to build both your personal and professional network.
A personal network is important because, whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, you need a support system to get through university. It is also a lot easier to meet new people while you’re in university since you have new classes every semester and lots of social activities going on. These opportunities to socialize are a luxury that you will rarely get once you start “adulting” and working full-time. Also, most people will have already established their close circles of friends by the time they graduate, so it may be harder to make friends as you get older. Don’t be afraid to take a chance because the meet you people today could become your good friends, partners, and gym buddies tomorrow!
On the other hand, building a professional network is equally important for your career and professional development. Primarily, surrounding yourself with ambitious peers will push you to work harder and strive towards greater goals. Furthermore, networking can help you find internships and jobs, especially if your grades are not the highest. You may also find that industry professionals are more open to speaking with students and sharing their thoughts and perspectives, so now is the perfect time to absorb as much insight and advice as possible!
What Can You Do?
Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and say “yes” to social events, even if it can be intimidating. You never know who you will meet!
Get involved and join student clubs and organizations. I have met dozens of people who used to be complete introverts, but broke out of their shells after joining clubs and organizations on campus. Their social lives became much more vibrant, and they also built their confidence.
Find a buddy and attend networking events together. There are many different types that are free throughout the month, so find one with a theme or topic that interests you. The bonus is that you will usually get free food at these events (when they are in-person)!
Be open minded to meeting new people who come from different backgrounds. Being a business student does not mean you should shy away from befriending those in engineering or nursing. In fact, I would say that it helps give you perspective and allows you to be more empathetic to the world around us.
What Did I Do?
Although I loved joining student clubs to develop my skills and experiences, I was actually terrified of networking… especially with industry professionals. It was already nerve wracking to meet other business students who seemed much more poised and practiced than I, but approaching “professional adults” who had years of corporate experience was another horror I had yet to face.
To step outside of my comfort zone, I decided to join a Corporate Relations team on campus (AIESEC), where cold-calling and meeting industry professionals was part of the job description. Through coaching and training, I built up the courage to make my first cold-call one day, and realized that it wasn’t so bad after all. From there, I won the “Portfolio Star Award” for Q4 results and became the VP of Corporate Relations within 3 months.
Thanks to my time in AIESEC, I overcame my fear of networking and learned a lot about building professional relationships, which led to many opportunities to meet and learn from managers, directors, VPs, and C-Suite executives.
Check out my Leadership Series to learn some important career and leadership lessons:
The least you need to know
Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone.
- Say “Yes” to hanging out with your teammates after finishing a group project and getting to know them outside of the classroom. You’d be surprised at what you may have in common (e.g. hobbies, interests).
- Find a buddy (or buddies) and attend networking events together. It will start off intimidating, but it will get easier and become enjoyable. Set a goal for how many new people you want to meet.
- Embrace the awkwardness (it’s only awkward if you make it awkward). Try to do some research on who is attending the event, smile a lot in your conversations, and ask good questions.
Stay tuned for University Mistake #5 and remember to subscribe for my top 3 career resources each month!