This advice changed my career back when I was a student
It’s kinda crazy to think that it’s already been 3 years since I’ve graduated. It feels like it’s been forever, and it feels like it was only yesterday that I was only trekking the halls in between classes and eating McDonalds during my final exams.
Anyways, I’ve been doing quite a few student engagements these days. It’s been refreshing to meet the next generation of students, eager to succeed. Many are feeling lost in today’s world, and I’ve learned—after 3 years—that the feeling doesn’t ever really go away.
As the students pepper me with questions, I keep thinking back to when I first started university. I remember crying at the bus stop because I missed the bus that was supposed to take me to an interview for a volunteer position at a student club (LOL). I thought that I was already failing in life and the semester hadn’t even started yet… (yes, I can be quite melodramatic).
In a moment of reflection on a random weeknight, I recount some of the best advice I’ve received as a student. Here goes Part 1!
Get some actual experience before you go out into the real world
When I started university, I was dead set on graduating in 4 years and finding a full time job after. I thought that if I took any longer to graduate, that I would be seen as a failure. Hence, I never considered getting an internship… until I talked to a mentor.
My mentor was a student who was few years older and wiser. He told me that I needed work experience and encouraged me to apply for the co-op program.
“What’s gonna make you stand out from every other student graduating with the same degree in your class?”
It was a good question… Even if I did graduate in 4 years as planned, why would an employer choose ME over everyone else?
And so, I took his career changing advice and applied for the co-op program. I landed a 12 month internship at an O&G company and had the best experience I could’ve asked for. I learned how to navigate the corporate world, I met incredible mentors and sponsors, I found friends who I still hang out with today, I made money to fund my sushi and bubble tea addiction, and I realized that there was so much more to a university career than my academics and a 4.0 GPA.
This internship eventually led to 3 years of professional work experience and I was making really good money for a student who hadn’t graduated yet. This money gave me the freedom to pursue my interests and passions, like attending the Collision Conference in Toronto—which ultimately led me to a career at Microsoft.
I am re-sharing this career advice to all you students who are out there! Don’t get sucked into the 4.0 GPA hype and focus solely on your academics—go and explore what a day in the life is like in the career you’re pursuing. See if you actually love it, or if it makes you miserable. It’s way better to figure that out now than 5 years later when you feel like you’ve already put too much skin in the game!
Good luck and check out my Top 10 University Mistakes series for more learnings.
Fun Fact: This photo was taken with my internship friends at my farewell lunch before I left to Singapore!
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