How students should prepare for life after university

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There seems to be a quite common misconception among students that going to university or college completely prepares them for their life once they leave said university or college and venture into the workforce. Of course, it does to some degree, but to suggest that going to university or college automatically renders one entirely ready for the workforce is both incorrect and irresponsible. Students all too often become complacent in their approach to their studies, being comfortable in simply turning in the assessments on time and attending classes. Each of these aspects of the experience are obviously important, but there is a lot more to learn from higher education than simply the traditional assessment methods and learning environments as employers are no longer depending on mere qualifications and often resort to an assessment software with online proctoring to assess their potential employees.

As students navigate life at university or college, the path will nearly always prove to be tumultuous and fractured. The road to success (and to graduation) is paved with good intentions, but that does not mean that it is not a difficult one to navigate at times. If students only do one thing outside of their standard approach to their education, it should be this: Read. Honestly, reading should be a student’s best friend in their years at school. Individuals that read often have a stronger understanding and a keener eye for detail than those that simply glide by doing the bare minimum. The reason for this is very simple: when students engage with the materials for their courses fully and properly, they consequently set themselves up to form a more in-depth understanding of not only the materials, but the world around them. On top of reading, taking that knowledge and using it to interact and engage with fellow students, educators, and titans of industry is vitally important – not only as students become alumni, but while they are still under the wing of the school.

Students must learn the fine art of networking as soon as possible – ideally, this is when they are still a student. The skill of being able to pitch oneself is invaluable, and prospective employers and professional connections love to interact with individuals who are confident in themselves and what they can offer. Going to events, conferences, and other networking events where members of industry will be present allows students to begin the intricate stages of building their professional network. Over the coming years, and as one’s career continues to build momentum, having a strong network can be all the difference. Social networks like LinkedIn provide individuals with a virtual recollection of all the network connections they have made, and has proven to be invaluable as individuals begin to pave their careers.

Continuous drive for success nearly always results in said success – even if it is not always in the way and time that was expected. One way to prove your drive and passion is to take on an internship or volunteer work (yes, unpaid). While the financial benefits may not be as much as one would like for putting in the work (if any financial income is available at all), the experience broadens one’s scope and appreciation for the work. Additionally, being so willing to take on work, and do it well, allows professional connections and prospective employers down the line the chance to see all one has experienced, and the work ethic that went into those experiences. Essentially, it puts you ahead of the competition.

This is especially true for students that go on to run their own businesses. As college students go on to become college graduates, many of them go on to begin their own projects, with the aim to have them flourish into thriving businesses. Starting a business is not easy, and individuals that not only are aware of this, but are ready and able to take the steps necessary to overcome barriers and trials often come out on top. While you are still at school, make it your business to learn the ins and outs of business – it will only serve to benefit you.

Contrary to popular belief, university will not completely prepare students for life after their graduation. It is undeniably true that university provides students with skills, knowledge, and the tools to build a strong career after they leave school, but the experience at university or college is simply a small taste of what is to come after. Rather than being comfortable in the hope that university has prepared you on all fronts and by all means for the workforce, go out of your way to engage with, learn from, and form connections in your industry while you are still at university or college. It is these experiences that allow future connections to see your entire scope of experience and knowledge, rather than just the academic transcript that sums up your time at school.

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