Focus on Gaining Experience—Even at the Expense of your Readings

Graduating with not only a fancy piece of paper but also real job experience in hand is a decision that will serve you well in the future.

Leaving the safe confines of your school and entering the workforce is a big transition. Having some measure of experience in your field of choice will set you apart from your peers.

I know that attending classes, finishing papers on time, and trying to manage a social life or a part-time job is more than enough to keep a student busy 24/7. But by seeking out a job or even just a volunteer position in your chosen industry, you will gain a competitive edge. This experience will give you a sense of what you like about your field and which areas you might want to stay away from in the future. Not to mention, your boss or supervisor would be a great reference. You’ll also interact with members of the industry and begin making professional connections. Most importantly, you gain field-specific experience before you begin searching for a full-time job, and you might even earn some money for your time.

How do you go about managing another commitment in your schedule? Try planning your semester to have a half or full day free. You can use that part of the day to work or volunteer, and still have time at night for TV, dinner and homework. A volunteer commitment can take up a surprisingly small amount of time. We can all afford to carve three nbso online casino reviews or four hours out of the 168 we have each week.

If you truly feel like you’re already at full capacity—you’re researching, writing papers or keeping up with readings during every free hour you have—it might be time to re-evaluate your priorities. I’m not telling you that school is not a priority. We’ve all seen the statistics—getting your degree and developing critical thinking and communication skills is very important. But what I will say is that a lot of motivated students (you know who you are) will accept nothing less than perfection. And when learning how to balance your life and work, perfection should not be the goal.

Accepting that you don’t need a 3.9 GPA and that you don’t have to meticulously read and highlight your 8,000 readings is a real turning point. If you lower your expectations to a reasonable level, you’ll be able to make time for work experience—something that is at least equally worthwhile to an assignment worth five percent of your grade, or a textbook that’s putting you to sleep. I’m not suggesting that you should stop going to class, or turn in your assignments three weeks late. There are obviously some benchmarks that you have to meet in order to keep yourself in good academic standing (and sane). Don’t skip out on sleep or feel you need to find a 40-hour-per-week job to gain this elusive “experience.” Do, however, think seriously about your professors’ postings for research assistants, and take a regular look at the job boards in your school.

I wish I took advantage of this in my first two years of university—it’s something I really regret now. There are so many amazing opportunities to gain experience, to learn about yourself and what you want out of your career, and to be part of a professional industry. And that’s something that we shouldn’t take for granted, no matter how many readings we might have.

Megan Stacey

Megan Stacey is a fourth-year journalism student at Carleton University. She enjoys writing about lifestyle topics such as food and fitness, or profiling inspiring people and places. Megan loves dessert, travelling, and old-school group exercise classes.

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