Welcome back to another Monday blog. As much as I love blogging, I still dislike Mondays. Very, very much. However, I do like thinking about how every passing Monday brings me closer to my first full year of employment. As I mentioned in last Monday’s blog (http://bit.ly/hJl8nq), not only will this be my first year as a professional, but also my 2nd full year as a university graduate.
I’m in this sweet little spot of being a recent grad in a full-time job where, of course, I am still learning the ropes of the “real world.” Working on Career Options has allowed me to leverage this sweet spot to help other students, by looking back with a new perspective on my transition from student to professional—and sharing it with you, my lovely readers.
So, to get to the point, here are a few more things I wish I’d done in university:
Taken More French Courses
I was in French immersion from kindergarten until high school graduation. I always took my French skills for granted, until new government regulations came out requiring all government workers to have basic French knowledge. French was never a big priority for me in university, though. I never bothered to take a single French course, and so, of course, my capabilities decreased to the point where I can understand, but I’m not very comfortable in French conversation.
After I graduated, I went to an interview in Toronto for a post-grad diploma program at Humber College. I mentioned that I was from Ottawa to other students, and they all got excited and jealous when I said I spoke French. I have never actually seen people jealous of my French. Living right next door to Quebec makes French not seem that special… until you get into the workforce. Having an “early French-immersion certificate” written on your résumé is like handing an employer the golden ticket.
If you don’t know French, learn a little: take a basic French course, either at your school or elsewhere. If you do, keep your skills up by taking some French courses, reading in French, listen to French radio, or speak to your friends in French.
Our great country has two official languages, so make sure you can operate in both.
Used School Resources More Often
Students pay on average $5,000 in university tuition per year, maybe more. Where does that money go? It doesn’t just line the pockets of the President and Deans—instead, in a way, it comes back to you. A couple of points here: first, many Canadian universities are technically not-for-profit organizations; and second, the university’s success comes from your success. They want nothing more to see you graduate with honours right into your dream job. Why? It’s not just because they want your alumni donations. Successful graduates make the school look good to prospective students. Think of it as the circle of life.
So universities take that tuition money and reinvest it in the students, through different resources like support programs, networking events, tutoring—and most importantly, CAREER CENTRES! I can’t emphasize enough the importance of career centres. The whole reason you are in university is to get yourself a good job, but it doesn’t seem like most students take the time to meet with the career advisor who can directly link them to their dream job.
Career centres have so much to offer students. They put on their own networking events, have job postings for individual programs, offer 1-on-1 counselling for interview tactics… they’ll even help you perfect your résumé! Do yourself a favour and visit your university’s career centre, where the staff are wonderful and helpful people whose sole purpose is to get you a job.
Make sure you check out your university’s full list of resources. You’ll be surprised at what you have access to, FOR FREE.
Yes, I’m actually telling you to go out and party—especially if you live off-campus. Living far away from school can be really harsh on your social life (trust me, I speak from experience). At parties you can meet so many great new people who can then help you in your studies or your job hunt. Get connected to as many people as possible and you’ll always have resources to reach out to when you need them.
And if nothing else, parties are great for blowing off steam. If you can’t go to the party, invite the party to you. All the people I knew that lived around me used to get together and invite the people from school to come to the suburbs for BBQs and such. So go get yourself out there, and use this as an excuse to go party!
Is there anything you wish you had done in university—or wish you hadn’t done? Leave me a comment below!