University – Maximising Your Time!
Given the time of year we’re in, we at Rice At Home thought it would be expedient to continue our series in providing top university tips. With many people starting degrees in the next month, as well as continuing degrees, and perhaps even heading into final year, we thought that we needed to touch on this particular topic, which is how to make the most out of your university experience, and maximise your time. So without further ado, here are some things to consider
This is the time to really decide, understand, and finalise where you want to go in life and how your decisions will impact your future. If you haven’t yet found a driving purpose, goal, or target for your career, this is exactly the time to do so. Not to be crass, but wondering aimlessly in and out uni with such little direction is a sure way to find yourself unsatisfied, and unfulfilled in your future career at 35, wondering where it all went wrong. Which is what we are trying to help you avoid. What do you want for your career? Odds are, having picked your degree you have some semblance of what you want to do, and where you want to go. You should be researching insatiably, contacting industry professionals, and seeking all the information you can get your hands on about your field, until you have narrowed down exactly where it is you want to go, and what it is you want to do.
After working out your target the next step is to work backwards. Find out the steps you need to take to get to that place, and PLAN based on that. What experience will you need? Will you have to do a year of voluntary work after your degree with no pay to get into the industry? (I’m looking at you, bio-med students. Don’t be the oblivious ones). Plan around it. Again, research. The more information you have, the better you can plan. Be purposeful, and take your career by the horns.
Having found purpose and planned out where you want to be, and what you want to do, you need to start optimising your time. At university, especially in first year one thing you’ll soon realise is that time is something you have a lot of. In fact, this is the freest time you’ll ever have in life up until retirement. Before university, school takes up a lot of time, and if you speak to your recently graduated counterparts they’ll tell you how demanding full time work is; exhausting both your time and energy. They say youth is wasted on the young, of course meaning that the vibrancy of one’s young days is never truly appreciated in its time, but rather pined for once long gone. The same applies to uni students and free time. At uni, your degree shouldn’t be seen as the ultimate goal, so much as the baseline. Coming out with a degree is really the bare minimum, and this is very much reflected in the saturated job market where virtually everyone has a degree, and jobs are competed for on the merits of experience and good interview technique.
Whilst at uni, make it your mission to pick up extra skills, and create an experience outside your degree which will boost your profile and value. If you break down what a job actually is, you essentially get paid for your time based on the projected value that you can add to your workplace within that time period.
Furthermore, uni is the perfect incubator in the sense that you have plenty of guidance and support. There are a few ideal times in life to start a business, or begin working on a stream of income. Learn a skill that you can make money from, or alternatively create a service from. If you can do this and build up a cash reserve or better yet, start investing or learning to invest; you put yourself in an excellent position for the long term. This doesn’t mean that fun must go out of the window. There are simple things one can do to enjoy university but equally be productive. Personally, my friends and I are big FIFA fans (message me if you want a challenge, I’ll send you my PSN). However when I’m playing FIFA, I rarely ever have the commentary or music on. The TV is on mute, and in the background an audio book, podcast, or sermon will be playing where I can learn something which pertains to my career, and where I want to go in life. Small compromises like this all add up. A year ago I knew little about finance, now I have lengthy arguments on Twitter about market conditions, whether bitcoin is a fraud and if Under Armour’s stock price is going to recover. If you use your time well and learn skills fast, uni is a great place to experiment and test things out because you have the advantage of expendable time, and energy paired with the security of uni being a safety net. Both you and your time are precious and valuable. If you value your time highly now, employers will value your time highly later.
Your network is your net worth. I’m sure you hear this a lot! The reason it would be asinine for me to vilify fun at uni is because the people you have fun with are the people you form bonds and deep friendships with. Networking is an incredible force multiplier, and the people you know will bring you opportunities and grant you favours that will further your career, improve your life and if you pick wisely, upgrade you as a person. Picking good friends and networking will continue to help boost your career even as far as 10 years into the future. You’ll keep receiving support and opportunities from people you went to uni with. Not only that but good friends will challenge you to be a better you by 1)Constructively showing you your weak points and helping you improve them and 2)By excelling themselves, giving you the motivation to keep up. Beyond that, having good relationships with people on your course will be helpful when it comes to exams and assignments. Your degree may just be a baseline, but if you fail to reach that baseline you’re wasting a whole lot of money.
Beyond that, use your free time to attend networking events. Talk to people, you’ll find that in sharing your dreams and goals others will be willing to share theirs; and there is a wealth of sublime advice out there. The other day, I had a conversation on the train which resulted in a graduate job offer. I don’t even have the degree yet. Similarly over this past summer I attended networking events almost every week and met all sorts of people; from investors, to business owners to potential co-founders for projects I’m working on. I really have no business having meetings at the Shard, but because of who I know I’m there regularly. I’m not technically qualified, and I don’t even get regular trims but I’m invited to places people have worked in for 10 years to try and squeeze into; and once I get to those places, I showcase the skills I’ve picked up from making effective use of my time.
And as if by magic, doors open…
What can I do but get it popping? #RAH