Things you Should be Doing While You’re Still at the Uni: From a Student That Regret Not Doing It.

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Photo: Institut Sains dan Teknologi Nasional/istn.ac.id

Today is 27th of June, 2020, and I’m in my 4th year of university now and will graduate next August. I am in the process of looking for a job, and I found it difficult just to get myself noticed by the recruiter and get called back. I realized that I had missed too many things at uni that otherwise would give me a more interesting CV that will get the recruiters to call me back. Now that I have noted the problem, I just wanted to share with you all the activities I should’ve done so that you did not go through the same hassles.

How I began my university years

I enrolled at my university in 2016, majoring in Business Management. I had to say this uni is one of the most prestigious in Indonesia. I was timid, kind of introverted at the beginning but slowly growing more and more involved at my campus.

I joined the student body at my campus, hoping to get a glimpse of social life and experiences that I hope would make my CV a little bit more interesting. It seemed to me that everything was okay, but what I oversaw that time was that I didn’t really have concrete plans on what I should be doing. I was just taking all the opportunities that came to me, not proactively seeking for better opportunities.

I enrolled at my university in 2016, majoring in Business Management. I had to say this uni is one of the most prestigious in Indonesia. I was timid, kind of introverted at the beginning but slowly growing more and more involved at my campus.

I joined the student body at my campus, hoping to get a glimpse of social life and experiences that I hope would make my CV a little bit more interesting. It seemed to me that everything was okay, but what I oversaw that time was that I didn’t really have concrete plans on what I should be doing. I was just taking all the opportunities that came to me, not proactively seeking for better opportunities.

Should’ve picked the bigger things

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Image: nataka_/vectorstock.com

My uni had a lot of student organizations, ranging from the world-wide AIESEC up to smaller leadership development organizations sponsored by companies. From those wide selections, I could’ve picked one just to improve my skills and experiences which was very nascent at that time, or just to improve my CV that will be super beneficial for myself in the future.

But guess what? I didn’t even flinch at those experiences. I guess my intra-faculty organizational experiences would suffice, and that those leadership-development organizations would be just another activity that I already got here in my department’s student organization. Turns out that will be the thing I really regret now.

Things you should be doing in college!

Sounds like I have implied it indirectly in the previous paragraph. But those are just examples of what I could’ve done in my university. There are just too many good things that will help you big time later on in life if you do them at uni. Now that I’ve regretted that, I don’t want you all to suffer the same mistake. Here are the good things that you should try to do while still in uni to help you improve your CV dramatically.

Student Organizations.

The first thing, the good stuff that every student should join. Being a part of a student organization, you’ll most likely end up participating in a multitude of activities such as events, seminars, exchange with other student organizations, and many more.

By doing those activities, you will get exposed to many of life’s essential skills, such as relationship building, managing projects, making reports, or just getting the atmosphere of working in a professional manner. Get promoted such as by becoming a coordinator or head of department and you can unlock more skills such as leadership and project management.

Another often overlooked benefit is the opportunities to broaden your network. Who knows that the person you met when you were both handing out brochures about the next seminars will be the one that will help you go through that company’s hiring process?

Committee Membership

You may encounter many events at the uni, like seminars about the current economic situations, job fairs, or celebration of your uni’s lustrum, and there will always be a student committee that manages them. Become part of it and you can see how fellow students can bring CEOs of big firms to talk at the seminar, or run job fairs that help thousands of people connect with employers.

Usually, those events are brought by the student organization they are related with. A good thing for a committee member is that usually you don’t really have to be an official of the student organization to join them. Usually, the university also has programs that are managed by students and you can volunteer to be part of the committee running it.

What is really good about being part of a committee member is that you’re really working on creating projects that usually involve real important people such as CEOs of firms, or big organizations like your own university. Again you will learn how to teamwork, manage projects, and interact with professionals participating in your event. There are also a lot of challenges you will encounter, such as working with limited, often restrictive budgets, or difficulties in finding the right speakers for your seminar. But that’s an integral part of committee life that will make you stronger, and give you the experiences needed for your future career.

Volunteering

Sometimes, volunteering can really open your eyes to all the problems and challenges the society faces. There are a wide range of social volunteering that you can pick, ranging from volunteering in your own city to international volunteering programs where you will help people in less better-off countries around the world, usually offered by larger organizations such as the UN or AIESEC.

According to the Institute for Volunteering Research, volunteering will enable you to develop your ability to sense people’s needs, become more emphatic, and train your ability to solve problems and think through different perspectives. These are essential life skills that will help through your career and even life in general.

Don’t just think of volunteering as another obligation. Researchers found that volunteering students are happier, relieved of their stress, and are more grateful with their life. Furthermore, often volunteering comes with the ability to take day-off and visit interesting places in the volunteering locations.

Internship

Ultimately, there is no better way to learn your future career than by doing it. Fortunately, bigger firms usually have what we call an internship, a program whereby students can get involved in real working experiences at their office for a short-term. In most cases, those with excellent internship performances will be placed in a “talent-pool”, a set of potential candidates that will be invited to work for the company after they graduate.

There are wide varieties of internship available and it depends on the firm offering the internship. Big multinationals like Unilever, P&G or McKinsey have their own internship programs that revolve around the year and last for two up to six months. Even, smaller national firms and government offices often have their own internship programs catering for students from all majors.

With an internship, you can gain real working experiences from the office which will ultimately translate as better experiences. Moreover, you can use an internship to find out how your “dream” job is, so that you have time to reflect and change your mind in case it is not suitable enough.

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Internship offers a direct hands-on experiences of the job of your dream. Photo: Kate Lusignan/bowdoinorient.com

How to select which one you shouldtake?

Well, of course there are wide ranges of student organizations, committees, volunteer programs, and internships that you can pick. How would you choose the ones you should take? Often, a lot of student may wonder what they should take, but at the end, the answer comes simply by understanding what their goals are. What do you plan your future to be? Pick among the selections the one that is suitable with your education and your future career plan. Want to be a consultant? Join the department of public relations or project manager to get the relevant skills and seek internship at consulting firms. Want to be an entrepreneur instead? Being head of committee members or taking an internship in a firm that closely resembles your dream company will help you get all the abilities you need to have and the hands-on experiences that you can get.

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At the end of the day, there are just too many ways to get experiences that may not be listed here, but the list will hopefully help sort out the plan for the activities that you will take at uni. Lastly, it is not only the matter of what you have done, but also how you did it, and a single extraordinary achievement you did in one of these activities will be more beneficial than doing many of them without significant results.

My goal is to inform and inspire through my stories and help people live their life to the fullest.

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