The Best Piece of Advice
People often get asked 'what is the best piece of advice you were ever given?' For students, this is normally aimed at industry professionals as a means of getting any inside knowledge on what could have propelled any certain influential individual to reach their current position and status. Arguably, however, this question somehow goes amiss by not being directed at recent graduates or even fellow students. As if their opinion was somehow worth less since they are not renowned individuals in any particular field.
This, to me, seems foolish. Questions like these are exactly the types of question that should be addressed early on in anyone’s career – and yes, for the sceptics, I do believe an individual’s career begins at University rather than post-education. After all, without a solid foundation, how can anyone be expected to progress and make a name for themselves?
No matter what University you are or are considering studying in, perhaps the best piece of advice (at least this far into term) I was never given is: make use of the University’s resources.
I’ve been paying regular trips to the library since the start of term and have been building a healthy collection of borrowed books (circa 11 now) which are all stacking up nicely in my living room; but more than books and libraries, Student Unions - for which I confess I wish I had more spare time to interact with - and extra-curricular activities, make sure to allocate plenty of time to the undeclared curricular activities.
And by that I mean all the extra lectures, talks, seminars and events which are not part of the curriculum but which you are extremely likely to be able to experience at one point or another. Before commencing my MBA I didn’t realize just how much time I would spend in a classroom or lecture theatre outside class time. At my Uni, we have weekly seminars with sports industry professionals which are open to the public. Being open to the public might make one think these aren’t really suited for the class modules in any particularly significant way and that they will / already have enough to get on with. One would be unwise to make such an assessment.
A postgraduate education is meant to deepen a student’s knowledge in any particular field of study in a much more self-initiated way than a Bachelor’s degree ever could. Now I don’t mean to sound preachy about MBA courses, but these lectures, talks or seminars are actually an integral part of what makes a postgraduate degree exactly what it says in the tin. The seminars at my University may be open to the public, but that does not mean they were tailored to the public. Instead, they were organised to compliment the theory studied in the classroom and is bound to also be the case in any other reputable University.
So make use of them! Use and abuse them. Engage with the speakers, with fellow colleagues who aren’t in your classroom week in, week out, read the books that aren’t listed in the curriculum. If it sounds like more than what you signed up for it’s because it probably is. And yet I wouldn't have it any other way - nor, I expect, should anyone else. Ultimately, your degree will only get you as far as you are willing to commit to it
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