Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking to the University of British Columbia’s Marketing Association’s student cohort. This was one of the most pleasant speaking engagements I’ve participated in and a lot of credit goes to the UBCMA’s organizing committee. What made it extra special, however, were the thoughtful questions from the students on the video call — particularly the last question of the evening.
“What are some of the things you wish you would have known when you were a university student that you can share with us?”
This question struck a chord with me because I wish my university experience was different. While at Concordia, I was laser-focused on getting my career started. I wanted to be a broadcaster and I wanted to be one right away. Nothing else in my life mattered. At first, I spent every waking moment seeking any internship or opportunity to get my foot in the door at one of the local radio stations. In my final year, it actually worked and I was now spending my non-waking hours as a news anchor. Job done! I had succeeded.
Except three years later, I realized that I absolutely had no passion for this line of work and in retrospect, I didn’t take full advantage of some of the best years of my life.
To the student who asked me this question, here are five things I wish I would have known:
- Your university experience is about self-discovery. It’s one of the first times where you will have true independence over what you learn and how you choose to apply this knowledge. Be open to learning as much as possible about different subjects, themes and perspectives.
- Self-discovery also includes personal passions. I used to think my personal passion was broadcasting, but broadcasting is not a passion. It’s a work discipline. My actual passions are family, animal rescue and helping others be their best selves. You may not learn all of this while in university, but be open to trying new activities and hobbies. Some will stick, some won’t and that’s okay.
- Take time to get to know your classmates and make an effort to stay connected. I was fortunate to be surrounded by some of the brightest, kindest people while at Concordia. I wish I didn’t take that for granted.
- You will change your mind many times over the course of your career, so don’t feel pressured to set your 40 year plan while you’re still an undergraduate student.
- Be grateful to the people who helped get you to where you are. Thank your parents, your professors, your friends, your family and the many others who provided you with valuable guidance. Gratitude is an attribute that will never get old.
And most of all, just enjoy one of the best times of your life.
Everything you said is true. We all need to relax in the moment more than just focus on what’s ahead. Most people think of the destination and don’t enjoy the trip. I took university for granted and I wish that I would a have appreciated those years on the way to my career!