We have all heard of this statement. That we’re all more than our degrees. But what does that even mean? Are we ACTUALLY more than our grades? More than our transcript? Yes. Yes we are. But not for the same reasons you may think. I want to talk to you today about what it means to really succeed as a student.
Now, we all know how important it is to have a good GPA as well as meaningful experiences through extra-curriculars. It’s true, they are both equally important and as Telfer students, we must work towards finding a balance between the two to ensure ultimate success for when we step into the real world.
The question is though, what does "success" mean in this context? Does it mean getting A job? A DREAM job? A fulfilling University experience?
It’s different for everyone, but the "issue" here is that we want to reach this ultimate goal that is common between many of the other students around us, and that’s where the competitive outlook rises. And that is where our true issue lies.
Left, right and centre, students know that they must differentiate themselves from other students, and that’s normal. It’s part of business and it’s part of finding a job. But I often find that students feel the pressure to participate in activities and clubs because they feel like they HAVE to, not because they WANT to. Technically yes, we do have to push for these extracurriculars to have a well rounded experience for employers to consider us. But we tend to forget that employers want us to be as genuine as possible, and that includes ensuring all that we do throughout our university is done because we wanted to participate in those clubs, events etc. and not because the next student did it.
I often hear students say how they don't feel that they are "good enough", and when you ask them why, they say because everyone else seems to be doing so much more than they are. Why does it matter if student X is a part of three clubs and you're a part of one? Why does it matter if student Y was able to hold a first year rep position and maintain good grades while you didn’t?
The secret is though, it doesn't matter. We must all strive to push ourselves, and complete tasks and be a part of events and clubs that may interest us, but we should do all those things because we WANT to and because we genuinely want to be better. If we feel pressured to join clubs, then there's a distorted mindset that can limit the student from actually putting in 100% effort and/or learning from those experiences. And how is that beneficial for you or for an employer?
It's one thing when students feel they aren't doing enough, but it's another when students feel they aren't doing enough early on into their degree. I didn't participate at all in extra-curriculars within first year, because I wanted to focus on my grades and adjust to the university life, and I do not regret it! Don't get me wrong, participating in first year is a great way to ease into the university life, but I knew myself, and I knew that I would feel much more comfortable going at my OWN pace, not the pace of the student next to me. Now I'm a part of a club and I'm a Career Centre Ambassador, it's never too late to get involved!
Equally as important, is having a good personality and building those communicative skills with every opportunity you get. When I worked at the CFIA within the HR branch, my supervisor always reminded me that we can always train people the skills needed for a job, but we can’t train people to have a good personality. That's why as (business) students, it's essential for our success that we always strive to be better people from within, to be good team players, to be courteous, to learn how to handle social situations, to be good company and to love people.
And in this context, success means being the best character you can be, having the best grades you can achieve, and striving for new opportunities and experiences for yourself first and foremost, and that is what will get reflected to your future employer(s).
So here are the takeaways:
- Your degree is YOUR journey, take it at your own pace, and DO NOT compare yourself to others.
- Your university experience is the perfect time to reflect on yourself, your traits and personality. Use that to your advantage by attending networking events and engaging in group projects to really build your communicative, interpersonal as well as your intrapersonal skills.
- Overall, focus on striving to be the best version of yourself in every way, that's what makes you worth A LOT more than the numbers on your transcript.