15 Key Successful Factors that I wish I know before I get into University
Often to fight a good fight takes strategy
The beautiful pink cherry blossom has manifested nature’s revival after the cold winter, meanwhile, it concludes my first year at the University of Western Ontario. Throughout this academic year, I have tried so many new things and occasionally felt blue at sometimes of the year.
Majority of us would definitely believe that the surroundings are so different in university when you find yourself competing in a way more competitive environment, it gives you the motivation to push yourself further meanwhile you are anticipating a lot of challenges/failures ahead to confront.
Here’s what I learned working in Western University:
1. Your Journey is not going to be full of highlights
I have dedicated hundreds of hours editing my resume, sending cold emails, taking online courses and attending conferences. As time gets closer to summer, many of my peers have secured their summer internships/volunteering work yet I have only been more stressed out.
There were no big milestones, no encouragement and plenty of rejection emails. In University or finance, not everything is going to be as great as expected, it’s never going to be back-to-back show-reel of Instagram highlights where we win everyday.
One of the major mistakes where our generation has made is formulating SUCCESS. There will be periods of massive growth and then there will be months and even years where nothing happens
2. Try everything
I have decided to come to Canada all by myself two years ago and I have only regretted it for three months; I have decided to attend a University which is 200 km away from my home and I have never liked it any better. One day when I had just finished my soccer practice, one of my friends asked me to try out for the school’s rugby sevens and since that, I have developed another hobby in rugby.
Learning something new gets us access to new and different opportunities and the chance to try new experiences that might be the best ones you have ever tried, cherish the opportunities given at University.
Change can be dramatic but it keeps our work exciting. It keeps us growing and becoming better at what we do. One of my key rules of thumb when considering a change in life — ‘If you have doubt, do it’
3. We grow in secret
I used to think that most entrepreneurs have developed a sophisticated killer instinct whenever they work, but the reality is I was completely wrong.
A human is just an accumulation of social experience, meanwhile, a leader is the one who is capable to accumulate the good ones and manage the bad ones. All pitfalls in your life have contributed to a lesson unconsciously, the pace of growth will depend on the exposure you gain and the passion you have towards.
Even your heroes are fearful when they have to perform, but they do it anyway.
4. You can’t avoid public speaking
Public speaking is a basic form of communication and mastering it is how you get across your thoughts, initiatives and tell phenomenal stories. Within this generation, many of us may think that public speaking is only important when you are in the field of politics, sales, advertising and choose to ignore it. In fact, the diverse changing workforce is lacking people who are able to present themselves to others and negotiate to clients.
Try pronounce ‘Hard’, ‘Realistic’? You can’t speak them aloud without slowing down. Everything takes time and practice to master, never ignore your weaknesses.
5. Carry the Sportsmanship to school/work
School is just another warzone of academics, where we are constantly put into battles and competing with others. We might easily develop a sense of rivalry towards colleagues and schoolmates, and I definitely discourage it because we should be helping/supporting each other out against our real competitors outside of school/workforce. Acts like providing false contents, online bully, cheating are absolutely not appreciated.
Working under high-stress environment may lead to unethical thoughts and develop a sense of rivalry, but keep that in mind we are a community that should be accountable to each other instead. It builds culture, builds reputations and builds healthy relationships.
6. Definition of Networking is Helping
What we have been taught is ‘Your network is your net worth’, ‘over 70% of the jobs are recruited through connections’, therefore a lot of students have considered networking is work and see it as an indirect way to ask for jobs. I have seen people who sent generic messages to thousands of professionals on Linkedin for job/network opportunities.
Within the first year at university, just like everyone else I found networking frustrating and asked really dumb questions, but I have realized to build a network takes more effort than you think, and not necessary everyone would be suitable/willing to join your network. Here are a few tips I would genuinely recommend to fellows:
- Be genuine about yourself in front of yourself, present yourself as unique as possible so that the recruiter will recall their memory about you easier (Never fake an experience btw)
- Pick a balance between professional career and personal interest, be interested in himself/herself, instead of the job/company you wanted to work for
- Maintain a 70/30 ratio of speaking time, contribute your own ideas after his/her response and take the responsibility to keep the conversation going (ask questions!)
- Prepare for phone calls and networking, additional contents such as the company recent news, industry changes, mutual schools/hobbies would be a plus!
- In group sessions, never ask relevant questions because it would only show your impatience and selfishness. (i.e you should ask about the company when he/she is talking about his vacation experience)
7. What you have for lunch matters
When we talk about being productive, after removing distractions, we should also be aware of the food you eat. I was eating Popeyes chicken tenders and a load of fries and it caused me to be sleepy in the afternoon, the food I ate had just killed my productivity.
Being biological productive is often less recognized by students, but I have realized the effectiveness of having a proper lunch towards my study is significant. Bread, Fruit, Yogurt, and rice are super helpful and convenient within my meal preparation.
8. Music is not necessarily useful while studying
When you enter the library, it is more common to see people studying with earphones on than without, but does it really help your personal study? Having music on is able to remove distraction within the external environment, but the music itself would possibly become another distraction where you start paying attention within the chorus lyrics instead of the calculus contents.
The type of music does matter as well, rock/hip-hop music is able to speed up your blood circulation which leads to a highly concentrated state of mind in a short term and a mental fatigue after an hour, pop music is most likely going to distract you from study and instrumental music might sometime be a useful tool to speed up your study progress.
Here are some links I feel comfortable and efficient studying with:
9. Never take the time out from gym for school
We all should understand the overwhelming stress during a particular busy season and exams might have taken a lot of your personal time off but gym should not be part of it. These exercises help us to look better, and boosts our confidence and improve our mental functionality.
With this in mind, you will eventually get better in self-control and time management. There are a lot of things going on over your life, just like a bottle with rocks, marbles, and sand, top priorities should be prioritized first than ever.
Whenever I am considering whether if I should take the gym time off to study or rest, I ask myself why did I start gymming in the first place.
10. The balance between flexibility and responsibilities
When I first have gotten into university, I wanted to get involved with my floor, wanted to join Western investment club, wanted to join soccer intramurals, wanted to take time to go home visit my parents, wanted to attend Friday Nights Worships and Sundays’ Sermon as well. It’s rewarding to have all those interest and dedication but this year I was extremely overwhelmed by those activities and next year I have to segregate and reduce my responsibilities. In this way I can be less stressful to perform tasks better as well as I can save time whenever whammies/unexpected opportunities happen within myself or my community.
The accumulation of commitments might feed up your schedule and fills the emptiness of the flexibilities you are given in university. Last but not least, never make a commitment towards something that doesn’t align with your personal/professional goals just for a better-looking resume.
11. Make a To-Do List & Done List
Most of the people might already have their google calendar/to-do list note on their phone, but you should give a try to make a Done list on the top of your To-Do list. The purpose of the Done list is to provide inspiration whenever you have finished your jobs — perfect way to end off a day. The list of accomplishes has shown a longitudinal study/work progress and it magically makes you more confident and motivated towards upcoming challenges as well.
You To Do List would not be able to reveal much about you, instead, you Done list certainty does tell your identity.
12. Schedule ahead of the year
Maybe this sounds really unfamiliar with students but I certainly believe this act saves me a lot of energy in the long-term. Deciding which competitions, conferences, events, vacations to go next year ahead has made a phenomenal impact towards yourself, other than better organizational of time in terms of preparation and scheduling, scheduling ahead provides us motivation to embrace the challenge, which eventually leverages our experience.
Time allocation skills have been one of the most difficult things to master and I believe getting as much of the anticipated ones out would definitely help us to envision how will our upcoming year is going to be like.
The last three advice I would say is pretty much thought-provoking based but often forgotten by a lot of people.
13. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.
‘Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish’ says by Steves Jobs as he pointed up the world has never ever stopped developing and changing. Stay hungry means do not ever be satisfied with what you have achieved in the past because if you do so you’ll eventually fall behind by society. Keep learning and always look out for the future. Stay foolish means to always challenge yourself, think about something that has not been achieved yet, do not ever limit yourself from others opinions at any circumstances.
“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
14. Be yourself
There are going to be too many people to compromise, too many opinions to shut you down, too many distractions to divert you away from your goals. Temptations do not necessarily be anything illegal or hurtful, could be anything that takes your effort away from your key focus and they should be removed away.
At University temptations are real and scary, whereas you have to stand firm to who you are and what you believe. People surrounded you do make a great impact on your personal goals and I will definitely say sometimes less friends contribute more to personal development in this scenario
There’s always a social dilemma between attention and achievement, and 95% of the people would choose attention because they don’t want to be called ‘weird’ when they choose the achievement.
15. Forget Sprinting. Life is a Marathon
Almost everyone can sprint. But the road to mastering any skill requires consistency just like a marathon. Don’t expect to be the best at writing, launching, starting a great company in just a few steps. Don’t give up whenever you fall from schools, extracurriculars, and relationships. It’s not a smooth journey and everything requires your persistence.
Sometimes you may feel like you are stuck at a maze with no way out and no purpose in life. But there is always a way out. Find it. All the struggles you have now are an only a little part of the journey and the ultimate lesson of life is to find your way out.
Stop approaching life like a sprint. Stop thinking that you can put in a pile of effort and rapidly reach your intended finish line.