Going into my last two years of high school, all I ever heard was, “put the effort in now and take it easy when you get to university,” or “university will be the best years of your life.”
While these statements do hold some truth, I made the mistake of following them blindly.
When I got to university I was unwilling to learn and only did the bare minimum. That is, until the end of the first semester came around and I was hit with reality. I didn’t have good grades, I wasn’t making friends, and I wasn’t involved with any campus events because, well, I was following other’s advice and coasting.
I had spent my entire semester trying to “rest” without making any effort to get involved. I didn’t really try to build relationships with classmates, learn class material or ask questions when needed.
Because of this, I felt like I was being left behind, while everyone around me was thriving and creating life-long connections.
Determined to turn this all around, I set out on a mission: to get the most I could out of my university experience in my second semester.
I shortlisted campus clubs I had a genuine interest in and joined them. I participated in study groups to meet people and I asked questions when I was confused. By doing this, I was able to better myself and make the most out of what was left of my first year.
However, that’s because I was opened to change.
If you ask me, that’s the most valuable lesson I learned back then: no matter the change, always remember to embrace every moment and make the most of it.
Having recently graduated, I’m now beginning to dip my toes in the employment pool, and I’m not going to lie to you, it’s definitely a little frightening.
At times I’ve been unsure of what to expect, how I’d be treated by others, whether they’ll see me as a burden and if I’ll actually be able to make a difference.
With all these questions running through my mind, I found it important to just remember that I wouldn’t have been hired if I weren’t bringing something unique and interesting to the table.
By pushing my self-doubt aside and making sure I’m fully involved, I’ve not only been getting the most out of my experience, but I’ve been able to create something both I and the organization can be proud of.
Just remember, part of being involved includes an openness to learning. Most tasks you’ll face in the real world may not require your current skillset, but that’s okay. Just be open to the learning process.
When someone asks if you’d like to jump on a task in which you have a genuine interest, but don’t have the skills, don’t reject it immediately – say yes!
Preface it by saying you may need some training, or instruction, and more often than not, what you’ll find is people are willing to teach you what you need to excel – and you can even bring your actual skillset in afterwards to make the task your own!
Through being open to learning, you not only build your own knowledge and skillset but will undoubtedly help those around you.
Ansia is a second-year student at the University of Toronto studying commerce.