When I was younger, my older peers advised me to treasure the times of being a student because life was only going to get tougher.
I didn’t really understand what that meant but I do now.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing. It really is. Having come a full circle, I sometimes look back at University career and ponder on what I should have done differently. I realize the many things that I took for granted and wished I had the chance to do it again.
Here are my top 5 things I wish I knew back at University.
Not seeing every student as a networking opportunity
My University experience was bags full of fun. I met a lot of people from many backgrounds everyday; in lectures, classrooms, parties, social clubs, sports etc and had good relationships with them. It is then a real pity that I didn’t manage to maintain any of the relationships made during those days because it never occurred to me that everyone was a potential networking opportunity to build contacts.
I regret not trying harder because if I had retained those relationships, who knows how it could have helped my professional career? I say this because the “kids” that enjoyed University with me all those years ago have now become well-connected men and women of stature who jet-sets around the world doing big business.
In the big bad real world, it is almost always about who you know rather than what you know.
Not immersing myself into different cultures
When I first started my new life in Australia, I mostly only mingled within the Asian community. It wasn’t because I was racist, but it was always the easier thing to do because I was in my comfort zone. No awkward hellos and handshakes to deal with, no need for navigating through cultural sensitivities or having to face individuals that I couldn’t get a long with.
Boy was that a mistake.
I regret not opening up myself to other cultures because my University experience didn’t teach me anything about cultural nuances. My eye opening moment was experiencing my first Christmas dinner with an Australian family and followed by the traditional Boxing Day Test cricket match!
Thinking about it now, I’m ashamed to say that it took a full 14 years after I first arrived in Australia to experience a quintessential Australian tradition.
Focusing on earning money during University
Like most students, money was a scarce resource and the only way to get more was a part-time job. The problem was that the money more I earned, the greedier I got. I unfortunately spent a substantial amount of time chasing the small money – $8 per hour – jobs and sacrificed away time to actually enjoy being a University student.
Because of my eye for money, I didn’t get to experience University like it should have been experienced. I didn’t join drama classes, participate in clubs, go away on student camps, learn musical instruments. None of that.
All the social skills that I should have picked up in University were missed because I was busy chasing the money. And it wasn’t even a good amount of money!
Assuming that a double degree was a good idea
When I was filling in the blanks on my University enrolment form, I thought it was a good idea to enrol into a double bachelors of Commerce and Information systems. “Two degrees to my name, how cool would that be?” I thought.
Thinking about it now, it was definitely anything but cool. I knew from the very start that I wanted a Finance career so I don’t know what went through my head then that convinced me to sign up for a Information Systems degree. I won’t go so far to say that it was a complete waste of my time but I have to admit it wasn’t the right course for my chosen career.
There were plenty of other more productive things I could have done in those 2 lost years; a gap year, a Masters degree, additional working experience, volunteering, could have even started a blog earlier! Many people might disagree with me but I am a firm believer that industry practical experience teaches more than formal education; that was certainly the case for me.
Not recognizing lecturers and tutors as industry professionals
I now know that being a teacher is anything but easy. This is especially so if students don’t give them their deserved respect and credit.
I unfortunately didn’t give much attention to my teachers back in University which I regret very much. As a student, I was always on the lookout for industry mentors who I hoped could teach me a thing or two about being a finance professional. It never hit me that most University lecturers and tutors come from industry and had plenty of experience to share.
All I had to do was ask!
I foolishly looked everywhere else but my classroom not knowing that a gold mine of information was just sitting there waiting to be tapped. If only I made an effort to know my teachers, I could have gained industry experience a lot faster.