29 July 2017

pre-University advice, in between & post-graduating experience ...

I cannot believe that it has been two years since I graduated from University and believe me when I say my post-University experience is nothing like the expectations I had set.
Now everyone's story is different and in this post I am only sharing my experience, my story and all the lessons learnt along the way. Whether you are still in University, are thinking it or have just graduated I hope you get a great deal from this post. Let's get right in shall we:

1."Wherever you are, be there".

First things first, be present!
Honestly three or four years goes by so fast and before you even blink, time is up and you are off onto the next adventure. I say, cease the moment and enjoy University life (whatever that looks like for you personally).Whilst you are at it, build friendships because life is better with others + some friendships will genuinely last a lifetime.

2.  Do a placement year.
A little bit of a story
So I moved to Manchester after completing my 1st year of studies in Cambridge with the aim of taking a year out to pursue some work experience. However, that did not go according to plan and in hindsight I could arguably say that was probably the worst mistake ever (especially in my field of study). One of the reasons why I did not end up securing a placement was because I was ill-informed.
If a course says "with placement year" it doesn't automatically mean one will be offered to you.
In actual fact in most scenarios what it means is you have to find yourself an internship / placement / work experience and the University will give you their full consent to go and pursue it.
After the gap year the University will welcome you back and allow you to finish off your final year of study. You would think that was general knowledge, not for me it wasn't (at the time).
*Lessons learnt ...
Try to secure a placement when you are in your 1st year of University. 
If you live in the U.K, most companies offer placement / internship opportunities between September and January. Make sure that you are constantly checking their careers websites and signing up to their newsletters, attending careers fairs...
Another way of getting the best work experience is by doing a graduate scheme / an early careers opportunity and most companies offer these to graduates (of course) but applications are normally a year before you complete your final year of study. Unlike placement opportunities that open at the beginning of the academic year, graduate schemes are open around May time all the way until end of September. 
Make sure you get the time scales right.

3. "Saving requires us not to get things now so that we can get bigger ones later".
University life and all its demands can cause us to forget about securing a better future financially.
If I could offer any advice at all it would be, save up as much as you can!
For example, if your finances allow you, open up an ISA mortgage account, deposit the £200 minimum every month and by the end of three / four years of study you will probably have enough money for a mortgage deposit and you would have done yourself a lot of good. Find out more about Help to buy ISA here.

4. Hard work always pays off!
Your study years are no longer than the many years ahead of you.
Studying is an investment in yourself, work hard at it, achieve the best results possible and trust me when I say you will enjoy the fruit of what you've sown. Hard work always pays off!

5.  "Do not despise the day of small beginnings ..." [Zechariah 4:10]
Its important to remember that no one ever started from the top.
Personally I think if you are at the start of your career, humble yourself (you are not selling yourself short) and be willing to start from somewhere then work your way up. 
Don't underestimate what opportunities arise from simply getting your foot in the door. Getting in means you can prove yourself, take every opportunity as it comes, advance your skill set and then secure positions you would have always aspired for from the very beginning.
Arguably it can be said that it all depends with the industry that you are in but whatever the case, humility is a key asset in life and a coachable spirit will take you places.
Another thing I would highly recommend is to have someone that mentors you in your career that has either gone before you and/or is where you want to see yourself. Make them your friend!

6. "I know the plans I have for you ..." says the Lord.
On the night of my graduation I received my certificate and a note that read,
"Congratulations, now what?"
Society or rather the world in which we live in has arranged patterns and conformed standards we are to fit in, for example, education comes first (at least up to the age of 18). 
A"perfect" model would look like this; 
education ➡️ career ➡️  house ➡️ marriage ➡️ kids ➡️ everything in between then finally retirement but  I think who we are should be determined by whose we are and that should govern how we do life altogether. 
If you've been reading my blog long enough then you would know that after completing University I went on to do a leadership and character development course (Protege as it was known at the time, Audacious School of Ministry as it is known as now) and if I'm really frank those were not my plans. I battled with the decision to do what I felt God was calling me to do because my default setting that was instilled in me was to follow the "perfect model".Knowing full well that I had heard God about what I ought to have been doing in that particular season obedience became no option. Doing what God wanted me to do as opposed to being on my own wild good chase in this thing called life was by far a better option.  
With that said, when it comes to the different seasons in life the question always is what is God saying now? 
Subsequently it is our duty to be faithful with the next step (pro-active) as His children. Sow the seed {apply for jobs}, water the plant {follow up on applications / attend interviews) and {leave it to God} watch God make the plant grow 
{1 Corinthians 3:6-7+context added}. 
Even though I was on Protege I applied for many jobs and attended countable interviews that came to nothing. [in hindsight it can be argued that maybe my only focus should have been on the assignment at hand (Protege)]. Soon after graduating from Protege I kid you not but that same week I had back to back interviews lined up.The beauty of it all is that now I understand why I had to wait and why obedience was key because there are lessons I couldn't have learnt elsewhere but only in that season (Protege). The adventure that did await was above and beyond what I could have ever dreamt or imagined and anything I could have settled for prior would only have been a bowl of soup{Genesis 25:19-34}.
In another post I would like to share on:
  •  one of the most controversial subjects: is going to University worth it? 
  • and even though I don't think I've mastered the art of interviews, CV and cover letter writing and I don't think one ever does I'm sure I can share a thing or two.
  • last but not least: how to deal with disappointment when we don't get the job because it has happened to me and inevitably it happens to the best of us.
Thank you for your readership and please do join me again as we continue this two part series!

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