What the university will not teach you – making the most of your university experience

What the university will not teach you – making the most of your university experience

The case of unpreparedness for the workplace environment at one point or the other has continued to affect many university graduates.

While many employers complain about graduates being unprepared for the world outside the four walls of the university, others see differently. Although, it is common knowledge that the university is a fantastic community known for many opportunities, there are some things (skills) which the university will not teach you. Students, therefore, need to learn these skills if they are going to generate an incredibly satisfying career financially and socially.

#1 workplace staples
Education will teach you to make a 2.1 degree or have the ability to talk in front of two hundred people, however, it is not enough to get you employed without the knowledge of workplace staples. Workplace staples can mean skills in problem-solving, decision making, teamwork, multi-tasking emotional intelligence, organization etc that keeps the office running and functioning. It doesn’t matter if you’re a genius, if you can’t communicate well enough to work in a team, you’re next to useless in the workplace.

#2 Work Experience
While the university may help you get that top grade, they’re, however, negligible assets in the market place. Nobody cares that you can remember A-Z of your course work from 100 – 400 level. Can you work with an Excel spreadsheet and get a report in on time? Can you sit at a desk all day and remain productive? The only way to prove this is through work experience. Doing work placements and internships as an undergraduate is key to acquiring a student’s work experience.

#3 Look outside the expected workplace
The traditional expected workplace for most students is largely considered to be tied by their programme. For example, a student of Law may be expecting to work in a Law-related firm/organizations. This is the mindset you get from the university. Hence, while still in education, many students will rather stay within the confines of their programme than a stretch to acquire new knowledge. Universities need to teach students the value of being flexible and mobile.

#4 Curriculum Vitae (CV) & Cover Letters
A Lot of new graduates with first class/second class degrees will face a lot of rejections simply because the university has not taught them how to write a decent job application including a CV & Cover letters. As far as practical application is concerned, the university will not teach you step by step, the sections of a CV, how to fill the work experience section or teach you how to sell yourself in a cover letter. Instead, students will be asked to write compulsory final year research which they’ll more likely never care about again.

#5 Professional Networking
The ability to understand common work staples, build work experience, look outside the expected workplace and draft a good CV and Cover letter is important for a student’s career but without professional networking, students will find it hard to get the right contacts in their career pursuit. Professionally, the university will stretch you with assignments, group projects and the likes. At most, hold careers fairs and invite representatives but not teach you how to network with people who are already in business or who are managers of larger enterprises. Hence, the need for a stimulating environment where students can practice their questioning skills, their elevator pitches and build their confidence in a networking environment.

Finally, it is important to note that the university community may be conservative but flexible. Therefore, students should be able to demand of their university through the students governing board, students service department etc, of an environment that allows them to pitch themselves without seeming inexperienced because recruiters, business owners, company directors and managers will always hire someone that can give a positive and lasting first impression.