10 Things I Wish I’d Done At University (Part 2)

Date Published: October 28, 2014

Welcome back! I hope my list of points in Part Two will help you pave a better future for yourself.

I wish I had made it a point to read more widely during my time at uni. Instead of just learning my course syllabus, I wish I had cultivated that thirst to know more – more about current affairs, world economics, politics, science, geography, finance & investment, the stock market, IT, business, sports, fitness, health – anything that could help me understand how what I study at uni applies to what’s happening in the world around me. It would also give me things to talk about with whoever I come across. And I wouldn’t have been such an ignoramus in my first job as a fresh grad.

What do I mean by trusting myself more? How many times have you been in a group or class, and when a question is asked, you could hear a cockroach scuttling across the floor instead of someone offering their views? I’m guilty of keeping quiet. I think I doubted myself too much. I was always so afraid of speaking up or voicing my opinions for fear of being wrong, or being laughed at. (Or maybe it was my lack of knowledge due to points #4 & #6.) So what if my answer was wrong or inaccurate? The worst case scenario is that we were wrong, but in the process we learn from our mistakes, but don’t always second-guess yourself and think that what you have to say won’t count. Learn to speak your mind and share your views. In turn, we all learn to respect one another’s opinions and give feedback in a constructive manner. Employers like an assertive person – someone who’s not afraid to share their ideas or opinions and yet gracefully accepts correction when appropriate. Trust yourself more but don’t let arrogance get to your head.

If I had started thinking about what I wanted in my future career when I was in uni, I’d have talked to adults about it – people who are out there making their own careers. I’d find out as much as I can about the fields I’m interested in, the kinds of jobs that are available out there, and find out what their views were about it. That would certainly give me a better perspective about what I would want in my career. I’d probably also have tried out as many short-term internships as I could fit into my time at uni. That’s a sure-fire way to find out what the working world is like, and what’s important to me in an employer.

Money. If only there was more of it right? For those of us who did not have to pay for our own tuition fees, we are very blessed. What I wish I had done was to learn the proper way to manage my allowance, and to keep track of my spending. Perhaps if I had learnt back then about a structured way to look after my finances, I would have no trouble handling my salary once I started working. The truth is, it took me years to understand my spending habits, and to decide how much money I needed to survive each month, and in turn, how much I should save. Once you start working and earning your own moolah, you realize how difficult it is to earn money and more importantly, to save it. The temptation to blow your savings on a luxury item like a new handphone every 6 months is very great – but if you are in complete control over your bank account and what’s in it, you should be able to exercise restraint and know when you’d be able to afford it.

Good habits – we all need them. And they all have to start being cultivated somewhere. Self-discipline is one of the hardest traits to instil in ourselves, and I wish I had done that from uni days. As they say, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Well, you can but it takes much longer. The key here is realizing that you need to. Waking up early, and sleeping early – they say it makes one healthy, wealthy and wise – I believe it’s true. Unfortunately, students do the exact opposite! You’ll realize that time is a very precious commodity, and what you do with every minute of your day matters. So wake up early and make the most of your day. Another big thing – punctuality is something we Malaysians never seem to get. Now that I’ve worked for so long I see how important it is at the workplace, in meeting clients, even in meeting friends. It actually says alot about a person’s self-discipline and time management skills, and more importantly it tells others that you respect their time that they set aside to meet you. Keeping healthy – this applies to our diet and exercise. It’s a good time to build this habit of eating healthy and making sure we exercise regularly. Once you start working, it gets harder because you have less time & energy to do it and unless it’s become a part of your routine, chances are it never will be. All these habits tell others alot about you – whether you are someone of integrity, honour and trust. I know I’d definitely trust and respect someone who’s always on time (early, even!), demonstrates self-discipline and doesn’t have damaging bad habits.

That’s it ladies and gentlemen. I’ve shared my personal experience, thoughts and feelings on a topic that I hold close to my heart. I hope you found it both beneficial and useful. Enjoy your uni life and make every second count.

Part 1 of the 10 Things I Wish I’d Done At University Series.

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