Do it now, so that you don't regret the missed opportunities later.
At the university, we are constantly surrounded by new people, ideas, impressions, and opportunities. As a student, I had a very busy social life, that sometimes it was hard to do my essay on time. Faced with such abundance, it's easy to forget that it won't last forever. Many of my friends have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and several years of their lives on education, and now they regret that they did not have time to do something while they were studying. Here is a list of tips to help you avoid such regrets.
1. Write to the people you want to meet
This can be a graduate of your university who has achieved great success, a writer whose books have changed your view of the world, or a pioneer in a field that interests you. Find their email address and try to start a conversation.
Most of us are uncomfortable writing to strangers and are afraid of being rejected. But people are usually happy to help students with advice, so take advantage of this. Mention it at the very beginning of the letter. For example, in the first sentence: "Hello, my name is ___, I study at ___".
If you have something in common with the recipient-for example, you went to the same school or volunteered in the same organization — write about it too.
It helped me a lot myself. By the end of my studies at the University of Pennsylvania, I had two job offers: for a position as a marketing manager at Google and a place in a venture fund. Both jobs seemed amazing, and I didn't know what to do.
I didn't quite understand what each of the positions involved, but I knew that a few years after graduation, I wanted to start my own company. So I wrote to a very well-known venture investor and told him about my problem. He replied to me and advised me to go to Google to get the experience I needed. If I hadn't followed that advice, things would be different now.
2. Find friends you can rely on
My success largely depended on the people I met at the university. If I hadn't made friends with them then, my life would be different today.
Make five friends that you're willing to bet on. These don't need to be the future faces from the cover of an influential magazine. Let it be those who admire you and want to change the world for the better. Throughout a lifetime, they will become your support group, personal board of directors, and superhero team.
Do not delay the search for such friends for later. At the university, you are surrounded by thousands of smart people, so this is a perfect time.
3. Sign up for a course where you can get a practical skill
Although I liked my core subjects (political science, Japanese, and math), the most useful course was an additional course in graphic design. Perhaps, in ordinary life, it helped me more than all the other subjects combined. For my colleague, with whom I co-founded WayUp, the negotiation course was so important. Now it is he who holds meetings with our investors.
Find something similar for yourself. Even if your first job perfectly corresponds to the received specialty, you will definitely need other skills. Choose options that can be applied in different areas and that change your view of things.
4. Start your own project
For example, a business, an interest club, a publication, a public campaign, a film series, or anything else. By creating a plan, making it a reality, and keeping the project afloat, you will get an irreplaceable experience. It will prepare you for your future work, no matter what field you choose later. I realized that I wanted to be an entrepreneur when I was at university.
I doubt that I would have founded WayUp if I hadn't tried doing business at 19.
Students also have an advantage here. Sponsors are more willing to help if they find out that you are still studying and doing a university project. In addition, the university has teachers who can give advice, fellow students who are ready to participate, grants and awards, classes, and equipment. Use these resources while you can.
5. Find your Professor
It can be someone who teaches a subject that makes your brain explode in a good way. Someone who is engaged in research in a narrow field that is very fascinating to you. Or someone who looks at the world in a different way and from whom you can learn this view.
For example, I wanted to study with a professor: he is a real expert on entrepreneurship. But it turned out that students of primary courses can not sign up for his lectures. I came again and again until I was allowed to participate. Later, he helped me draw up a business plan that formed the basis of WayUp, and we are still good friends. I can say for sure that it was this professor, and not just his subject, that changed my life.
6. Go on an adventure
In adult life, there will be little time for this, especially at the beginning of a career. No more summer vacations, unless you're going to work in education. So take a break and try new things while it's easy.
Look for a summer internship abroad, go on a long trip, sign up for courses at another university.
Understand where the boundaries of your comfort zone are, and learn to step out of it. Try to find yourself in a completely unfamiliar environment. Then it will not be possible to carelessly do such things.
7. Get as much hands-on experience as possible
This does not mean that every summer you need to do an internship or work part-time in the same place. Try as many things as possible to make your experience diverse. This way you will understand what you want to do, what you like and what you don't like, what you can do and what you can't do.
Plus, students can change one job after another without being considered unreliable. However, if you do this every six months after graduation, it can worsen your CV a bit.