Have you ever paused from life and asked yourself: What the hell am I doing? and what does this first degree really mean for me?
For most of us, I’ve observed, we did our CAPE exams in sixth form and a couple of months later, we matriculated to our first year of college (UWI, Utech, etc.) without grasping the understanding of a degree. We feared the world of unemployment so much that we jumped into college hastily, without any real thought into what we were getting ourselves into. I remember I had this grand impression that I’d be a qualified professional in my field after this degree.
But then the truth was revealed to me. The truth about the system and my place in it. And it’s a truth I’m sure all of us can relate to: the FACT that I’m only TRAINABLE with a first degree. All that money, sleepless nights and caffeine just to be trainable. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but it’s for your own good. Doing that degree in Economics, Political Science or Linguistics will not make you a qualified economist, politician or linguist after graduation.Frankly, your beloved GPA means nothing to these employers who want to hire you.
What I’ve noticed too is the prevailing reality for most graduates is that the first job they happen to get is generally foreign to what their degree expected them to do. This is because when employers see college grads they don’t see ‘ready made professionals’. What they see are blank canvases that they can create works of art from. What wins them over though are those canvases that are already outlined.
These are the graduates that have built a skilled foundation for themselves already, that won’t cost the boss much to continue building on. Always remember these employers are business people, and cutting costs will always be their game. So they’ll most likely go for the student with certain skills useful to them that the university degree doesn’t teach you.
And we all know these students. Some of us even despise them. They were those same students that were described as being ‘NUFF’ for taking the initiative to get a UNIVERSAL education out of the UNIVERSITY experience. They were the ones that chose to be the volunteers, school clubbers, athletes, guild councilors and student leaders in our little college community. These students I believe are the ones with the ‘outlined canvases’, and there’s no doubt that they will be the employer’s first pick. This is the way to turn the tables on the system.
So to all of you sixth form students looking to do a degree in September, limit the freedom celebrations and use some of your Summer to THINK. Assess your strengths, identity your interests and seek out the degree that offers that compromise. To you students who just finished your first year, I want you to take heed mostly to what I’m saying. You have two more years to create a nice outline for your canvas. Spend those years wisely. Get involved in a club, society, sport team or a guild committee and learn as much as you can from each experience. As for my second year graduates, who feel as if you’ve wasted your first 2 years doing nothing, you are exactly right.
But relax, you haven’t failed at life or anything, but you’ve definitely set yourself back when it comes to getting a good job after graduation. My advice is to use your last year to do some networking on and off campus, get involved in as much things as your schedule will allow and just try your best to make up for the lost two. There’s no shame in being late to the dance, what matters is that you put on a show.