Originally published on FutureRising.com
Your last year can in fact be the most fun and transformative year of schooling. But it can also be stressful, overwhelming and anxiety ridden, as you attempt to start your career while taking the most difficult modules in your degree. Your final year should centre around making yourself indispensable, not replaceable.
I finished my undergraduate degree a few years ago and made mistakes in every area I’m about to discuss so when I started a masters last year, I vowed to not repeat them. I am now finishing my course and this is what I’ve learned.
GRADES UNFORTUNATELY STILL MATTER
I would argue grades are not the most important part of your CV, but they do make the rest of it much easier to talk about. They are less a measure of intellect than they are a measure of work ethic. It took me a couple years to find my system for studying but once I did, it made it much easier to get involved in other activities. On a CV, good grades are the primer, everything else is the paint.
As Dale Carnegie said, "To be interesting, be interested." what he meant was if you would like to engage other people, the best thing you can do is be interested in them. This means taking a genuine interest in many different topics.
During the four years of my bachelor’s degree, I probably read a total of one book outside of assigned readings while this year, (after realising how boring I was) I’ve read about 20 books for enjoyment.
If you want to build a rapport while networking in your final year, the best thing you can do is have more to talk about than the other students in your cohort and that starts by stepping outside your comfort zone of knowledge. Go take a cooking class or pick up a book about a banana mogul.
PARTY LIKE AN ADULT
Invite friends over and make them dinner, go to that new pizza place with a group, or host a potluck. A dinner party is where real conversation can occur and friendships can flourish.
I’m not saying standing in a student flat with 100 other people shouting at each other and breathing in the fog of humanity is not fun, but perhaps there are better ways to spend your time. Work on making nights you remember forever, not ones you can’t even remember the next day.
START WORKING ON YOUR SIX-PACK NOW
Despite what you may believe, you have more time on your hands now than you will once you start working, so now is the time to establish your routines. It can make a tremendous difference.
But this new routine can be journaling, exercise, reading or any other daily practices you require to function at your best. By putting these in place now, you make it less likely they will be swept aside when you have less time for them.
KILL THE PUBLIC SPEAKING NERVES
If you have been avoiding presentations and public speaking, it’s time to stop. I hated public speaking so this year, I volunteered for every group presentation and pitching opportunity and inoculated myself to the nerves and fear of speaking to large audiences.
It’s scary, it makes you sweat and turn red. But, this means if you can get good at it, learn to love and not fear it, you will set yourself apart from everyone else.
FINALLY, ENJOY BEING A STUDENT
Once you’ve done the work, take time to really soak in the last months of being a student. Enjoy and nurture the friendships you’ve made because on the day you graduate, all those friends will become your network.
Being a student is a choice to always learn and seek out mentors. Put aside the applications, essays, and notes for a while and go take advantage of what it means to be a student.