Though education is a never ending process and one should remain a student for life, actual student life for everyone ends anywhere between 20 and 26. Yes 30 is too old but in few courses it happens. Core focus of our education is always the grades and marks. We start learning the lessons of life once we come out from university and actually go into the professional world. In my career i have seen students or freshers not knowing things like
- How to take print outs from a word document
- How to save a PDF file from internet and bring it to a different PC
- Counting a bundle of notes of mix denomination
- Depositing their first salary check in to the bank
- Getting beans sprouted for next day breakfast
- Formatting a computer
This proves our Education has prepared us for university exams but not for life. There are several other things which educates us for life and i recommend teenagers and youngsters doing these as early as possible in their lives. You would never get a chance to do majority of these things after student life.
Here is my list of 10 things every student and fresh graduate must accomplish before they enter the professional career.
1) Work long hours and nights
Work life balance is just a sweet phrase and a bitter lie, specially for achievers. You have a lot of free time with almost zero responsibility. Put up your consistent 24 hours, 34 hours or 40 hours for something, some interesting project or activity without sleeping breaks (Mind your health as well). Do it at least 2 times in a quarter. Increase your limits, increase your efficiency. Build a desire to “Finish” something and feel satisfied with that. This will actually help having some work life balance later in the life when you have a spouse and kids to share your time with.
2) Talk in Public
Yes communication and public speaking is essential for corporate growth and i have seen hundreds and thousands of aspiring professionals struggling with this, hence with their career. It is very easy to get a chance to speak in public as a student. You have several options like college functions, class talks, competitions, project presentations and discussions within your own groups. Be courageous and build some guts of public speaking at this age. There would be too little chance to learn this essential corporate skill in corporate world.
3) Visit companies and people
Do you if any company in this world will let you enter their shop floor while you are working as a software engineer with some different company? absolutely not, but as a student you have that privilege to get through the scrutiny and see various factories, companies, offices and institutions. You can absolutely start this with organization where your parents work. Go inside, meet people, see those giant machines and understand the processes. Interact with professionals not only of your domain of interest or education but with all others. try to meet few good doctors, few architects, supervisors of factories and software test engineers of IT company. this will broaden your vision and help you making better career decision. Yes only thing you need to learn prior is better human antiquates and skill of asking right questions.
4) Do Jobs, Projects and Training with industries
Being an Intern is a matter of pride and working on various projects with or without any payment is a great way to learn. Again you should diversify your training experience starting from a cake shop to a restaurant to a factory to an accounting firm to a software company to a great startup like Milople to a huge organization like Google. Everyone will help you for sure if your behavior is polite, you are sincerely committed to your work and your intentions are good for being there.
5) Getting fired
I have fired fresh graduates sometimes and learnt that getting fired is an important event in life. I have observed people getting fired in one job doing very well in their next job. Because they have learnt “What not to do” at profession. Be it a performance issue or behavioral one, getting fired should be considered as a lesson with punishment, which otherwise you might not learn. So if you are getting fired, thank god for this and learn everything you need to learn here. Yes this should not happen second time ever in life!
6) Managing Accounts of Time
Be it money or time, managing accounts of everything helps you tracking how you actually use (and misuse) your valuable resources. You should keep a book or app in which you can write about your usage of time and money and make totals everyday. Build a spirit to improve it on everyday bases. This may make you most productive person from the day one of your professional career.
7) Be an expert
Start with smallest thing like sweeping your room and expand it to anything like repairing a complex wrist watch. Be an EXPERT of something. There are hundreds and thousands of functions in this world tobe entertained and you should start being an expert of many things right away. Be an expert in cleaning the home, preparing garden, repairing bicycle, algebra, graph theory, machine drawing, shopping from streets, preparing breakfasts, designing web sites and making mobile applications. Anything but many things of your choice.
7) Cultivate many hobbies
Having hobbies is good and being an expert is superior but being a student you have more options to do at this age. You are not yet fixed into a professional discipline and hobbies will give you closer view of many disciplines and identify your real talent. Don’t limit yourself to one or two but expand your hobbies and get interest at least for sometime even if it doesn’t interest you at all. Gardening, sports, swimming, chess, painting, making movies, photography, playing flute, learning new languages. There are many.
8) Be a backpacker
Being a backpacker and wondering the streets of unknown places is a ultimate teacher. We have very very little or tends to zero awareness in India for this but I feel one of the main reasons of success of western countries is backpacking culture of their people. Arrange for your own expenses. be in group or be alone and leave the home for sometime anywhere between 1 to 4 months. Yes travel is a costly stuff but you can make it cheapest. Travel by general class of train, leave in Dharmashalas, Eat beans and vegitables, walk 10-15 kilometres everyday in the city, these are all the ways to save a lot while travel a lot. Nothing will prepare you for life better than this. Believe me this is something I regret most for not doing in my life at student age. This I realized during my early days at Banaglore.
Apart from your studies, you should read a lot of other stuff. Cultivate the habit of reading a daily newspaper first. Go for magazines and books then. By any means you should spend an hour every day for reading new things. Books, magazines and authors I strongly recommend to read at early life are
- Shreemad Bhagvad Git. Dont chant, read and try to understand.
- Biography of Swami Vivekanand and at least 5 other people
- Safari magazine which comes in Gujarati and English language
- A magazine or Blog of your domain of education
- Few books on Indian history
- Chanakya, Savarkar, Shivaji, Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel, K M Munshi, APJ Kalam
- Robin Sharma, Warren Buffet, Dipak Chopra, Joseph Murphy amongst International authors
- Stories of organizations like Tata, Google, Apple, TCS, Amazon
10) Educate others
You should learn lessons from social and charity work specially by educating someone. This passes knowledge to next level and helps you improving your communication, having empathy being a good manager and a future leader.
I wish if we can have many students trying to accomplish all these during early life when they are students. This will not only help them kick starting their career well but also help us building a better society and stronger country.
Though there are several other things you can do as student, my list covers 10 most important things as per my knowledge and beliefs. One can suggest more new topics as well as discuss the points I have written in comment section bellow.
All the Best!