Lessons I Learned the Hard Way From My Undergraduate Degree

It feels unreal to be writing about my undergraduate degree retrospectively, but with less than a semester left of school left it makes sense to get into the habit. So many people have helped me throughout my journey by sharing their wisdom in moments when I needed it the most. Undoubtedly, experience is the best teacher of all; there is only so much you can learn without living through your degree yourself, but here’s to hoping these tips help!

  1. 1. Your path is yours alone.

    Don’t feel that you have to follow anyone else’s journey!!! I entered my undergraduate degree completely unsure of my long-term career goals, which is fine in itself, but it meant that the motivation to study and do well in school was hard to come by. As a result, I ended up having to switch to a different program halfway through my degree, something I had never expected I would need to do. However, this ended up being somewhat of a blessing in disguise; it forced me to finally start considering my career prospects and exposed me to all the different paths I could choose to follow once I complete my degree. I finally realised how flexible my career path can be; there are so many ways to get to your long-term goals, so remember this even when you face any setbacks.

  2. 2. No experience is wasted- be open to new experiences.

    Try out as many new experiences as you safely can! I can honestly say that each experience impacted me in some way, and once I learnt how to talk about my experiences (for interviews and resumes) I realised that each experience had contributed to my skillset as well. Also its never too late to try new experiences; even if you have just one semester left it never hurts to join a new club or learn a new skill if you have the capacity to.

  3. 3. Learn how to leverage your skills.

    Learning how to talk about your skills and experiences is just as crucial to your career as gaining them in the first place! This is something I am still learning how to do, and it definitely didn’t come naturally to me, but practice makes perfect. If an application requires you to talk about your ‘strong problem-solving skills’, don’t feel like you must have had years of experience in a research lab to do this; that part time job you had as a sales associate in a busy store, or the summer you spent as a camp counsellor are both rich sources that you can draw from.

  4. 4. The job market is very dynamic; adaptability is key.

    This applies more to some career paths than others. However, generally, job requirements change over time and for better or worse you need to be able to keep up with these changes as best as you can.

  5. 5. Keep track of all your accomplishments.

    When you start writing CVs and resumes it can be hard to remember all the experiences you have gained over the years. Fortunately, there is a simple solution to this- keep track of everything as it happens (and I mean EVERYTHING). You never know which experiences will come in clutch a few years from now.