I often pride myself in living a life of no regrets — no matter how tough it gets, I figure that precisely what is meant to happen in fact will. That mindset carried me through a lot of tough times, but it stopped short when it came to understanding why my university experience was playing out differently from what I had envisioned.
Not necessarily worse or better, just different.
As I enter my fourth and final year, I think of all the things I would’ve done differently were it once again September 5th, 2018. Inevitably, there are times where I’ve come to regret certain things — more often than not, the regret is a result of omission.
But in an attempt to revive that “no regret” mindset, I felt it better to reflect on my past from the lens of a lesson rather than a remorse.
Lessons are best learned when they can be shared, and in hopes of offering some value to incoming first- and second-year students, I compiled a small account of what myself and some of my peers have come to learn from our experiences.
First, track everything you do — accomplishments at work, volunteering, clubs, any extracurriculars or hobbies. All of this combines to paint a picture of who you are in this place. It serves two purposes: it helps you understand what you like and don’t, and more applicably, when you are compiling your resume and preparing for interviews (often full of behavioural questions), it will make it infinitely easier to have your experiences within arm’s reach.
A mentor once told me that an experience has no value unless you think it does. Whatever you have accomplished, you need to believe that there was a purpose and a worthwhile result.
But as for my peers, here’s what they wished they knew.
“It’s not necessarily about learning and memorizing the content you learn in each class, but rather developing soft and hard skills that will help you learn to become an adaptable, resourceful, and well-rounded professional,” says Stephanie Stalteri, Bachelors of Business Administration (BBA) 2020 alumni.
“Don’t be afraid to reach out to people you don’t know and ask questions that will help you in a course. Get to know your professors personally in the first few weeks of the course by emailing them. Do prep for the class the night before so it’s fresh in your mind. Smile more when you walk through campus,” says Christina Andreu, fourth-year BBA student.
“Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone,” says Aagash Jegatheeswaran, final-year BBA student.
“I wish I knew the importance of communicating with peers and professors about course work,” says Justin Kalirai, final-year global political studies student.
“Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you’re unsure and make sure you have fun while learning!” says Prakshi Prajapati, final-year BBA student.
“Everyone gets a reality check in their first year, just focus on getting good professors and actually learning the topics. Don’t get caught up with being told you have to start networking the second you get in and join all these clubs. Instead, figure out what you would enjoy working in, through talking to people in the industry to get a good idea of what working there would be like” says Jatheeshan Uthayakumar fourth year BBA student.
If at any point while reading you thought to yourself, ‘but how?’ The rather unsatisfactory answer is ‘however you choose to do it.’ There is no one right solution or approach, just as there is no magical answer that will guide you down the exact path you’re meant for in life.
Rather, you have to go out and do it. If there’s anything you’re genuinely interested in at York, pursue it. There is an opportunity somewhere out there that you need to actively seek it, even if it may take an unconventional form.
Beginner’s luck makes you more likely to succeed than fail, so you just need to start somewhere.