When we have an exam to sit for in three weeks’ time, we spend much of our time revising the syllabus and the information we have absorbed since the beginning of the semester. The number of days we have to prepare our brain is not the only figure that we keep track of. We also worry about our Grade Point Average (GPA) because we have been told that our chances of landing our dream job increase if we graduated with flying colours.
Throughout my time at the university, I spent countless hours doing my research for a law assignment. There were times where I was invited to go out and have fun, but I declined so because I wanted more time to prepare for a test that was mere days away. In fact, I spent more time in the library than literally anywhere else each semester, and I did so because I valued my GPA more than anything else. I understood that if my GPA is impressive, it will be of tremendous help during the early stages of my professional career.
However, if I have a chance to do it all over again, I will do things differently. Although grades are of significant value, they alone do not promise you a dream job. You need to supplement your academic pursuits with tangible work experience, and doing so means you will need to spend time outside of the classrooms from time to time. In other words, there are many items besides your academic scorecard that can boost your chances of being employed. Your work experience, history of extracurricular involvement and mindset are crucial elements and should not be sacrificed for your grades.
Instead of aiming for a 4.0 GPA, I learned that even a 3.0 GPA is a stellar accomplishment to possess. I am not saying you should lower your academic standards; what I am pointing out here is that you should not let your grades be the ones deciding how you use your time while you are still a student. Keep planning for the future and work hard to seize relevant opportunities early on.
Rather than paying attention to your GPA, here are a few things you can focus on:
1. Strive to obtain relevant experiences.
“Experience is a great teacher.”John Legend
Whether you are a college or university student, you are not limited to the confines of the classroom. There are infinite opportunities to acquire experience in your field if you have the drive to capitalise on them. For example, if you are a photographer like me, you could work for the school’s student publication. Likewise, someone who has a passion for broadcasting can take a shift at the university radio station on a weekly basis.
Even local organisations can provide eye-opening experiences that will add strength to your resume. You can gain experience in everything, from creative writing to graphic designing, just by keeping a watchful eye on local opportunities. Although they do not come with big monetary rewards, they can serve as baby steps on your future career path.
2. Start to think long term.
Do not trick yourself into believing that you have ample time to look for a job opportunity. You should identify your career goals the moment you start your major. You will need to look out for employment opportunities long before you graduate because the application process can be both time-consuming and overwhelming. Do your homework on the types of organisations you may want to be employed by, take the time to understand what sort of roles you can fill with your area of study, and apply for an internship position when you have a long study break. Hit the grounding running by creating a LinkedIn account and start networking with professionals in your chosen field.
“You can’t build a long-term future with a short-term thinking.”Billy Cox
The more ready you are for the job search, the less daunting the process will be when the time to show yourself inevitably arrives. In the process, searching for job opportunities may introduce you to some contacts which you can rely on in the future, especially when you switch career paths. Here is a pro tip: employers look highly at forward-thinking, self-driven candidates. Adopting a strategic approach in your job hunt enables you to hone these skills and catch the employers’ attention.
3. Work hard, play hard.
Being a student can be exhausting; the endless number of assignments staring at you in the face, crazy roommates, tight deadlines, and moments of debilitating loneliness (that is just me). However, it is also perhaps one of the best times you can ever have in your life. So, enjoy it while it lasts. Once you say goodbye to student life, you will not have the luxury of sleeping in every Monday or bask in the sun while walking to the campus. So, savour these things while you can, even if it means you have to sacrifice a small portion of your reading time.
“Play hard, but enjoy every minute of it.”Natalie Gulbis
It is not worth thinking obsessively about the less-than-desirable grades that you got when you have gone through your very first exam period. They are not going to affect your career as a brand account manager. What matters to employers are your recent accomplishments and character. Hence, it is all right if you did poorly in some subjects, as long as you make up for it by highlighting in your resume the good things you have done outside of the classroom. Remember to keep the optimism, maintain a professional attitude, and develop a set of well-thought-out goals for the future.
Final 2¢: It is all about balance.
Being a twentysomething is tough; you have academic grades to watch out for, work experiences to obtain, extracurricular obligations to fulfil, and house chores to attend to. With so many responsibilities, it is difficult to find a healthy balance. However, although it is challenging to be a well-rounded individual, you have to find ways to stay that way. The immense pressure to keep a 4.0 is just not worth it because it will do you more harm than good. All you need to keep in mind is to work hard, have fun and choose happiness first.