I was on a roll after PCMA12 – during the conference, I had three job offers, and I had a few more at home, as well as offers for internships and so on. In the end, things seem to have worked out for me, for now. A few days ago, I signed with Toronto-based startup EventMobi, working with them from May.
Despite all happiness, when I first got offered the job, there was a question nagging me: Why on earth would I spend four years reading books, slaving away at internships (most of them were great nevertheless), going to lectures and accumulating $30k in debt if my first employer would not even bother looking at my CV or grades or education in general?
This is especially true for fancy subjects: I am more than happy that my GP studied medicine, bus drivers have a driving licence and my lecturers have been to university before. But you don’t really need to have studied event management, marketing management, tourism management or Bachelor of Honours in Fashion Knitwear Design and Knitted Textiles (I did NOT make that up). Should you actually study?
The short answer is: Absolutely.
Reason 1: It buys you time.
After finishing high school, going to university gave me extra time to figure out what I would like to try in life. Even though students keep complaining about the massive work load, it actually is a quite care-free time of your life. So why not take this time, study something, earn a degree, but keep enough time on the side to think things over.
Reason 2: It gives you an opportunity to try.
University gives you three or four years in which you can do internships, volunteer or work in various places. Nobody will question why you changed jobs often, nobody will question why you worked as a gardener one and as an accountant the other year. Also, people will most likely forgive your mistakes. Screwing something up as an intern does not really damage anything, but it will teach you a lot. That is, if you find internships that allow you to experiment.
Reason 3: A degree is a degree is a degree.
Even though it might not be a classical engineering, medical or law degree, most “fancy” degrees still root on a business degree. That being said, even though you specialise, you will still find ways to use your general knowledge in other jobs and other areas. Also, often in job adverts, employers are not too fussed about what you have studies, as long as you have. In turn, they might even look for diversity in their workforce.
Reason 4: It is a great time.
University does not only teach you useful and serious stuff. It will also teach you a million useless things, how to shotgun a can of beer, how to play beer pong or how to brew beer in the first place. It also leaves you the space to travel and do stupid things. Doing stupid things is really important. Trust me.
Also, studying is a time where you can find out more about people, and increasing your social skills. While watching a movie or going to a bar. Brilliant, eh?
Reason 5: You learn.
Stating the obvious, going to university or college gives you the opportunity to sharpen your learning skills and raise the bar of your method. Profs are terrible when it comes to form, and here’s your chance: learn how to properly format documents, how to present facts and so on. Of course, the real world will look different from what you learn inside the university walls, but the foundation will be rock-solid and of much use later on.
Reason 6: You can start your network
As a student, you will often find that, if you ask the right questions, people will be more than happy to help you and to teach you. People don’t see you either as competitors or employees, they see you as students, and are often more frank and honest about their feelings and impressions. Sometimes at conferences, you will find that attendees don’t like students because they are there on business and time is money. However, mostly people will enjoy your company and you can learn.
So, don’t be afraid when your granny asks “What are you going to do with media studies? Won’t you be unemployed?”. Universities (unless you go to Oxford or Cambridge) are about what you make of them. And if you decide to make something good of your university career, in the end things will work out. It is more important to see that you have a blank canvas, and it’s your choice to have it painted by the end of your four years.
I am not sure if that’s the right advice to give, but it worked for me. What do you think?