I've been looking back on my college life and pretty much I'd like to share some of my old goals that kept me up and running. Have a step back and reflect on how much have you done so far as a college student. If you already graduated, that's fine and I believe this will be a good reality check in case you're wondering. With the tough market today in the industry, you need to set aside yourself on everyone else. Apart from that, what could be more fun on challenging yourself, making the most out of your stay right? I've written these sets of goals for you to get motivated plus to hone your skills before you officially leave the school grounds. For graduates, in case you never completed any of these, you now have all the time in the world but these goals are set specifically to a student as your time in school is very limited and there would be no challenge if you waited after graduation not to mention, there would be no sense of fulfillment for that.
1.) Be a Public Speaker on a Seminar at Least Twice
This will not only train you to become a good speaker and to build your confidence but also to gain network over your audience. You might ask why do I require twice? Trust me, once is not enough and it doesn't feel satisfying. You'd probably blame yourself for screwing up your first talk that you'd want to conduct another talk to polish out your previous one. I recalled my first talk some years ago I gave to several students that I talked about Visual Studio's features and benefits. I felt a little nervous because I might get some mental blocks on the way. I over-researched and memorized my handmade manuscript making sure my words would reach out exactly an hour. That was the biggest mistake I've done. As I feared, I had some mental blocks on the process but eventually, it turned out well. Although there were some flaws, it felt great preaching out your interests together with the audience giving you a round of applause. After that day, I keep on reflecting on the mistakes I've done and made sure to polish it out on my succeeding talks. Not everything on my script was mentioned as I figured out the art of public speaking. On my next talks, I never relied on any manuscripts as all of my talks comes from my heart and mind. That's pretty much the reason why you need around 2 of public speaking and that's to experience grasping the art of public speaking ;) Lastly, practice practice practice. You can't just simply master the art of public speaking by just a few talks. You need to gradually develop your self-confidence and train your mind to resist stage fright. These are things you can't simply learn in a single session so its important to consistently deliver talks.
Now, what qualifies as a seminar? According to Google, a seminar means "a conference or other meeting for discussion or training". There's a reason why I entitled this to a seminar rather than "Be a public speaker on a party" or "Be a public speaker on a family gathering". Just to clarify, the term "Public Speaking" is too broad so I'd break this down only to a more technical perspective. Personally, I'd prefer seminars than MC-ing/hosting because hosting isn't typically an in-depth task plus, it's pretty informal compared to discussing something on a subject-related matter in front of like-minded people. Your level of confidence differs from these situations and there's no challenge in talking in front of the people you know over and over again. Talking about subject-related matters are factual truths so you should collect proper data during your period of research and the art of "impromptu"/false information (not unless subjective) doesn't simply work that way. I mean what's the difference between pitching your success story to your family/relatives versus non-family industry professionals? One would be the feeling of fulfillment as like-minded people probably had experienced what you're talking about and knows the hardships you've gone through compared to a relative that would
pretend to be grateful about it so you won't get disappointed. From that standpoint, you pretty much get the picture.
At the end of the day, you meet new people and gain new connections. For me, the greatest reward for all of this is the inspiration you're giving to everyone. It's priceless.
2.) Build Something that can Benefit the Society
This can either be a fund-raising project, non-profit propaganda (in a nice and formal manner), a web/mobile app addressed to a certain problem, volunteering for causes, whichever you think works in a large diverse community. Here's the thing, students tend to have a common misconception for organization officers as these positions will make them a "true" leader but are actually used as "fillers" for resumes. The real fact is it's more of a test of self-confidence rather than a test of leadership. Don't get me wrong here but not becoming an org officer doesn't mean you aren't limited to serving the community right? Remember, these are just titles and titles don't dictate nor limit your responsibilities. I for one know some people who aren't even active in local/external orgs but they lead better than anyone else. A better comparison would be what happens when the student graduates? Comparing to those who became org officers to non (based on my personal observation), org officers already lost their motivation once the stepped of school while non-org officers that have the urge to develop the society tend to continue off what they started. The concept of title comes back into the equation as going back to its concept, they have no "power" anymore as they already finished their term.
Not that I'm judging nor basing everything org officers. It's just that people tend to overlook these so-called "titles" that they're terrified of having no privilege of giving back to the community without a title. Everyone has the right to make the community a better place regardless of a title and I believe you can do it with the right motivation and the proper attitude.
3.) Get Involved with Internal Student Organizations
I know this might sound a little contrary to my previous point but what I'm about to highlight is the experience you get. Try this out at least for one semester and play by ear whatever happens. More importantly, what I'd really like to point out here is getting more connections. This makes networking a lot easier than you think especially if you're involved with a university-wide one. Make sure to use your affiliations wisely and don't just join simply because of filling out your resume but because you want to learn and make something out of it.
4.) Get Involved with External Communities
Get be involved with communities outside your school. Other than network, you learn more about the same interests with people on other schools or industry professionals. This can boost your opportunities in the future and who knows, you might get back to the person you just met before. That can come in handy! For me, college life isn't complete without getting involved in one. The school doesn't offer everything and you can't assume that the school is always up-to-date with what's discussed in your classroom so your friends outside school can be your checkpoint whether if you're doing well or not. I can say this part was the biggest contribution to improving myself.
5.) Join Competitions Related to your Interests at Least Twice
Competitions will help you grow and nurture your skills. As much as possible, join competitions offered outside school. That's the greatest challenge you can get considering other schools have different approaches. Internal competitions would be okay but you'd probably know your opponent from before so I don't think you'd feel challenged as you'd probably tend to overanalyze him/her figure out a leeway for victory. Pursuing with someone you don't know is the real measure of skills ;)
One reason for not doing this is the fear of getting humiliated. Remember that you shouldn't be afraid of losing. Losing is just part of the learning process but that doesn't mean you always have to lose. Just keep on trying but remember whenever you lose, make it count. Sure you did fail but the real question to that is how did you fail? Not how many but how. It's best to have yourself re-assessed in any case that happens to you. Make sure to learn from your mistakes so that the next time you join, you're equipped with the right cards to achieve success.
6.) Take risks
No, I don't mean literally a life-death situation. The reason why people don't excel is they are too afraid to take risks. It really depends on how high the stakes are but sometimes, we just have to make decisions that would take us to the next level. In the end, we feel regrets that we never pursued any effort on it. Remember that time is finite and you have to make the most out of it. In college, you only have 4/5 years to make the right decisions so make sure you'd be wise enough to make decisions.
Note that risk is not just assessed solely on self-confidence but rather on how feasible the situation is. Don't just recklessly say yes to challenges that you think that isn't feasible. Take a step back and assess the situation whether its worthy of a shot for the bigger picture.
You know what they say, the biggest risk is not taking a risk.
7.) Have both a Mentor and a Mentee
I wouldn't call it a "College Life" without having a mentor and a mentee. Yes, you do have teachers that would guide you all the way but sometimes, academic officials aren't the best teachers you have. Personally, prefer a mentor from a higher batch that you think that can teach you extraordinary things and have a mentee that you can pass on your knowledge. You learn both ways as even mentees know stuff that you don't. Both are stepping stones to nurturing your talent. I watched a TED talk about the 33% rule and the speaker says that in order to live a growing life, you spend 1/3 of your time for people better than you (be it your boss, professional worker, etc), 1/3 with the same proficiency as you (where you could keep up and update), and the other 1/3 where you can share your talent. I find that rule interesting and something you should consider whenever dividing your time.
When was the last time you had both?
I hope that when you set these goals, you could carry them over even after graduation. At the end of the day, what makes you special are the things you've done outside the school.
P.S. - Shameless plug. For the record, I wrote this 2 hours before the showing of Star Wars Episode VII: Force Awakens at the mall. To be clear, 2 hours as in 10:00 PM and exactly 12:01 AM the show starts. Just waiting for the big show!