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How I made the most of my time at university

By Sana A

Updated February 24, 2022 Updated February 24, 2022

The global population of university graduates is expected to almost double over this decade and reach 300 million by 2030, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

With such a high number of graduates competing for work, I had to ask myself how I could stand out from the crowd and bag the career I aspire to have. For me, it was all about squeezing every last drop out of my time at university so I could graduate with as much experience as possible. 

Being a student is about so much more than going to class and studying for your degree, although that part is important! Here’s how I made the most of my time at university, as an Electronics and Communications Engineering student at B.N.M Institute of Technology at the Visveswaraya Technological University, Bangalore. 

Starting the day right

Creating a morning routine was the first step to help me get the most out of my student experience. Time is an asset, so before I get caught up with my to-do lists and studies, I dedicate some time to pray, make a healthy breakfast and start off with some positive affirmations before I plan my day. Taking control of my day from the very beginning helps me to find discipline and get more done, which sets me up for making the most of my time as a student.  

Trying a new project

Being active in finding new opportunities can feel daunting, but I wouldn’t have known what I was capable of if I had not tried to push myself. Creativity has been identified as one of the most trending attributes to have between now and 2030 and I had a few ideas in mind that I wanted to try. 

I’m very interested in social impact and as a budding engineer, I wanted to combine the two to solve a relevant problem in philanthropy with technology. I used the skills I acquired in robotics class to start a side project, building a prototype that assists people with a disability. I asked some engineering friends to help, and it’s become a really fun project where we all learn from each other to improve our skills. We even won ‘Best Social Innovation Award at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Guwahati. 

Work experience

Finding experience in my subject area is one of the best decisions I’ve made. I started looking for opportunities to put my new engineering knowledge into practise and found a role as a Service Sales Engineering Intern. Although it was nerve-wracking stepping into the workplace before I graduated, I learned so much about the technology in vertical transportation, practical business know-how, prioritising workload and meeting deadlines, and I gained exposure working in an international environment.

Sana on work experience

Spending time with friends

Having a break from studying to have fun with your friends is a necessity. I always make time for my friends every week. Not only do we check on each other for support, but we also go out and try new things to make life-long memories. At difficult times, seeing my friends makes my day and helps me through.  

Volunteering

I’ve always wanted to help others. After all, they say that happiness comes from giving and I was happy to learn that. By volunteering with charities and philanthropic organisations, I learned lots of transferable skills like public speaking, management skills, how to collaborate and empathy. It brings a different purpose to my day and will help me to stand out when looking for work after university.  

Sana and friends volunteering

Finding a mentor

Midway through my degree, I felt like I’d gained a better understanding of what I wanted to do for a career, but I needed some guidance on how to get there. After asking around, one of my professors offered to mentor me when they heard about my interest in product management and the projects I’d been involved with as a student. They helped me to prepare for mock interviews, networking with engineers, provided me with helpful resources like blogs and answered any questions that I had about the industry. It helped me to be focused in achieving my goals. 

Exploring my city and beyond

While at university, I make sure to explore as much of Bangalore as I can, spending time in the restaurants and cafes, sightseeing, and wandering around with friends. During semester breaks, I’ve had enough time to explore other cities with my friends too. We travelled to Goa for a budget-friendly way to re-energise from university life. I even travelled to Assam and Shillong as part of my involvement with projects for university. 

These experiences gave me a greater perspective. I learned to celebrate diversity, respect differences and enhance my social skills. It’s one thing that’s key to developing a global career in the future.  

Sana exploring her city

Hobbies and student clubs

Once I had settled into life as an international student, I decided to try out some hobbies for myself. I joined a gym and went along to the university cycle-o-thon which opened me up to a more social side of student life. Joining clubs and societies is a great way to meet new people outside of your course and to do something you maybe wouldn’t try otherwise. Most of the times it was about putting myself out there even when I felt nervous.

My university experience gave me the skills and knowledge I needed to become an engineer, but it also gave me so much more. I learned to try new things for myself, to enter competitions, to earn some money, to help others and to make amazing memories that I will remember well into the future. 

This article was originally published in February 2022 .

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