Going beyond the undergrad

As a university student it’s tough to want to think that your path into a career can’t go anywhere outside the bounds of a Master’s/Ph.D. or jumping right into any career.

The mentality that university is the only path to a career may not be the same as it used to be anymore, however pursuing other options as a means of achieving your “dream job” is just as plausible as attaining a masters is.

I want you to know that your destination and your path to what you want to do in your life is not limited to the university degree you achieve. Don’t hold the prestige behind a masters degree or a Ph.D. as the sole reason for going into grad school.

For your personal growth, it’s essential to understand that the pursuit of knowledge and learning does not end at the end of your degree. The college experience, internships, apprenticeships, masters, etc. are all viable options and experiences that contribute to your ability to be truly in the work that you love. I’ve discussed this issue before; we all hope to be students forever, yet we tell ourselves it’s over after our undergrad. I mean sure, as we grow older we don’t have a u-pass anymore, services that help us, and the comfort of being in school is gone. That doesn’t mean that our ability to keep learning shuts down.

I write this editorial as a reminder to myself and you that your life in whichever career you choose to involve yourself in, is never going to be steady nor is it going to be easy. If you just look for what’s steady, you look for comfort. For some, this is exactly what they hope to achieve and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. If you want to have experiences that push you to your limits, and allow an exploration of a whole slew of ideas and workplaces, it is in your best interest to de-stigmatize learning beyond an undergraduate degree. Attending a college after your undergrad is great for you to expand and specialize. Going to college or an apprenticeship lives on the same level as completing a master’s program.

Being ignorant of the possibilities from all kinds of educational institutions, pleads ignorance to the openness to various means of growth. Ultimately life is the pursuit of knowledge, the understanding that in the time that we have, we have to at least allow ourselves to pursue what we have access to without limiting ourselves and saying “well that’s all the learning I need to do, university means I am ready for the world.”

The truth is that the “real world” doesn’t care that you went to university. As “prestigious” as you may think university is, it isn’t the be all end all. The real world wants to know that you’re willing to continuously place yourself in a position to learn. This doesn’t apply to every field of work that exists, but for most it does.

The college, university, apprenticeship, etc., debate about one being higher than the other is an age-old argument that surprisingly still carries through students in universities. If you still hold yourself in a high regard and look down upon those who are in college programs or other means of education, you’ve failed yourself and limited yourself already in your own pursuit of knowledge.

I encourage everyone to be open to all means of learning. A few years ago, I completely shut myself out of the idea of ever pursuing a post-graduate program at any institution. Now I’m in one, and I couldn’t have been more grateful that I decided to do so.

Learning never ends. If you continue to attend UTM and still hold the fact that you attend “Canada’s #1 University” as the crutch of your success in your future, I’m afraid you won’t get far. Be willing to work and learn in a post-graduate program of any choice and don’t hold back that creative and curious feature that we all have within us. Open yourself up to the experience of being outside of your comfort zone and listen to the clichés of “achieving your dreams” that are repeated over and over.

Dreams can’t be dreams if you turn them into goals and pursue them. Most importantly, breathe, relax, and take your time. You don’t need to be working in exactly 6 months after you’ve graduated. Your life will only go at a pace you want it to go at. Do the best you can, be the best you can and you’ll find yourself to be in a happier more understanding place than before.

Don’t downplay the college experience, and don’t hold the university experience in a higher regard than anything else. You don’t need to know what you want to achieve now at UTM. Explore all of UTM’s massive opportunities and engage as much as possible. But continue that search for new knowledge and work even after you graduate from here.

Your life may look like a wild mess in its future, but when you look back, it’ll be a perfectly paved road that you created at your own pace.

 

YOURS,

 

MAHMOUD SAROUJI