Nobody really thinks of university as a time that prepares you for the adult world. Get real. University actually helps to delay the onset of adulthood. We all know that 35-year-old guy who’s studying for his fifth masters degree.
If you look up from your beer glass long enough to realise that someday you too might have to join the workforce, you might start to realise that it’s probably a good idea to do things that will help, not hurt your financial future. Here are some ideas from someone who’s been through the whole uni drill.
1. Amass Qualified Skills
You might not know what you want to do yet, but that’s no excuse to do nothing.
Let me tell you—being an adult can be exhausting, especially when you have a full-time job. Think your papers and exams are stressful? That’s nothing compared to the daily 9-6 grind.
Other than the degree or diploma you’re officially studying for, look into getting qualified skills in other areas that might benefit you as a working adult.
Here are some to consider:
- RES exam, required to get a real estate agent’s licence
- Singapore College of Insurance exams
- ACCA exam
- NAFA certificate in interior design, multimedia, visual communication and more
While you might not exactly be looking to build a career as an accountant or a real estate agent, your qualifications might still come in handy if you join a bank or a construction firm, for instance.
In addition, getting qualified in multiple areas means you have a wider range of career options if your Plan A falls through. After all, if your degree in chicken rearing is rendered worthless after another bout of bird flu ruins the poultry industry, at least you can still become a real estate agent.
2. Get a Part-time Job
To prevent yourself from coming out into the real world broke and desperate, get a part-time job while you’re at university and you’ll be miles ahead of your classmates when you graduate.
Plus, if you start investing the money you’ve earned, thanks to compounding interest the little you’ve saved will go a long way, even longer than saving much larger amounts at a later age.
If you want to make big bucks, check out our list of highest-paying part-time jobs elsewhere on MoneySmart.
Here are some resources that can help you get started:
- JobsCentral’s youth page has part-time and temp job postings you don’t need a degree to take on
- JobStreet Campus has listings for part-time jobs, internships and positions for fresh graduates
- PartTimeCorner, pretty self-explanatory
3. Build a Huge Social Network
By social network we actually mean the kind containing real people, Facebook. But if you’re good at programming you can try the second option too.
You meet all kinds of people when you’re at university. From the people who were never really part of the in crowd but then made it big years later drawing cartoons or building gadgets, to the ambitious perpetual interns who later morphed into guys in suits.
The point is, at university your chances of meeting a whole mix of people are higher than when you grow up and people start hanging around only with those just like them.
As any salesperson will tell you, cultivating a huge network can be the difference between success and starvation.
Unfortunately, this is something you only realise when you’ve left school.
Even if your first job has you staring at Excel spreadsheets 8 hours a day and talking to the coffee machine, as you get older people who were once former wingmen, drinking buddies and supper kakis can become mentors, link you up with potential employers or business partners.
Here are some tips inspired by some of my friends who managed to build huge social networks at university:
- Participate in CCAs and activities, whether orientation camps, volunteer trips or excursions.
- Move into a university hostel
- Actually talk to the people sitting around you in class—sounds like a no brainer but look around the typical Singapore varsity classroom (SMU doesn’t count) and you’ll think you’ve walked into a crypt.
Being super social pays great dividends, especially in a small country like Singapore where everyone else is probably a distant cousin. As an added bonus, your sharpened social skills will make adult activities like networking a lot less painful.
What are you doing at university right now that you think will improve your future? Share with us in the comments!