First, I would like to take the time to welcome everyone into this brand new academic year. If you are just starting your program, I can imagine you are very excited and maybe a tad bit nervous. This is okay!
I was incredibly anxious when I first started because I had just moved from Alberta and knew absolutely no one, plus it had been a while since I was last in school. But I can assure you that this feeling quickly changes when you enter such a welcoming, diverse and inspiring environment.
“Of course getting your diploma at the end of your time in school is the goal, but it’s just one part of the whole student experience that Sheridan has to offer”
If you’re in a degree program like me you have four great years ahead of you to hone your craft or as I like to say: Level up. I’m heading into my third year in the Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA)-Marketing Management program and I’ve definitely learned a lot, which is why I am here to impart (what I hope is) some wisdom.
So here we go – my five ways to get the most out of your Sheridan experience and go ‘beyond the paper’. What does that mean? Of course getting your diploma at the end of your time in school is the goal, but it’s just one part of the whole student experience that Sheridan has to offer.
Keep an open mind
This one may seem simple, but it can be difficult to do. When you have five classes, a job (or two), possibly family responsibilities, and a social life, you might not want to take on more than just your coursework. I’m sure even making it to class is difficult some days! But getting into the mindset that you are in control of your time and that extracurricular experiences have great benefits will serve you well for the rest of what I’m dishing up.
Start networking right away
Networking may provide some short-term returns, but I’ve found that it’s often the relationships you build over time that will lead to you being top of mind for a great opportunity down the road.
For example, in my first year I began to get to know my professors, which is something that is easily done at Sheridan (yes, smaller class sizes!). As a result, I was later invited to speak to Faculty to give my input on my program. I felt like I was part of making valuable changes.
Other opportunities that stemmed from this approach included: an invitation to speak about the BBA program to the Minister of Science and Technology, being photographed and interviewed for the Fall 2015 Viewbook (pictured above) and securing part-time employment within the school, which led to a co-op position – all because I made those connections early on and said yes to opportunities.
There is a lot going on – all the time!
Attending events, workshops and forums is another great way to be involved. You can check out the Sheridan Student Union’s (SSU) clubs and events calendar, Slate, the Sheridan events calendar, social media or your Sheridan email for event updates. I attended the Virox Future Forum in 2015, which hosted leading entrepreneurs who spoke about what it takes to be successful. I was really energized and motivated from that experience.
Also, being employed on campus elevates your ability to network, you learn more about your campus and it’s a job with flexibility – your employer knows your academics come first. I was a Social Community Leader, a position in which I created and shared content on Sheridan’s social media channels (example above), which provided me with hands-on experience in my field of study.
Take on a co-op or internship
This is a hugely important one! Even if you don’t go into the co-op stream of your program, getting a summer job in your field will make all the difference. Co-ops/internships/summer jobs provide practical knowledge that you can add to your resume and skills you can use in future classes or your career. It boosts your confidence when looking for employment because your experience helps you be more aligned with job qualifications. Having a good reference is a bonus too – they can reinforce what you are telling the interviewer.
Co-op positions also act as a way to network. My co-op position with Sheridan’s Marketing Department (pictured above) is the reason I authored this post. I was looking for more experience with content writing and blogging and my supervisor put me in touch with the right person who afforded me this opportunity.
Find some balance
Preparing myself for my dream career means that I am busy most of the time and in need of a mental and physical break every so often. To keep me going I’ve started eating (mostly) healthier foods, doing yoga and have taken up calligraphy (see picture below). Having time to myself to clear my head allows me to stay focused and handle my schedule.
I encourage you to reflect on what you enjoy and throw that into your schedule for some relief. Having these moments will keep the chaos manageable.
And there you have it – my advice for your journey forward. This was just my experience, but I hope some of what I’ve shared will resonate with you.
The path to your dream career involves a lot of work and a positive attitude. I’m inviting you this upcoming year to go beyond the paper, step outside of your comfort zone and try one thing in the list above.
Written by: Brittany Tapper (pictured at top of page), a third-year Bachelor of Business Administration – Marketing Management student at Sheridan.