Telling from all the experiences I had in university, the best one was my decision to study abroad. Finland was where I started nurturing all my dreams, gaining knowledges and experiences, collecting friends and beneficial contacts. Heading from Asia to Europe at the age of 18, I was thrilled, overwhelmed and intimidated back then, way much more than every time I step on a plane to travel to a new country these days. Culture shock was not a big deal as people often brag about over the media, since the locals and internationals seem very friendly here. Nevertheless, I could remember how terrifying it was to get a glimpse of the slight disrespect people here unintentionally showed to my race as an Asian.
Go on an exchange
If you dont have the opportunity to study abroad, going on a short exchange semester abroad is an ideal alternative. Many people did ask me why I still went for my Erasmus exchange semester, while I already was studying abroad. In fact, I regret not having taken more chances to move and study in different countries. That was the best way for me to learn by new study methods, experience different cultures, and work with diverse people of various backgrounds and lifestyles. And if you are still confused about where to go, check out my 7 dream destinations to go for a semester abroad in Europe!
Participate in a competition
Joining a competition is also a must-do during your university years. At the last year of my study, I went for a business plan competition. Though I did not succeed, it was an experience that appeared practical and motivating for me than school’s paperworks.
Go for a part-time job
Paying your tuition fee, afford rent and making a living are not just big issues for students in Singapore, but in most parts of the world. It is not hard to get an easy job such as a waiter/waitress, clothing shop salesperson, or a hostel reception, for example. You are not required much experiences to work on these jobs that would make you some extra money for the leisure activities besides unversity. The more you learn to appreciate money, the more you work. I can assure once you graduate and work in your profession, the job would be more rewarding for those who worked part-time before.
Score an intern
Scoring an intern is a much better experience than getting employed by your family or acquaintances’ businesses. Be prepared with your well-done resumes, applications and contacts before sending internship requests out. If you already are confident with your backgrounds and skills, do not hesitate to bargain for your payment. Most students do their intern for free or such little money compared to the amount of work that may not be less than real employees.
Do not expect to be employed right away in big famous companies with such little experiences of a 3rd or last year university student. Back then, I prefer so much working for small organizations and start-ups so as I could learn all kinds of responsibilities belonging to different departments. There are lots jobs and intern portals in South East Asia such as Jobstreet, InternSg and Startupjobs Asia.
Join a student association
One of the best and also the worst thing that happened to me during my 2nd year was to join Aiesec, the largest student organization of the world which is more of an association providing internship abroad to me. My teammates in Aiesec did teach me a lot about leadership, event management, promotion, and even interviewing people when recruiting. Since then, I dont ever get much intimidated when being interviewed for a job. In summer 2015, I went for an Aiesec volunteering program as a travel writer in Poland, which enabled me to travel more, meet new people and learn things I could never imagine. Thanks to this experience, I have become a professional travel writer till now.
Unfortunately when I got back to Finland to continue my Aiesec work at school, things started to get worse as I felt out of the community. I got tired of their exhausted conferences, where you are to drink till late night few hours before the next opening session in the early morning, mainly because of peer pressure. I got tired of dancing and shouting promising messages, which I personally think can neither be fulfilled nor be aligned with their initial goals. Aiesec is not for everyone. And do not believe in all the wonderful things Aiesecers brag about such as amazing or life-changing internships abroad. These things don’t happen to everyone if they are not open themselves to the world. And be prepared to ‘pay’ for the volunteering programs or unpromising internships of companies that may not recruit you in the end of the internship.