It’s True: Private University Students are screwed upon graduation

… and it’s (mostly) your fault.

Yeah okay, so before you get pissed off at me, I just have to qualify: I’m also from a private university (UB 4 lyfe!), and it will suck for the first few years.

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I’ve read a few blog posts on this, but all I see are ultra PC posts, or posts that run down private university students. I think it sucks because in the eyes of society, you screwed up and now they’re making you pay for it. It’s not entirely your fault, I get it. Some of you blossomed late, some found your calling elsewhere. Some of you just aren’t interested but have to go to school because your parents said so.

Whatever it is, it feels like it’s not your fault but now you’re stuck in a situation where potential employers are low-balling salaries at you and people like this guy seem to be judging you. Well, here’s how I see it:

You have no right to be upset.

Nope Sorry

Yeah. That’s right, I said it. You have absolutely no right to be upset. This is your life, and you’re a grown up now. Years ago, you made a set of decisions that brought you down whatever path you’re walking on this very moment.

Yes, you chose poorly. The only difference is: You get to choose again.

You always have another choice.

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Let me put it this way: You can decide to complain and worry about elitism in the work place, or you can stick it to those people in charge by outperforming your peers every single day. You see, unlike people who went to the socially recognised public universities in Singapore, you’ve got a heck a lot more to prove.

“But how the f**k do I do that?”

You’re exasperated because there’s a whole lot of impending rejection going on out there. So here’s how:

1) Accept it!

I don’t mean submit to sadness and wallow in despair. I mean take stock of your current position and look for opportunities to drive towards. When I was an undergraduate, I chose to diversify my learning by reading about tech, business and philosophy even when my major was in Communication. So for a long long while, this was my life:

books

After I left school, everything I read (and continued reading about) fell into place and became my guiding light for every work decision. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, but it’s gotten me to a lead marketing/brand role, something I’ve always wanted to do.

2) Remember it can always get worse

I swear, every time I said “Well, how much worse can it possibly get?”, it was like a challenge to the Universe.

Look here. It will always fucking get worse. Hell, you could end up without a job for a long time because of an economic crisis. I came out to work in the midst of the worst economic crisis in recent history.

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I couldn’t get a job, partially because I was from a private university. Everyone wanted only what was perceived as the best talent, and I didn’t really blame them. I mean, if you were a hirer, you’d pick the guy that had the higher chance of doing the job right.

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So, I went to ground and took a job at a magazine doing Social Media (that’s almost 7 years ago) for peanuts while everyone was looking for a job that paid paid at least $2000. I ended up picking up the skills needed to rapidly rig up a working social content machine, make content distribution decisions using analytics and learnt how to operate under immense pressure. Those are the exact same skills that I apply judiciously now at my current workplace.

The question here is: Are you mentally (and physically) ready to go to ground and grind out a salary? Perhaps you have to do something you don’t like, in order to end up doing something you actually really like? It can always get worse, but that’s how you pick up the skills so that when it’s boom time, you’re ready to catch the upshot and ride that wave.

3) You will have to prove yourself everyday

From the very first day you walk into the office for your interview, till the day you send in your resignation letter, you’re going to face judgement. If judgement upsets you, then it will be hard to go far.

You see, what Limpeh FT says about private university students is exactly what a whole bunch of people will be thinking.

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tl;dr You are fucking stupid, and just not as good. Well, fuck that. For real.

You’re going to have to read more, think more, do more and ask more of yourself. You’ll need to produce better work than everyone else and behave yourself. Don’t be late for anything, don’t miss deadlines, and work both hard and smart. You see, the problem with coming from a private university is that the moment you make a mistake, someone’s going to think that hiring you was a mistake. For you: The only easy day was yesterday.

4) Have many, many (career) dreams

It doesn’t matter what you’re doing or where you’re at now. Every one has a career dream or two. For some people I know, the dream is to see their work on billboards in Times Square. For others, they dream of running their own company where they can do stuff they want to do in their own style.

Yes you can

Whatever it is,an abundance of career dreams will help you to play a better short term career game and well as force you to outline a long term career strategy for yourself. It doesn’t have to be big goals, you can start small. Here were my career dreams:

  • Before I left school: I wanted to fiddle with Facebook for a living.
  • After my 2nd year of work: I wanted a hand in starting and building a multi-million dollar brand.
  • After my 3rd year of work: I wanted to run an event that featured a famous YouTube talent or two.
  • After my 4th year of work: I wanted to grow the revenues of the brands I work for by more than 10% in 2 years.
  • After my 5th year of work: I’d like to be recognised as a key decision maker in the company I work for.
  • Today: I’d like to direct marketing in a company I work at.

I’ve achieved almost every dream I’ve had. Some people balk at this, because the “dream isn’t big enough” or it’s “too big”.

Do it

Truth is, at every point in the career journey, I was actively thinking up new things to do and achieve partially because I was bored but mostly because I knew that if I didn’t keep coming up with new aspirations I’d be dead in the water career-wise. So, have a few dreams that just belong to you.

It gets worse before it gets better…

… and for some of you, it might be bad for a very long time.

If this article was painful or scary to read or you’ve had a hard time dealing with what I’ve just told you, then maybe it’s time to do a gut check to get ready for this next phase of your life. You owe this to yourself.

After all, you don’t want to be exactly what people said you would be, right?

Until next time,
Kenneth

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