My Learning as an Undergraduate

Originally published on 12th December, 2014.

After more than 4 years in college, it’s time to step out. When I look back, I had no idea what I was getting into when I first joined college. There was a lot of naivety about me- like they say just going with the flow to join a BBA degree here in Nepal itself. A lot of people told me that I should have opted for a degree abroad but going out didn’t really excite me that much. Although I totally agree that had I moved abroad, my learning curve would have been different due to a different experience and exposure but with time, even with staying back in Nepal, there have been immense changes that 4 years of college has brought in me. Now I feel more mature and more able to do things that I otherwise thought were out of my comfort zone. As I look back, there are lessons that helped me and I want to share a few with them with the hope that it’ll help you (at least the ones pursuing their studies in Nepal) as well.

Peer model works best: I owe it a lot to the peer model that I sincerely followed in college that helped me perform consistently. It’s a simple idea- have one of your peers as your learning partner in everything- from studies to advise on personal lives and in professional work. This will help bring out the best of both of you. The peer model will help you double your understanding of the concept, solution of the problem, double the network you’d otherwise have alone and help you get and give advice on a lot of things both personally and professionally.

Learning is more from classmates rather than your lecturer: The resource person or your lecturer will have very limited time with you- just the 2 hours of class maybe twice a week. In between those classes, he/she will be in a lot of pressure to complete the course on time. Hence, sharing of experience and additional knowledge creation will be limited due to time constraint. To avoid losing out, it’s a great idea to have good, real conversations with your peers-especially the ones who are working and have more experience in the real market than you. Their insights and experiences will help you gather a better idea of the concepts you’ve learnt in class and apply it in your life. Here’s an idea you can follow. Gather a few peers and have periodic experience sharing platforms so that one can learn from the others and apply it in their lives. With experience I can tell you that it has helped me and my peers a lot.

Just be out there- opportunities will follow: You cannot expect opportunities to come knocking at your door step if you follow a monotonous routine of waking up-going to class- coming back home immediately after class only to take a nap the whole day. You’ve got to ‘get out there’. Meet new people through events, participate in different contests and showcase your talent whenever you can. That is when you meet people with similar interests and trust me- that’s when opportunities come your way. How we got to South Africa has a similar story behind it. If it wasn’t for me showing my passion for presenting in front of crowds, I can bet Subhekchya would have never come to me and proposed me the chance to join her team in mission South Africa. (You can scroll to earlier blog posts to know more about that amazing journey)

Inquisitiveness is key:  Ask a stupid question and you’ll be labeled stupid for 5 minutes. Fear asking and you’ll be a fool for a lifetime. This is what my high school director used to say and these are words I live by even today. We are so shy to ask questions fearing that someone else will judge us. But college is all about learning isn’t it? Just ask. Be inquisitive and try to gather as much ideas as you can. You never know, a break through may be just right around the corner.

Sharing will make you better: Sharing ideas, your knowledge or even advising your peers will make you a better communicator helping you to put your ideas across. I used to teach my friends before the exam day. It always helped me to explain better and personally, understand the subject matter more. Knowledge gets sharpened when you share and talk about it. Don’t keep ideas just to yourself. Be involved-talk it out and refine it until it gets you somewhere.

A bit of a rebel isn’t that bad: There always seems to be a bit of a negative connotation with the word ‘Rebel’. However I’d advice you to have a little bit of it inside you. Don’t just comply with whatever others tell you. Have the guts to ask why and seek justification. Be a ‘positive rebel’ as I like to call it. It’ll help you minimize pitfalls along the way.

Become a ‘doer‘: The market does not want you to define what Strategic Management is. You ought to look at the scenario and develop strategies. So just focusing on bookish knowledge will push you behind. From exam point of view, it may be important but good employers will want you to unlearn whatever you’ve learnt so far and relearn from them. Hence, being a doer will take you a long way in college life. Take the example of Jenish Manandhar- a close friend of mine from Ace Institute of Management.Shy and introverted, Jenish only came to realize his ability when he started becoming a doer- making presentations at Presenters’ Club and joining The Storytellers team. By his own admission, he has become better at a lot of things- he can speak and negotiate better and finds classrooms more interactive and relevant. All of this can be attributed to the fact that he stepped up to become a ‘doer’.

Invest in relationships: You have 4 years to get to know as many people as you can. From knowing your peers better to forging a good relation with faculties, staffs and the management team, college life provides a good opportunity to get to know people from a wide network. The network that you build will surely help you as you move out into the market place. Today, networking is an important asset and as an undergraduate student, it’s a wise decision to invest in relationships with people that the college can connect you with.

The ‘Circle’: Who you spend your time with in college will have a direct influence on the type of person you become at the end of it. Absolutely no doubt about it! If your circle is all about sitting down in a ‘chiya pasal’ and making fun of the opposite gender, you’ll become an expert at it. As for me, I owe it to a couple of my friends who were early starters in their careers and had this passion for working. I developed similar interest and before I knew it, I was one of the directors at Maidan Futsal. Basically what I’m trying to say is yes, it’s good to have a lot of good friends but just make sure that the ones influencing you are influencing you towards the right track both personally and in terms of your career ambitions.

Soft skills: You may have a great mind to reason and think critically but if you don’t use it, it’ll wither away. Use your brain. Use it a lot. Think, re-think, ask, question. Basically, exercise your brain so that at the end of four years when you’re ready to step out, it’ll be in a position to tell you where exactly you ought to move. Also, focus on how you can become a better listener. In today’s context, everyone’s listening to reply. Why don’t you become different and listen to understand? Work on your communication skills. Try to sharpen your selling skills and become a better persuader. Everyone’s got a degree. Think of how you can create a niche for yourself through these soft skills. Browsing through articles on LinkedIn and learning through YouTube will definitely help you!

Education is all about separation. Try a few of these and see if you can actually separate yourself from the crowd. I wish you the best in your time as an undergraduate.

Good luck!

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