Career Development

University Wasted Our Time!

The Story

This post is directed to people in their mid and late 20s. I have had many discussions post-university about how disappointed and surprised we were when we realised that university was not necessarily the answer to what we thought we wanted to do. Here is what I call the story:

  • In the UK we make a decision that could ultimately transform our trajectory for life if we do not listen to our inner voice and passions, and that decision lies at choosing our GCSEs at age 14 in year 9. This decision may be influenced by our mentors (mum, dad, relatives), friends, entertainment, or a life experience
  • From thereon we get a picture of what we think we want to do based on no work experience or very little work experience that does not really express a true representation of what is required for that job
  • Having what seems to be a firm or loose decision in our mind we then decide our further education (if we get that far) as an NVQ, BTECH course, or A levels. A lot of this decision making is based on our GCSEs
  • After GCSEs, those of us who decide to go to university chose a course that is representative usually of what we studied at university. “Studying” this course at university will do the following:
    • Make Mum and Dad “proud”
    • Make family members “proud”
    • Give you the theory you need for your chosen field
    • Give you the experience you need if you do a placement year or have a placement based degree
    • Give you “Life Skills” that apparently only university can give you, such as social, financial and psychological skills
  • Once you have graduated you are relieved it is over and you believe you are in a strong position to get a job in your field; at least the proportion of you who received a 2:1 or over
  • Some of you are “hungry” and decide to go onto postgraduate study, Masters degrees, or a PHD


Experience always wins


Looking at the above you are spending a minimum of 7 years doing this, initially during a time where you are going through some rapid adolescent hormonal and psychological development. So how can such a huge decision be made at such a juvenile age? You could argue that the system is designed for this to happen in order for a government student loan to be taken out regardless of the quality of the long-term education. You could argue society needs to train its workforce from an early age so they use this system to prevent any form of “free” and “entrepreneurial-like” thinking and development. Is any of the above a requirement? No, it is merely a pattern that has been observed via conditioning. Is it a surprise that this is happening? Again no, because this is a model that is and has been relayed to the millennial generation from the baby boomers, as it was their common and perceived way of creating success in their past society. That criteria and measure are not required for the majority of jobs on the market today. Don’t get me wrong employers like to see some sort of higher education depending on how ambitious you are, but the reality is that Experience breeds a better and more effective chance of securing a job as it is based on assurance. It is evidence that you are competent, a qualification, however, is not deceiving many employers any longer. Why is this the case? A frank answer is that “it was bound to happen that is life”, or you could argue it is due to technology and innovation, business development, increased opportunities. Whilst competition increases as the barrier to university reduce, employers are forced to naturally focus on what matters, and that is Experience.

As a result, many of us feel disheartened by the fact that we do not even have a chance to pursue what we studied, yet some of us don’t even know if we know whether what we have studied is what we want to do. If you had never gone through years of effective personal development via using feedback models such as the Johari window, or developing experiences over time to understand what you like and don’t like, and trialling and testing it, then how will you truly know what you want. If you have never really exhausted the job market and never had some form of template, guidance or mentorship to allow you understand what jobs do what and what are the pros and cons of doing it, then how can you expect to know what you want to do post 21 years of age.

For those at Oxbridge, or studying Medicine, Veterinary, Dentistry, or any other programme that has a natural progression or allows for increased competitive advantages (due to prestige), the route is clearer. By no means is it easier but it is clearer. For the other 95%, the route becomes harder as reality slaps them in the face very hard. Many people get frustrated and usually go to study again to find their “real passion” but many of them are making an even greater mistake by increasing their debt. Why does this happen? Well, because most people don’t know what to do, and even if they get an idea of what they think they need to do, they hesitate and retract from such ideas.


Confusion creeps in


A lot of us are tired with the rubbish that a degree has given us regardless of the grade. I would argue we relied too much on the degree and not on the obvious ability for us to make our own. How could we have been so stupid to rely on a degree, don’t we decide our fate to some “degree?” Throughout time working in a job, whether you have respect for it or not you realise that money is actually important and if anything you’ve racked up a bill since your university days, so much so it’s causing you a daily headache. You think to yourself “I need to start a business.” I say to you, “Why? Do you know what a business entails?” Maybe you’re saying “I need more money and I think starting a business would be the answer,” however you don’t even know whether you are fit for a business. Maybe you just need a new job with less stress and more pay, or you need to be more disciplined so you can save better. If you do want to take this road you need to do the following…


Business and error

  • Research different business models and attend seminars and workshops to get better insights into them
  • Speak to different people within the industry to understand what the pros and cons are
  • If you are brave enough, try these models out and reevaluate after a year. Things to ask yourself are
    • Can I see myself doing this for another 5 years?
    • Do I enjoy what I do?
    • What is my vision for this business?
    • Do I have the skills to pursue this business?
    • Am I passionate to learn daily to improve my knowledge and skills?
    • Is the sacrifice to this business worth my time, energy and money?
    • Is it actually bringing in revenue?
    • Does this business have real potential to scale my revenue?
    • Does this business have a positive effect in my life

If any of the questions above are “No,” you need to understand why, what would make it a yes and whether you need to reconsider something else.


Passion into Profit

If an immediate business model doesn’t seem viable to you-you need to ask yourself, what is it that I am passionate about? or in other words, what am I so deeply interested in that I want to make it my life’s work? This interest or passion needs to be a personal one or one affiliated to a bigger audience i.e. society as a whole. It would also make sense if you fancy yourself as someone with the potential and actual skills to help contribute to providing value to this audience. This could be solving a specific problem that they have, where you have a solution that is communicated to them in a relatable and heart-rendering way.

Once you have found this focus on this and develop a way to do the following:

  • Look at and record examples of where it has been done in a similar way to you
  • Experiment on and determine your niche market
  • Create a website and use at least 1 – 3 social media platforms
  • Grow a community for these people (your niche) using lead generation techniques and develop a relationship with them
  • Provide this community with regular content consistently
  • Develop branding for your product/service i.e.
    • Mission and vision statement
    • Services on offer
    • Tone of voice
    • Audience
    • Logo designs and alternatives
    • Fonts etc.
  • Develop product and services for this community
  • Test your product and services with this community and get feedback
  • Use all positive feedback as reviews and recommendations
  • Use what you have learnt from your previous product development for new products and services
  • Repeat and scale up to your satisfaction


What you need to know


Do not give up your day job! This needs to be done in conjunction with your day job! If you get to a position where you can at least equal your monthly salary i.e. £2,000 per month, and you have done that consecutively and confidently for 6  months using proven evidence-based practices, then you can consider leaving your job if you want to.

Doing this and working is not easy if it does not come naturally to you or you do not enjoy working after work. The reality is that if you want to have a 4-hour work week, you have to work bloody hard, in the beginning to even see any form of reward. Develop a system, one that could be scaled up and automated without you one day. This model can work for pretty much any blogging, coaching, consulting or freelancing business, and with the right hard work and conviction, over the next coming years, you will definitely see a positive change.


A Final point

A lot of this is about making sensible decisions in order for you to learn and grow, which requires a mature mindset and the ability for you to be aligned with a goal in mind. These sensible decisions are in context to the alignment of your discovered and desired goals in life. Along with this journey you are going to need strong and effective personal development, you are going to need a system for accountability and mentorship, and you are also going to need the tools and resources to develop a complete environment for success.

Remember the unfortunate mess we had got into at no necessary fault of our own, however, we have the power at an intelligible and relatively experienced age to knowingly be bold enough and say “No” to the establishment, say “No” to the culture, and say “Yes” to sensible prosperity we owe to ourselves… No, really we do university has cost us £30,000+ in debt!


May this post inspire you to put things into perspective, take action, and pull your vision ever closer to your life.


Take care and God Bless



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