In this Johnny Bunko series, I’ve so far shared my experiences on:
- Following Guidance (no plan in life),
- Learning strengths (disappointment in school),
- Managing time (working 40 hours a week with full course load),
- Persistence (hard work trumps talent) and
- Making excellent mistakes (careless human error).
Today, I share with you my last entry, on Leaving an Imprint.
During the past five years at SFU, I have been asked multiple times: what do I want to become after I graduate? Every time, I would hesitate before answering. I didn’t have an exact position I wanted to be in, nor did I know whether I would have the skills for whatever that ended up being. Hence, my typical answer: “I don’t know.” To many, uncertainty is uncomfortable. Parents, especially, may start questioning your motives at school and whether you have the desire to become the best at whatever you’re studying. At best, I have a faint idea of the industry I want to pursue, but nothing solid. Does this mean I’m destined for failure?
Definitely not! If you are in the same boat, don’t fear! Life is full of opportunities. Set your eyes on something you want to do, and go do it! Just don’t let “the goal” hinder you from other opportunities in life. In the past few years, I have met students that are living to achieve their goal to one day become doctors, pharmacists, engineering managers, and lawyers (usually these high status professions were dreams instilled in them when they were younger). These students are studious and highly educated. But can someone really know their dream profession at such a young age? I think it’s highly difficult to find a career path that suits our desires until we are actually exposed to the field. I didn’t know public relations would be so difficult and demanding until after I worked as a public relations intern at a prestigious hotel in Hong Kong. I didn’t realize business courses were not my forte until after I had already started struggling with them. I also didn’t know I would graduate with a degree in communications after entering university with the mindset I would come out as a businessman. Lastly, I didn’t foresee the many new opportunities I would have after working at SFU Career Services. In short, there are no set paths to a successful career. I like to think that we should strive to make a difference in every opportunity.
Like Bunko, I realize that we are only young once. Still, when I get older and look back at my life, I’ll ask myself a lot of questions. Did I make a difference? Did I contribute something meaningful? Did my being here matter? Did I do something that… left an imprint?
In my last co-operative work term, I was blessed with the opportunity to work with some really great people: advisors, peers, and all kinds of support staff who all played a big part in my growth. I never imagined working at SFU would be so much fun. I didn’t know coming in how well I would fit into the organizational culture, or whether my area of work as the multimedia resource assistant would meet expectations. I was given the opportunity to engage, explore, and enhance my skills in multimedia. I took my task very seriously and had a plan, purpose, and expectations.
But something spectacular also happened: Career Services reminded me that “there is no plan.” It has been a roller coaster working for Career Services as well as my previous Co-op employers. But it’s a never-ending roller coaster that only goes up.
I was grateful to work with wonderful colleagues. They provided a space for creativity, exploration, and engagement. It was a recipe for success. Their mentorship has been invaluable.
Now that my path to wherever post-graduation takes me has begun, I will be entering new challenges in life. But I like to be reminded that wherever I go, I should:
- Think strengths, not weaknesses
- Make excellent mistakes, and
- Leave an imprint
I like to think I left behind something positive at SFU Career Services.
What is your imprint?
Yat is a SFU alumni and former co-op Multimedia Assistant at SFU Career Services. You can find him on twitter at @yatli.