Date Posted: November 10, 2017Reading time: 3 minutes
Being only a few years out of university, coming from a traditional classroom setting into the work force presented a fresh challenge: applying my theoretical knowledge to real world practice. The goal of the traditional university experience is to equip students with the proper tools and knowledge in order to become valuable members of the workforce. But when the majority of your education comes from a classroom—and not a boardroom—knowing when, where, and how to apply your theoretical knowledge can really be a daunting task.
University provides students with an opportunity to hone in on a career path. In my experience, I focused my efforts on business, more specifically, marketing. Through mostly coursework and theoretical application, I was taught the foundation of marketing, from sales, to consumer behaviour. Using real-world scenarios, case studies, and simulations, my textbook learning was supported by examples which made for a more meaningful learning experience. This provided opportunities to apply in-class learnings to real life situations in preparation for the real world. But how did analyzing a case study on Zara and performing a SWOT analysis really help prepare me to enter the workforce?
Sure, learning how to pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses of a business from a case study is important, but ultimately, the average university experience boils down to late-night study sessions, bad group projects, and trying to balance 80 hours of school on top of extra-circulars and a job. And although academic performance tends to be the main measure of success, the experience gained from the aforementioned realities are truly what teach you some of the most valuable post-university skills. You learn how to best retain knowledge and how to conjure the discipline needed to push through rough patches. You learn how to work with diverse personality groups, how to effectively communicate with others, how to think critically, and how to be a creative problem-solver. Ultimately, these are the essential skills I gained in university that have proven to be the most beneficial on the job – not case studies or test scores.
On my first day at Trampoline, I was asked to brief in a small job to our studio department, which seemed easy enough. But I soon asked myself: what information am I supposed to provide the team? What do they mean by ‘specs’? I really didn’t know what I was doing. In school, although I was taught about the creative briefing process, none of the textbooks I had read or case studies I had analyzed really helped me now that I was expected to perform the task at hand. So, what did I do? I asked questions. I gathered what I could on my own based on my background knowledge, but ultimately, I enlisted the experience of my colleagues to help me put together a document that worked for the briefing. It was at that point that I realized that perhaps university helped me learn more about the right questions – not the right answers.
I don’t think there is a perfect system to help students in their transition from the classroom to the boardroom. But being open to learning, being comfortable with making mistakes, asking questions, and talking through solutions with the people around you can really go a long way when it comes to real-world success.
As I continue to develop my skillset in the industry, I cherish the opportunity I have every day to learn, whether from a textbook, a YouTube video, or a colleague. Although my years of “formal education” may have passed, stepping through the doors of Trampoline every morning has me constantly facing new challenges, learning new things, and asking lots of questions.
And yes, I do know how to ride a bike.