Marketing, Inbound

What They Won’t Teach You In University (But Can Change The Direction Of Your Life)

by Talha Mahmood

Universities don’t really teach you how to cope with the future challenges of life. Forget the future, not much is taught about how to deal with the present either.

Yes, this is me taking a s*** on my own university, and others (no names disclosed).

If you're already offended by this article, I am 20 and have many more years to offend people. So skip through.

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If you're still reading, lets get right into it.

You'd expect university to be a little different than the traditional school norm, where you just cram everything into your head to vomit it all at finals. I mean, shouldn’t it be different? This is what's supposed to decide your future.

But I’ve learnt otherwise.

There is no difference. Other than the fact you don't have to wear a uniform and you don't need the teacher's permission to leave the classroom.

Not all, but most of my professors teach in the most un-engaging, idgaf way. We just nod our heads while paying attention to our smartphones.

Passing the class is no problem. A 2-day cram is enough to pass finals...maybe even get a distinction. BUT. Have I learnt anything from this course? Have I applied any of it in my life?

Nah.

My thinking is this. If you're my teacher, I'm giving you 2 hours of my time (even though attendance isn’t mandatory) to learn something from you. Whatever you say, I regard with the utmost importance. So if your teaching method is foreign to everyone but you, at least tell me something I can do to benefit from the course.

Tell us to get internships over the summer so we can apply what we learn.
Tell us our degrees hold almost no value in the real world without sufficient work experience.
But no one does that.

My university has a career fair every semester. Only the people who already have work experience attend. Those who don’t, won’t. Our experience has taught us it's a waste of time.

Because...

Uni mark

To get an internship or a job, you need to have had an internship or a job before.

Like, what?

I tried my luck last year, around May I presume. I had nothing else going on that morning, quite frankly, just needed a reason to show off my new blazer.

Printed out my CV. You know...cheesy, canned objective statement, creatively embellished work experience here and there, advanced technical skills like Microsoft Word and Gmail.

I knew I wasn’t going to get any offers. But for the heck of it, why not try?

Handed out my CV graciously at many companies' stalls (I did print more than 20 anyways), until I came across one where the rep told me to keep my CV and have a seat. They were quite straightforward and that attracted me the most,

“All the CVs are probably going to end up in a big pile, so you can keep yours.”

I took my seat.

He asked me what I like to do. I honestly don’t "like" to do anything...besides poetry, which is my passion. But why the hell would a marketing agency care about that? So I kept quiet. Until I was asked to do otherwise.

“What's your passion?”
“…. Eh, poetry…?”
“Oh great, what do you write about?”
(Couldn’t possibly tell them love quotes, so.. er… silence).
“…….”
“Look man, even if its about cats we don’t mind. Just tell us.”
“Yeah, it’s mostly love stuff.”
“Oh cool, great. Tell us about your page and we’ll have a look. And your homework is to check our website and mail us what you think about it.”
“Great, nice to meet you.”

And so, we parted ways and I guess I saved a copy of my CV too.

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Fast forward 2 weeks.

I emailed them and told them their website was great and was immediately called into the office for a meeting. One sit-up which involved nothing but “How's life, bro?”. And I didn’t even realize at the time, but I landed my first internship.

Now the next few paragraphs are very important. This is me after having interned for month without pay (I get paid now, btw). They're the essence of this blog post.

So if you’re here and reading, WAKE UP.

I was immersed at an agency, not with coworkers, but family. Learnt more about marketing in 5 months than I did in 3 years of university courses.

And I wasn’t just learning, I was applying what I learnt. I was preparing content calendars to pitch to clients. Even managing an account here and there. Yes, me...a 20-year-old “kid”.

And they still buy me lunch almost every day, just 'cos. (DON'T apply for an internship for this reason...not everyone is as lucky as me).

Problems with coursework for university? My colleagues loved helping and answered all my questions.

Funny thing is, I wasn’t even a marketing student before joining this agency. I was an accounting major because they tole me it's a safe bet and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do after graduating. It was only after I got exposed to the Real World, I figured out this was what I love doing and growing into for the rest of my career.

So if your professor or university don’t tell you all this, don’t blame them. I stopped playing the blame game ages ago (the agency taught me this too). They're just a business at the end of the day. Your diploma is the receipt.

But if you're reading this, you have no excuse...

Because now you know.

Most of the time, you don’t even realize your the potential inside you. Potential that can be channeled to do BIG THINGS. You don't know it, because you're never shown how.

Know how I know this? Because my bosses aren't running a charity. They saw something in me, otherwise they wouldn't have given me a shot.

Look, working odd jobs like GITEX and other promotional events will get you some fast cash. But when it's time for you to get a real job, companies don't really give a crap about that kind of experience.

So if you want to prepare for the REAL WORLD, go find a legit internship and work for free if you have to. Do whatever you have to do to get the knowledge and skills that will make employers pay attention.

OR you'll end up just another unemployed college grad complaining about, "the market is terrible right now".

The choice is yours.

My name is Talha Mahmood, and I'm an inbound marketing intern at Ubrik Media in Dubai.

 

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Written by Talha Mahmood

Talha is a Social Media expert (a for real one, not a wannabe one) and the Inbound Marketing Intern at Ubrik Media.

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