Can a student really only be a student?

Elodi Troskie

“Why did you apply for this position?”

“Because I have to EAT.”

A highly relatable quote I heard this week from a friend who is preparing for a job interview. After having a good laugh and contemplating whether I should tweet about it, I started thinking about the daunting not-so-far-in-thefuture process of CV fine-tuning, job applications and figuring out what LinkedIn even is.

We hear it all the time (especially us BA kids). Jobs are scarce. You need to be the best of the best. Adulthood is
ruthless and competitive. I know that. Sadly, my life is not a 7de Laan episode where I can flourish in my career by starting as a waitress at Oppiekoffie and suddenly going to being the owner of Eclectic E.

But let’s get back to reality. Firstly, don’t stress. You are not competing with the entire world. Only with the handful
of applicants for your dream job. (Somehow, not really reassuring.)

Flash forward a few months or, for those still in the prime of their youth, a few years. You update your CV and send it on its way, out in the world. Now what?

Let’s say a hundred people apply for said dream job. Out of those, twenty have spelled the addressed employer’s name wrong. Another fifteen attached a selfie as reference picture (frowned upon, apparently). The remaining fifty-something are all recent graduates.

Why would YOU be appointed if there are countless others who, on paper, are exact replicas of you?

Do you have any experience in the relevant career field? Have you done any part time work while studying? Have you done any unpaid work, merely for the cause of enjoying the work? Have you volunteered your time to anything of value? Contributed? Developed your social skills, your leadership skills, your communication skills?

Or did you spend your time at university investing in activities you would not proudly discuss in your cover letter?

Yes, your twenties are fun. You’re not supposed to have everything figured out. You don’t have to spend all your days in the bib.

To the other extreme, studying is important. Excelling academically is wonderful. But what is the point of getting
distinctions for all your subjects but having no experience to show for it?

Will employers value a candidate who graduated with an 80% average more than one chilling in the sixties region, but have a CV so filled with substantial experience they would do themselves a dishonour not appointing them?

Allow me to defend myself. I’m not preaching to everyone to start taking life painfully serious. But respect your privilege of being able to study. Realise that against your most popular belief, you will never have more time than you do now.

What are you going to do with that time?

Is it enough for a student to be nothing more than a student?

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