Careers Advice Blog

The rise and fall of the super student

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(or “Why it’s absolutely fine not to be good at absolutely everything”)

Generic job advert for generic company

Wanted: one highly intelligent, incredibly motivated graduate for role to begin immediately post-education.

Essential criteria:

  • A 2:1 in a seemingly relevant degree
  • Work experience at a well-regarded firm, which definitely relates to this job and has provided you with innumerable ‘transferable skills’
  • Extra-curricular activities which demonstrate your role as a well-rounded individual in your university community
  • Volunteering work that will demonstrate your caring nature within the local community
  • A sense of innovation, creativity and individuality

Number of students actually able to fulfil the above: very…very few!

So, why are we expected to do everything?

In a country where a high number of young people attend university, it is unsurprising that graduate recruiters are increasingly raising the bar for graduates. It is not enough, it would appear, to simply achieve great marks in your degree anymore, and instead we are expected to demonstrate a wide range of skills in all manner of areas. The question is, where do we draw the line?

The truth is, where you draw the line is entirely a personal choice. There are those exceedingly irritating people who are able to do absolutely everything, and will leave university with a CV filled with exciting experience, and there are similarly people who do very little. Whatever job you apply for, there are likely to be people that have more experiences than you, and so to stand out, what counts is what you take from your experiences. The old ‘quality over quantity’ adage comes in handy here.

So I should just not sleep any more?

Of course not. Just because the bar has been raised, that doesn’t mean it is out of reach. Time management, careful consideration for the responsibilities and activities you take on and an acceptance that sometimes you have to miss out on some things are all useful tools in this game. Choose work experience that is going to give you chance to develop a number of skills, not just one or two. Take up extra curricular activities that give you chance to work in the community, such as joining a dance group and teaching community classes. And sleep well, and eat well.

No one is going to be that perfect super student, so the sooner we all accept that, the sooner we can all go back to chain-watching that Netflix series… Just kidding.

Do you think you’re expected to become a super student? Let us know in the comments below.

Photo: Morten Brunbjerg / Flickr

Harley RyleyThe rise and fall of the super student

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