There is plenty of buzz out there these days about “investing in yourself”. Usually it is in reference to some magical product that you should buy. The logic is that by investing in what they have to offer, you are really just spending the money to improve themselves, and really, who doesn’t want that? It is a catchy mantra and a time-honored advertising angle worthy of Don Draper. The really interesting thing is that investing in yourself doesn’t have to be expensive, especially when you are a student. Forget the self-help gurus that promise you salvation in 7 easy steps. True investment in yourself takes time and energy – but fortunately not a lot of money.
Free Expertise – Come Get It!
On campus there are usually dozens of workshops put on by student groups, residence associations, student unions, or administration that has to do something with all of their time and money to justify having their position. Often these sessions are all-but-ignored. Students often have the attitude that they are burnt out with their class and work schedules alone, the last thing they want to do is learn more! I’m not going to lie, I often felt this way as well, but to not take advantage of the incredible opportunities campus life offers is truly a shame. This is one of the major advantages of living on campus – you’re right where a lot of action happens. Where else can you go get personalized resume help and here a round table talk about the state of Canada’s role in Afghanistan on the same day, and both for free? Just keep your eyes peeled and get used to scanning those pinup boards that are usually littered with events. Don’t be intimidated, sometimes it can be as simple as asking the library when their writing improvement or cover letter workshops are. Plus, if you missed my post a few weeks ago, check out why auditing a class is such a great deal, and once again will cost you $0. When I’m working part-time or retired one day I plan on auditing all kinds classes with the absolute best professors I can find.
I Always Wanted To Be Like James Bond
I also recently wrote a post about learning Mandarin. In my opinion if you are not sure what you want to do, and/or you are thinking that you might be looking into Canada’s massive government job sector at some point, then languages are a great tool to put in your career toolbox. The obvious one in Canada is French, but I believe that as the world grows more and more “flat” and diversified in the 21st century, North Americans that possess unique language fluency in international tongues such as Arabic and Mandarin are going to be in demand. Not only does it qualify directly for more jobs, but it also looks great on a resume and in an interview. Getting some sort of credential showing your fluency is usually fairly inexpensive relative to other forms of education. If you are on campus in Canada you are likely amongst several dozen different native-language speakers every day. I would say making a new friend and learning a new language is a great investment in yourself!
You Are Not Special – But Books Are
Finally, I have to put on my teacher hat here a little and say that by far one of the easiest and cheapest (thanks to Amazon) ways to invest in yourself for free is through reading. Don’t read the “how to do it quick and easy” books because they rarely work at all. Read all kinds of stuff and truly take an interest in it, you never know when a scrap of information might prove useful to you in the long run. The recent graduation speech of David McCullough at Wellesley High School garnered a lot of attention for the now infamous, “You are not special,” line (which I loved by the way), but it was another part of his speech that I really liked. As part of his advice he told students to, “Read… read all the time… read as a matter of principle, as a matter of self-respect. Read as a nourishing staple of life.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.