Ever since I left university a couple of years back I have been wondering whether it was worthwhile to waste all my valuable time laboring away in university. Until I realized, the goal of university is to teach you to become a critical thinker about your subject of interest, whilst providing you with the necessary skills to dig deep into that. And when doing this, people discover and create new things like new workflows, new tools and new methods. This is because academic courses may not be the best value for money if you are purely looking to learn basic skills, but to delve deep into why you love doing with your life, university can only expand your knowledge, in turn helping you to develop yourself and your skills.
It is wrong to compare a university to a training centre. They have different goals and whilst I have gained a lot of fundamental skills from the courses I studied at university, I found that working on personal projects not only demands but makes you discover new ways to tackle certain problems that are not so straight forward in a book, an assignment or seminar you attend in the lecture room. Seeing how assets are produced and take form amongst the pipeline is an invaluable experience, and puts these key skills into context whilst developing them at the same time.
Team work too is very important going forward working on projects by just combining your interests and working hard. Initially it can be a bit overwhelming with the amount of work but with support from team mates it can all become so easy.
I remember my lecturer always reminding us to do “Do personal projects! In our free time is it writing, research or anything that tickled our fancy that we would show for our time at university. And as fate would have it none of us left with something quantifiable to show apart from the academic transcript. However stepping out in the real world things are a little different, employers and recruiters see graduates with those same university assignments all the time. They need to see that you’ve got dedication that extends beyond getting assignments in on time. By doing these personal projects you just learn so much more. There’s nothing just like discovering things yourself. It puts you ahead of everyone else and in a country where jobs are as scarce and competitive as ours – that’s something worth doing.
So if anything, I’d advise fresh graduates to spend time doing personal projects. As you work along regardless of the field you realize what makes a story a project? What are the things to avoid? How do you get other people to feel for a project? These are the things that actually count.
All the incredibly interesting technical aspects are just there for the visual quality of your projects but it’s you who actually makes it count.