I spoke to the wonderful Joannda from azestfortravel.com all about her experience at University 13 years ago. It’s a little different to my normal posts but I feel it fits in well with my University series. I can’t be the only one interested in how the university lifestyle and experience has differed? Was it worth it?
Joannda did a course which may seem a little unusual to a lot of us reading it. She talks honestly how she didn’t really enjoy university and whether it’s the ultimate necessity in a future career? Maybe not… Read on to find out all about her experience!
Hi! I’m Joannda, a 35 year old Dutch Kiwi currently living in Cork, Ireland. I studied International Business Management for four years at the University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand. I majored in Marketing and Japanese and graduated in 2005 with a Bachelor with First Class Honours.
It’s not unusual to study Japanese in New Zealand, and I had done so in secondary school too. I was lucky enough to spend my last year of school as a foreign exchange student in Osaka, Japan! I actually missed my university graduation because I missed Japan so much that I went back to teach English for a year after I finished my degree.
So, I’m sorry, but there are no photos of me in my graduation gown!
In May 2006 I moved to Ireland and have been here ever since. My first job here (if you don’t count the 2 weeks I failed miserably as a secretary at a recruitment agency!) was as a phone Advisor for a travel company earning a measly €18,000/year.
I’ve always loved travel hence I now write a travel blog! This job was something I was super excited about despite the pay.
I stayed in that company for 5 years, moving on from that initial role to coaching new hires and later becoming a Team Leader. That was my first true experience as a manager! I switched companies after that, when an opportunity came up to work for Apple! Although I started there as a Team Manager as well, the career opportunities have been far superior and I’ve changed jobs internally twice since then, both as a Program Manager. It’s hard to explain the ins and outs of what I do as each day varies quite a lot! Although my title says Manager, I don’t actually directly manage anyone, which I much prefer! I really love working for Apple, it’s been an amazing experience working for such a successful global company.
Was it worthwhile?
I often look back on my time at University and wonder whether it was “worth it.”If I’m honest, I didn’t really like most of my time at Uni as I wasn’t big into partying and didn’t make many close friends. I did finish, with a wonderful NZ$36,650 student loan… Which isn’t as much as some, but quite daunting for a new graduate headed overseas which meant the student loan was subject to a 7% interest rate!
Four years also felt like an awfully long time and by the last 6 months of my final year, I was itching to get out!!
To this day, I feel like there are pros and cons to having gone to Uni. One thing is for sure though – Going to Uni definitely helped me grow up! It taught me invaluable lessons in taking care of myself, budgeting, meeting deadlines, writing, prioritising, time management and all those other important life-skills. But, none of those were things I learned from my actual degree, rather just from being a student…
As a University student, it really is up to you how much effort you put in. A lot of the time you are working on assignments or projects either by yourself or as part of a small team. It’s pretty easy to lose focus unless you’re self motivated and able to create a study plan and stick to it. As well as that, for many it’s probably going to be the first time living away from home and so you might have to cook, clean and budget more than you likely did before.
Whether or not it has truly helped in my career path is hard to know because I really believe that real-life skills and experience count for a hell of a lot in many companies nowadays.
From personal experience (having conducted many interviews myself over the years), a degree is a nice-to-have. It also shows commitment and the ability to “stick it out”. If two people have similar skills, a degree might help you get a small step up over the other candidate. For my job teaching English in Japan, a degree was a requirement to even be considered at all, and so for that, it was definitely worth it!
So I guess from my perspective, it’s the age-old conundrum of “it depends”…
If you want to be a doctor, lawyer or architect, you absolutely need a degree (obviously!) For jobs like mine, in large global corporations where there are an unimaginable number of jobs that aren’t specifically related to any degree, maybe it isn’t as important if you have relevant life experience and are willing to work your way up the ladder internally. Having said that, a degree definitely helps you get noticed and get a foot in the door. And (possibly) it may also help you get a better salary than if you don’t have a degree.
In the end, do what is right for you. A degree isn’t the be all and end all. Some people like to study, while for others, it just isn’t their thing and that’s ok too.
Personally, I would’ve liked to have taken a year out to truly decide what I wanted to do. At 18, we may feel all adult-like and grown up, but I didn’t really know what I truly wanted from life and a career. If I had put less pressure on myself to go straight to Uni, I may have taken a completely different career path! Who knows.
But, I am happy with where I am today. In a challenging and rewarding job, a good salary which means I am now debt-free and the flexibility to get involved with lots of different projects so that no day is the same! With my love for travel, a bonus is that I often go to America and the UK for work and I’ve had the opportunity to see places I might not have gotten to (yet!) otherwise! I have no doubt that my time at Uni, both the actual degree I graduated with, and the transition into adulthood it facilitated, helped me grow into a more confident version of myself!
Make sure you check out the other posts in the series and in relation to university:
University: What I Wish I’d Known (Part One)
University: What I Wish I’d Known (Part Two)
University: What I Wish I’d Known (Part Three)
University: What I Wish I’d Known (Part Four)
Fresher’s Week, Friend or Foe?
University, 9 Years Ago; An Interview
University Alternative, MOOC; An Interview
University Saving Tips and Tricks, Part One
University Saving Tips and Tricks, Part Two
University Bookshelf Tour
My University Experience So Far