The biggest favour you can do yourself is to stay true to who you are, not who others see you as!
1. Be outgoing, take initiative!
This can be difficult, and as much of a personal growth point than a professional one. You need to interact with people to get to where you want to be, whether it’s securing your next job or the flat you want to rent. You need people and people need you.
Connect with people around you, on your programme, your professors, make human connections because these will serve you – in friendships, in potential work connections. Learn from other people and where they come from, where they are going. Your courses are not the only source of knowledge, people are too. If you are shy, remember other people can be too. and if you don’t like beer, do yourself a favour and still hang out around the White Horse!
2. Leverage your school
Let’s face it, LSE is a great school and despite the competition between different London universities, it is one of the leading institutions in the world. You have already done great to be here and will surely go on to do many more great things. This is the beginning!
And whatever you plan on doing, use LSE as a steppingstone to get there. Not only in your course choices and the diploma you will get, but in the alumni network, societies, university events and range of experts in the teaching body you have the chance of interacting with!
3. Read, read, read, READ!
One of the first things my course director told us was, “successful students read the Financial Times”. I cannot emphasise this enough – the invaluable toolkit being informed of current affairs provides you with in so many situations.
Whether in a conversation with a potential contact in a company or industry you are interested in or a paper you are writing that requires a real-life example – and most importantly, for yourself to enrich your vocabulary and writing skills (as my mother repeatedly and rightfully told me as a child ) and be an informed citizen of the world (and LSE students have access to a free subscription to the FT so really there is nothing preventing you from reading it?).
4. Get stuck in conversations on topics you know nothing about
You are not expected to be an expert in everything, no, really. Imposter syndrome was a real thing when I first started the Global Master’s in Management programme. I was surrounded by people who had studied business-related courses before or had extensive real-life experience working in various companies – some of which were their own!
I was fresh out of my history undergrad thinking my god, how am I going to keep up with my accounting lectures let alone pass the exam. Putting together a balance sheet or knowing what on earth the difference was between historical cost and fair value accounting, I don’t even know anything about accounting! Also, how can so many people know they want to go into consulting or banking?! The only financial knowledge I had was from observing my father in his work as a trader, but I had absolutely no theoretical knowledge in the field. I realised that you can gain far more insight from people into the day-to-day implications of a job than you can from a book. It does not matter if you have no prior knowledge, it really doesn’t!
In fact, the more I ventured into uncharted new territories of knowledge, the more I realised big words and industries were far less scary than I thought. Confidence isn’t half of success, it’s 90% of it. Going into conversations and topics, even courses you know nothing about is like watching an amazing movie for the first time (unpaid sponsorship I swear). In fact, having a different background is your greatest asset– it brings a fresh perspective to the table and makes you different (and different is good!). Be brave and chose the course you know nothing about! If not now, when? Take any and every opportunity to learn new things, take advantage of your environment!
5. Do what you are interested in – not what others are doing
This I repeat to myself daily, because it is so easy to feel like you need to be doing what others are doing. This last point is intentionally riddled with Instagram captions that are cliché for a reason. Stay in your lane. Focus on what sparks your interest, what makes you curious to learn more and want to get out of bed in the morning to learn more about.
Do not let yourself be swayed by what others are doing. The biggest favour you can do yourself is to stay true to who you are, not who others see you as. Most probably if you are doing a master’s you’re in your early to mid-20s and figuring out a lot of things at once, and one of your biggest concerns is what you will do after. There is time, and the path to finding that out is far more important than reaching it, focus on the skills you will acquire along the way and what makes sense to pursue now – not where you think you should be in your 5-year plan.