A Higher Education

A Higher Education

Communication | Judette Coward-Puglisi

October 29, 2008


 I had two brushes with higher education this month.

An undergraduate I know, a management student at the University of the West Indies, said that I should blog about why it takes so long for young graduates to find a job. “It’s like a double edged sword,” she griped. “Employers tell us that they want experience but how can we get that if they don’t hire us?”

It’s a familiar tale so I was happy to share a sure recipe. “You need to discover a small company, tell the CEO how good you are, that you’re willing to make the coffee and run errands as long as you get an opportunity to gain practical, hands on knowledge.” I shared my experience in Boston where I worked at a New England TV affiliate by fetching, carrying and emptying. At nights or weekends though, when the studio emptied, I stayed behind and with the assistance of a generous production manager, I learned to edit, produce and direct. One year later I won a NECTA award for a lifestyle programme I produced with my college classmates.

“Didn’t that take up all your time,” the intern said, “I mean if I do that how on earth am I going to get my studying done.” 


5 thoughts on “A Higher Education

  1. Hi Judette
    I will share about my experience…
    While I was on campus I was a community youth group leader and I actively participated in different students groups. I experienced different vacation jobs: I worked in the family business, I trained in an accounts department, I was a Camp Counselor in the USA and I enjoyed an internship in Jamaica. During that time I also attended a Youth Conference in Curacao and had other traveling opportunities. I had the opportunity to learn so many skills and gain a wealth of knowledge. When I left Campus I was a trained camp counselor, was experienced at coordinating events and leading multi-cultural teams.

    When I entered the world of work as a trainee, it was challenging having an upper second class honors and my main task was filing paper but I made the job work for me. I developed systems to improve the department and became actively involved in coordinating employee events. A few months later I was promoted and today I continue to plan all employee events at my organisation and PR programmes.

    You really have to be willing to make sacrifices and make situations work for you. As students there is a wealth of experience waiting to be explored. It is difficult to time manage but there is more to walk away from campus than just holding a certificate…. walk away with lifelong experiences…

  2. Tameika, thanks for your comments, they are brilliant and I think together we’ve made the case.

    I’d love to hear from students now. I wonder, are you willing to make sacrifices or do you want too much too soon? Tameika, you made an important point about sacrifice which links to my observation about the student who wanted a job but didn’t want to make the time.

    There are problems on the other side too. As employers is it that we just don’t get it, and do we expect students to come out of University all ready for the world of work?

    I am really looking forward to all the blogging on this topic

  3. Well what can I say about UWi life. I am still grappling with the fact that it is nothing what I expected. I was warned by many as what to expect, but to actually be in the system and to deal with the course work is overwhelming at times. When I thought i could have had time to participate in the many student activities that UWI offers I realized that most of my time is spent doing group projects and assignments.

    To be involved in UWI is not so much a priority for me, but more so to graduate. My reason for being here is to just get the paper that everyone says you should have, to have it as a back plan. After which I will follow my true dream and passion. I still ask myself why I am in this institution doing this degree when what I want to do does not require me to be here. But nether-the less I am here along with everyone getting that piece of paper. The thing is I am not one to conform to the typical life that everyone wants for them selves, which maybe go to school ,get a job, buy a car, a house and get married. My route as I see it is different.

    I am taking this UWI experience as my two years of sacrifice to reach where I really see myself. I will grind my teeth, do the work and get out.

    I may sound a little crude, but that is how I view my experience in UWI.

    Thanks for the opportunity to express myself.


  4. I understand that some courses or degrees may be more intense or require more of a person than others, but in my humble opinion, not being invloved even if its in a small way
    in campus life means that you have missed out a a world that would have only made you better. I was involved in many clubs at UWI the main one being, the Communicatuion Studies
    Association. I’ve discovered , being involved in campus life is not just about having fun or doing something that may look good on your resume. It is a great way to build
    relationships, network, acquire people managment skills, time management skills and being responsible, skills which could make the difference in weather or not you are hired.
    In my personal experience, now that I have graduated University, I could safely say i’ve started key working relationships while on campus becasue of people I’ve met both on
    an off campus and perhaps have a friend in every possible profession becasue of my club or some other voluntary activity

    If the University was convinced that academics would suffer because of activities outside the classroom, I’m pretty sure they would not allow them to exist. Two hours out
    of a week is not that hard to give. That small window of time could start lifelong friendships, fruitful partnerships and open critcal windows that might otherwise be shut. You don’t have to be involed in everything, but get involved in something, trust me, you have nothing to lose.

  5. I heard Prof Elsa Leo-Rynie speak at UWI Institute of Critical Thinking this Thursday. The ideal UWI graduate would be someone who is articulate, out of the box thinker, willing to be involved in their community – an agent for change. I’ve been interviewing for the last few months for a junior position in my department. I’ve gotten a lot of good degrees but I’m looking for that bit extra – how are you working in teams (can you demonstrate your involvement in groups, organisations?); how are you at managing people situations, working with people up and down the ladder, are you comfortable in varying social settings,show me how you’ve put yourself out there and gone the distance? I’m not just hiring a graduate, I’m hiring someone with the right attitude and fit for my team and my organisation.

Comments are closed.