Developing resilience – a student’s perspective

Jack Mysyk, a 2017 graduate in Economics is currently working as a Junior Consultant in London. Hear about his experiences and how this has helped him to develop resilience.

 

At the age of 17, I was one of those kids in school who could get away with doing little work and without consequence. I had already wrapped up my unconditional offer, where I naively assumed I could waltz through my Economics degree and stride blissfully into a future, glamorous career. I’d already studied Economics in school, how hard could it be, right?

Over the next few years I would learn a few invaluable lessons.   

Lesson One:  Getting to University is the easy bit…

When I was introduced to Econometrics – the statistical element of economics – my carefree time came to a very abrupt end. I didn’t just fail, I crashed and burned in the course and I had to repeat a year. I was mortified, I’d never achieved grades that low before, and I only had myself to blame. I can admit it now, I just didn’t work hard enough, I didn’t give the course the respect it deserved and I paid for it. You may know students who love telling you that a course you struggle with is easy, ignore them. No one has an easy time at university, and every person’s struggle is unique – academic or not. Edinburgh isn’t one of the top universities in the world by chance, not every student gets a good grade, so don’t underestimate the challenge.

Lesson Two: Failure is not the end, there’s light at the end of the tunnel…

It is completely natural to start over thinking every aspect of life after a big setback. I can remember such painful detail about believing I had let down my family because of my lack of effort. Moreover, it took me months to let my friends know, purely because I was embarrassed by what had happened to me. I dealt with this aspect badly, and I hope everyone reading this who has gone through failure will agree that I should have spoken about it. Do not be afraid to speak about your problems, it was only when I had the difficult conversations with my family and friends that the magnitude of what happened to me really wasn’t as big a deal as I had made it in my head. If I could go back and tell them all immediately, I would, as it would’ve saved me from one of the loneliest periods of my life.

Lesson Three: Failure is an opportunity, not a weakness…

There are over 2,000,000 students in Higher Education in the UK right now. I remember the first time I read that statistic, I panicked. My first thought was obvious, and I can imagine many of you can empathise. How can I compete when I’ve got a black mark on my academic record? In my degree, my Econometrics course was my weakness, however I spent my summer making sure I learned the course inside out, sacrificing my spare time so when it would face me the next time, it would be my greatest strength. In my first job interview after my failure, I was asked “Name a time you’ve failed” – and I confidently told the interviewer exactly what I’ve written here and it wowed them, and they gave me the role. Showing that you are a strong enough person to recover from a fall will always be more impressive than striding through life without any setbacks, trust me.

Lesson Four: Failure isn’t a one off, but you’ll be ready for it next time…

In a perfect world, you wouldn’t need to experience failure again, but unfortunately it happens. I moved down to London after university, and bumped into another setback by moving into a job that I’ve found difficult and doesn’t always let me showcase my strengths. However, I’ve learned from my experiences and I know it isn’t the end of the world, now I relish the chances to make amends and flourish in a different career down south. For those of you who have also faced setbacks, I really hope you can take confidence from my story, knowing you’re not alone and learn from what hindsight has brought me – so when you’re in my position now, you’ll have a more positive outlook.

Naturally, you might think ‘If I had another crack at this, I would’ve just worked harder and got my grades’, but the past is irreversible, and the result of my failures has made me a more humble, pragmatic and quite frankly a better person. Failure is not about what happened, the only thing that matters is how you react to it. In latter time, your resilience will come to define you and it will be more valuable than any grade you achieve.

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