University is an exciting time. I won’t call it the best time of your life – because it’s not.

University is a stepping stone that will shatter your expectations (in the best possible way), test your mettle, teach you more about who you are, and help you forge friendships that will last a lifetime – all in-between your regularly scheduled classes. University isn’t the best time of your life, because it’s a training ground for the life you have yet to build.

Debate Team

JDCC Debate Team 2012/2013. From left: Jessica Chiu, Brian Baah, Mo Waja, Hasheel Lodhia

The biggest mistake you can make as a current or newly minted Ryerson student is to believe that your job is solely to go to class, get straight A’s, and get your degree. That’s part of it, yes, but life at Bay & Dundas is so much more than that.

I entered the Ted Rogers School of Management after a semester of Chemical Engineering at U of T and another of Business Administration at Nipissing University. Coming from two other campuses, I committed the cardinal sin of not attending Frosh Week, and made my schedule the sum of class and studies. It was only in my second year that I began to break out of that shell and engage with the student population. That year, and the following three, would be a whirlwind of excitement, competition, wild successes, and bitter disappointments. But all of this introduced me to a new dimension of what it meant to be a citizen of TRSM.

During my time at TRSM, I had the opportunity to compete in the LBSA Case Competition, Ryerson Toastmasters, Ryerson’s Next Top Speaker (RNTS), JDCC Debate, as well as found the Ryerson Speech & Debate Association (RSDA) and design the PictureWords Presentation Training Program. Each of these experiences was another piece in the puzzle that helped prepare me to launch my company, presentIMPACT – beyond the scope of what I learned in class.

Debate

JDCC Debate Finals 2013/2014, Ryerson vs. Wilfrid Laurier

The key concept to take in here is that there is a dichotomy to your university career. There are the academic lessons that will provide you with all the information you need to become the CMO, CFO, CEO, or entrepreneur that you aspire to be; and then there are the life lessons that will build on that foundation and prepare you as a person to achieve those dreams.

The most successful university career you can have – especially at TRSM – is one filled with both the academic and the experiential.

So now we’re going into the 2016/2017 year.

For the first years out there: If you know your passion in business, there’s a student group for it. Begin to explore the opportunities available to you. From Enactus Ryerson, to JDCC, to the RSDA, you have a chance to find experiences and people who will change your life in a very real way. Learn more during the Frosh Amazing Race (do we still do that?) or during the annual student group fair in TRSM. If after all that you’re still hungry, try starting your own group. Building the RSDA and PictureWords was an exercise in student entrepreneurship that foreshadowed the creation of presentIMPACT.

For the second, third, fourth, and fifth years: It is, in all honesty, never too late. I began with the LBSA Case Comp, JDCC, and RNTS in my second year. In my fifth, I founded the RSDA and built the PictureWords Program. The decision to make a change, to enter a new forum, can seem scary. It might feel like you’ve already done your time, but the rewards from making the change are truly invaluable.

Mo Waja Headshot

Mo Waja is the Founder and CEO of presentIMPACT

Without becoming a citizen of TRSM, I would never be where I am today. I wouldn’t have the friendships that have become a second family, and the network of mentors and peers that have served as my true north throughout my entrepreneurial journey. Adding to your workload by entering a student group may seem daunting, but I challenge you to challenge yourself.

R U up to it?

Posted by Mo Waja

Mo Waja is a professional speaker, avid marketer, the Founder & CEO of presentIMPACT (www.presentimpact.ca), and the author of presentIMPACT: The Speaker’s Guide. At TRSM, Mo founded the Ryerson Speech & Debate Association and the PictureWords Program, as well as serving on JDCC Ryerson’s Debate Team from 2012-2014. Connect with Mo on TED’s Café: www.tenthousandcoffees.com/profile/mo-waja