Looking back, did I do everything right when I was in college? Clearly I did something right, seeing as I am employed with a great job right out of school. But, if I had to go back and give advice to my freshman year self, what would I say?
1. Plan early.
Do you have to know exactly what you want to be when you grow up? No. Absolutely not. But, everything you do should help you with your future career, whatever that might be. College is part academics and part life experience. Live a little but grow from each opportunity and situation. Everything should be a learning experience.
2. Academics is only part of the puzzle.
Employers want to see that you attended a decent school, sure. But do you they care about whether you got an A or B in a class? No. They want to see that you are well-rounded. Get involved. Join clubs, work part time, have internships and volunteer.
3. Internships. Internships. Internships.
Even if you do not know exactly what you want to do, find an internship. The skills learned at an internship can be carried over into any future career. They show commitment and work ethic. It is more important to hold an internship that will provide invaluable skills than a low-paying summer job. Work hard and the network and recommendation that comes from it will pay off in the future.
4. Hone your leadership skills.
Leadership is important at all levels. So is teamwork. Show that you can mange as well as that you can be managed. You will be working on a team and with different groups the rest of your professional life. Continue to develop those skills now.
5. Complete your whole life story.
Intern. Work part time. Get involved in student groups. Volunteer. It is important to have diverse experiences rather than a ton of the same. Your life will become more complete and you, in turn, will become more unique as a person. Employers want to see some diversity. Only you can make this happen.
These sound simple, like no-brainers. But, at eighteen, they are not necessarily things I thought about. If I had to go back and do college over with these things in mind, would I be better off than I am today? Maybe. But maybe not. It is about how you learn and grow up in the four years of college that matters. Does that freshman year writing class really matter in the long run? Maybe not. But all of your experiences and personal growth along the way certainly does.