Strategic and Corporate Communication (’17)
So much has changed since entering my first year of college, it’s hard to remember what was going through my mind freshman year. When we enter college most of us are coming from our sheltered adolescent lives. We went to school, went to after school activities and came home to our families in the evening. When you go to college everything about your life changes. The idea of college conjures up a plethora of thoughts on what college is “supposed to be” filled with societal expectations of what the experience is, what it should be, and what it means to simply be a college student.
I have loved my time in college; but as a second semester senior looking back, there are definitely a few things I wish I knew… or at least knew earlier. Here are a list of my top five “what I wish I knew as a freshman” points of advice.
- Seek Opportunity
There were so many times my freshman year that I didn’t feel like I was learning all that I wanted. I was in my required classes and that was great, but I felt like there was so much untapped potential learning that I wasn’t taking advantage of. It wasn’t until after my sophomore year that I really began seeking places to grow and ways to expand my horizon. I reached out to different faculty in my major and learned that I could do independent study or research for my professors. In my junior year I started working with Dr. Lisa Sparks helping her update her book, Talking Cancer. I learned so much working with Dr. Sparks. I was introduced to the various ways the medical field approaches the topic of cancer and cancer care. In addition to the research on Dr. Spark’s book, I helped with other projects dealing with health and food matters. The way I approach health and food now is completely changed after I did that research. I am now a vegan because of it.
- Join Clubs
Join clubs with the intention of rising to leadership positions. This one is twofold; join clubs you love, simply because you love them, even if they don’t have a strong executive board, but also aim to find clubs that you see an upward trajectory for yourself. For example, my best friend started out as a coordinator for a student events club for a department she wasn’t too passionate about. The following year she rose up to director of a department she really liked and learned so much. Now, as a senior, she is the executive director of the entire club, the highest role. She loves what she does and has gained invaluable leadership skills; plus, she fully knows the ins and outs of starting off at the bottom and working her way to the top.
- Get a Job
Get a job on campus. Having a job on campus has proven to be so helpful for me, even if I hated it. My first job on campus was in the fundraising department where I was a student caller. Not only did I make above minimum wage for this job (score) but I was also introduced to the concept of sales (which I’ve been told time and time again is a great skill to have in your professional toolbox). Even though I hated cold calling people, asking them for money, this job made me so much more comfortable talking to strangers, sticking to my agenda and going out of my comfort zone. Plus, it doesn’t look bad on a resume.
- Explore Different Majors
When I first started college, I was convinced that I wanted to major in International Relations. I told my parents I was never going to change my major and that I knew this is what I wanted to do. Well, guess what? I changed my major. Surprised? Don’t be. College is the time to explore, it is the time to take all of your interests and dive into them. Unless you plan on going to graduate school there may never be a time in your life where you will have the opportunity to learn about so many different subjects. Chapman has a huge and diverse array of majors, minors, and clusters to choose from; dabble in as many as you can. You never know the impact one class might have on you or the connections you may make from one teacher. I have a friend who started Chapman as a Sociology Major then took a nutrition class for her science general graduation requirement and ended up adding a minor in nutrition. She’s even mentioned becoming a nutritionist post graduation. A lot can change in four years.
- Take a January Class
Enroll in an inter term class that is outside of your major or a travel course if you can (see my travel article for more on this). This piece of advice is related to the one above but I cannot stress it enough. I’m a Strategic and Corporate Communication Major. I wanted to add on a Business Minor but realized I wouldn’t have enough time before I graduated to complete it. I went through the list of clusters that were similar to business and found Social Entrepreneurship and Leadership. I thought “hey, entrepreneurship is a facet of business, I’ll add that!” In an effort to complete my cluster quickly, I signed up for an inter term travel course called, Road Maps to Silicon Valley, which I solely took because it fulfilled my cluster requirement and was close to my home of San Francisco. This, on a whim decision, was another choice I made over the past four years that changed my life. I got an in depth look at the world of Silicon Valley which will practically be “my backyard” when I move back to San Francisco in May. I learned a colossal amount about venture capital, entrepreneurship, the power of a strong business team and so much more. After this class I decided I wanted to work at a startup which is where I’m interning now; something I never would have pursued if I didn’t take that inter term class.
In conclusion, college is an incredible time filled with bountiful opportunities, endless social events, great resources, an amazing network of students, who will become friends, and so much more. There are so many ways you can take advantage of all that Chapman University has to offer and it’s just so important to trust the process. Go out of your comfort zone, meet new people, go to your professors office hours, find a mentor… do everything you can to fully immerse yourself in the college environment and always keep in mind that when it comes down to it, everything will fall into place.