Things I Wish I Knew as a Freshman – Part 1

Advice from:  Rachel Williams

1.  Join a student org. ASAP

     It’s a fact that most of the learning you’ll do in college will not be in a classroom.  It’s the real world experiences, by interacting and working with others, that will teach you the most valuable lessons and what will make you the most valuable candidate to an employer.  For me, I joined the Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE) business student organization my second semester freshman year – and that wasn’t soon enough.  Especially if you’re a freshman student struggling to land an internship opportunity, joining a student organization is the best way you’ll get that necessary experience outside of the classroom.  With SIFE, and this goes for almost any student organization, I learned how to work with others to achieve results, and how to apply my classroom lessons to actual projects that I volunteered for.  Plus, I made even more new friends during my freshman year.  It’s a win-win situation when it comes to joining an organization on-campus; and the earlier, the better.  Get that real world experience to add to your resume!

2.  Stay professional

     Think before you act – everything you post on the internet can be traced back to you.  Just like you should present yourself professionally in person, you should always maintain a professional image online as well.  Going through college, you’ll have those “interesting” pictures of you and your friends, wall posts of your friends calling you insulting, yet endearing, nicknames, and videos uploaded of you doing something crazy at that one party.  All those things can create fun memories, but don’t put it out there on the internet for everyone to see.  I wish I had known that it’s not just the image your professors have of you, but your peers as well.  Remember, your peers can possibly turn into your coworkers, or even superiors, one day.  And if you do have Facebook, become a fan of the Career Center and stay updated on what’s going on through your newsfeed, University Career Center @ UNC – Go! Add it now!!

 3.  Take your time

     As a fourth year student, with a fifth year left, I wish I had known that 20% of undergraduate college students don’t graduate on time.  I even came in as a freshman one semester ahead of myself with AP credits, and was so excited to be even closer to finishing under four years.  Then, I studied abroad (definitely recommend it!!), repeated a course, picked up a minor, and decided to prolong my extra semester into an extra year to work on my Honor’s thesis.  Somewhere between freshman and junior year, I realized that college is not about getting in and out; it’s about getting enough knowledge and experience to really make something of yourself.  For this reason, don’t stress if you haven’t picked a major yet, that’s why self-assessments, like the Strong Interest Inventory and Myers-Briggs, are available in the Career Center– to help you figure it out and then go from there.

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I hope these lessons learned will bring some new found knowledge to you early enough for you to be proactive about your college career and to start taking steps in the right direction now.  World famous peace activist, David Starr Jordan, once said, “Wisdom is knowing what to do next, skill is knowing how to do it, and virtue is doing it.”  So, find an organization to join, maintain a professional image, and just enjoy the ride of being a college student and finding your place in the world.  The University Career Center has helped me in taking the right steps to get to where I am now (finding the internships, getting the interviews, and adding to my experience), and it can do the same for you. 

P.S. – Stay tuned for Part 2 of the series, “Things I Wish I Knew as a Freshman – Part 2,” later in the semester – it will be even better advice you DON’T want to miss.

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