3 Things I Wish I Was Told As A College Freshman

studying


Today’s guest post comes from Jenny. In her own words: “I am currently a junior in college and living in New York City. Going through the job recruitment process now has made me reflect a lot on the past 3 years of my life. Here are some things I wish I had been told on day one:”

Pick a major you love, not necessarily one that is related to the career you think you want.

There is a very simple reason for this: if the subject is something you enjoy learning, you will inevitably be good at it and that will lead to a high GPA. From experience, I can say that GPA has been the very first factor used by both large and mid-size firms when screening applicants’ resumes and thus is a deciding factor in landing your first internships and full-time jobs. It is to your dual advantage to have a high GPA while studying what you enjoy.

But what if I am a biology major and want to go into the financial services industry, you ask – shouldn’t I major in economics or finance? Not at all.

See, with all of the competition in today’s job market, companies have grown to love the “story hires”. These are people who have a story as to why they have decided to change their career path or explore other options and that makes them more interesting to employers and well-rounded as individuals. I know for a fact there are people working at one of the top investment banks on Wall Street right now who actually have medical degrees and used to be surgeons.

You can major in whatever you want, as long as you are able to talk about “transferrable skills” you acquired along the way that are relevant to the job.

Have a 5-Year Plan.

Although this is not Soviet Russia under Stalin, it is important to have an idea about what the next 5 years of your life will look like. I was blind-sided when my junior year of college rolled around, summer internship recruitment season was in full swing, and all of sudden all of the interviewers expected me to know exactly what location, what division and what group I want to work in. I felt like I had to decide the rest of my life in just 2 weeks.

Very often when young adults start college, they are advised that they should use this time (all 4 years) to explore. Though I am in no way against this, I do believe that “exploring” should be done in a specific direction. Because at the end of those 4 years, everyone will want the same thing: a job to start their career.  The people who have done the research, know what to expect, and have a clearer sense of the direction of their career are in a much better position.

Take a few minutes to plan what classes to take when, which school clubs may be good to get involved in, and start talking to upperclassmen about their experiences so you know what to expect.

Start Talking to Upperclassmen About Their Experiences

Upperclassmen are a seriously under-valued and untapped resource for underclassmen. These are people who were just recently in your shoes and have survived it unscathed and that much wiser. Why not ask them about it?

A lot of times first-year (and second year) students are intimidated by upperclassmen and tend to shy away from interaction, let alone asking for advice. I remember I used to think upperclassmen were so much smarter and so busy that they could not possibly relate to me. Well, with time I have learned that all it takes is some courage to ask a question and the rest works out. You would be surprised how incredibly willing people are to give advice if you just ask for it.

I recently adopted a freshman buddy in this way. I was at an event and this girl sat down next to me, we started talking, and she later asked for my telephone number so that she may call me if she needs advice. I gladly gave it to her and now she texts me whenever she has questions.

The next time you’re in class, at a club meeting, sporting event or a company presentation, approach an upperclassman and ask a question. They were in your shoes just a year or two ago and can give you so much information about the right classes, professors, clubs, and internships that you would never be able to find on Google.

Jenny is a undergradute finance major attending college in New York and a first-time contributor on brip blap.

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