Life After College
Advice for freshmen: Oh, the places you’ll go and the jobs you’ll (hopefully)get!
After another typical Austin summer filled with unbearable heat and attempts to beat it, August brought with it another fresh crop of eager freshmen with youthful hopes of gaining new knowledge, making new friends and encountering new experiences in life.
Not to mention they also have hopes of finding a job when all is said and done.
Four years ago, that was a thought that was on my mind, but it was more towards the back somewhere. After finally getting two degrees under my belt (Radio-Television-Film along with Russian Studies, because why the hell not?) I figured that a grizzled veteran like myself could bestow some helpful knowledge about being prepared for life after commencement.
Do you want to be prepared for a life that revolves around a work environment removed from the class environment? Then get off your ass and find something to do in a work environment off campus. Sorry to be blunt, but it’ll save you from having to hear your parents say the same thing to you.
Internships are out there to provide unique experiences with various work settings. Sure, most likely you won’t get paid, but that experience you gain from the emersion in your field of interest and the people you meet are certainly priceless. Plus, you can often earn class credit that you would have otherwise earned by sitting through more lectures at eight in the morning.
If you would prefer to make some extra cash so you can buy retro video games or ironic t-shirts (a large part of my college budget), then part-time jobs can still give you some helpful job experience that will look good on a resume. The one downside is that you might get into a something that can be, honestly, a little less fun. I had to “pay my dues” as a cashier and at the service desk at Target before I decided to get an internship at this cool website you may have heard of.
But don’t let that deter you. Working at that service desk and dealing with pissed off customers certainly helped my people interaction skills. Everything has some payoff. And since you’re now living in Austin, a.ka. The Most Kickass City in America, you have a wealth of options of places to get some part-time work. Maybe see if one of those food trailers on SoCo is hiring.
Of course if you feel that you don’t have as much free time to devote off campus, especially in the first few years, any single campus in Austin has something to offer that is fun and exciting to do for any tastes you might have.
Now when getting involved with a student organization, the key word is involved. It doesn’t matter whether you become a representative in Student Government or a member in the Pokémon Club at UT, you need to be doing something other than just fill a seat at weekly meetings.
For about two years I was a member of University Democrats without becoming an officer, but I still felt like I made a difference by devoting time to any activity I could, whether it was registering voters or even flying out to D.C. to lobby on behalf of students.
A student organization can be a good stepping-stone to getting an awesome internship. And any employer will want to know what you were doing with your spare time between study hours, and beer-pong does not count. The same goes for flip-cup.
Build and Update a Résumé
It can at first seem a little daunting and tedious to try and put together a résumé with proper formatting. There is a plethora of websites that offer their two cents about the best format, but your best bet is to visit your university’s career center to get one-on-one face time with someone whose job it is to help students look for jobs.
But proper formatting aside, the important thing right now about keeping track of a résumé is that it serves as a living log of what it is that you’re doing in college. By even just keeping a detailed list, you can then work with someone later on to put together the best looking résumé that sums up who you are to an employer.
Résumé building is a detail that is both simple and easy to forget, but by keeping track of it you can prevent a major headache over a piece of paper that is meant to define who you are professionally.
Have Some Fun… With Friends
At times, college life can be overwhelming. So to avoid going into a catatonic state after the umpteenth response paper about the break up of the Soviet Union, by all means chill out, but preferably with other people. And not to discriminate against gamers, but Xbox Live doesn’t really count in my book.
The reason to spend free time with friends ties into what all of the above leads to: networking. This is the word that you should live by if want to build the all-important face-to-face social bonds that will define your life. It doesn’t matter whether it’s professional or just friendly networking, because you never know who it will be who can get you your big break down the road.
So text your buddies to see if they’re free tonight and go out and explore this wonderful city. I hear there’s an awesome website that can help guide you with what’s happening. You have quite a bit of time to live a fun life here, but it's never to early to start planning for the future.