Tuesday, August 4, 2009

When Squirrels Attack: The Freshmen Survival Guide

This week's entry goes out to all of the "youngsters" who will be entering college this fall. Just to make it clear right away, to the best of my knowledge, no one has actually been attacked by squirrels on MSU's campus or any other campus that I know of. Do not fear the MSU squirrels. As long as you're not covered from head to toe with peanut butter, you shouldn't have anything to worry about.

Continuing on, I'd like to focus on a few main points that will help incoming freshmen prepare for college and especially for starting their exploration of the job market. I know it seems like it may be too early to start thinking about jobs, but the sooner you get your basics down, the better. Honing your networking, interviewing, and resume skills now will help you stand out sooner and help enrich your college experience.

Not sure where to start? The first step is to figure out where you are now and where you'd like to be in the near future. Here are some questions you should be asking yourself:
  • Do I have a resume?
  • Do I know how to write a cover letter?
  • Have I ever interviewed before?
  • Do I know what kind of major I'd like to have in college? If so, what kinds of things am I interested in relating to that major that I look into to get more information about my major?
  • Do I know who my adviser is? Have I been in contact with them yet?
  • Do I have any extracurricular interests I'd like to pursue at school? Are there any clubs or organizations that cater to my interests?
Once you've gone through these questions, your next step is going to be finding ways to find out the things that you don't know, but will hopefully learn over the next few months. College is a great opportunity to focus on what you WANT to learn and less on what you HAVE to learn. There are always going to be classes that you aren't 100% happy with, but for the most part, your college education should include subjects that you enjoy on some level or that you at least feel are valuable to your future. On a side note, if you seem to be majoring in things where course numbers will never be assigned...like flip cup or power napping and only minoring in things like math or economics, maybe it's time to re-evaluate your goals.

Some great ways to answer these questions are by asking questions. Find upperclassmen, advisers, faculty members, and other students who have experience in any of these subjects. If you have never heard of resumes before and don't have a clue what a cover letter is, stop by one of the many career services centers on campus and find out. There's a solid chance that someone will be able to tell you then and there or at least direct you on the right path. If all else fails, ask me!

Another aspect of making the most of your college experience is getting involved with extracurricular activities. This is a great way to make new friends, try new activities, and spend time participating in activities you enjoy. For example, if you have been a huge fan of break dancing for years, but never really had a chance to try it, there's actually a club on campus for people who love to break dance! Seriously! This applies for a lot of other things, too. You can play intramural sports, join professional organizations based around your major, and if there's not a group that fits your interests, you can even register your own student organization. Cool, right?

I know this doesn't give a whole lot of specifics on how exactly to survive your first year at school, but the first step of your college career is going to be to define what you'd like it to encompass. One thing that I can guarantee about your college experience is that if you make an effort to grow and learn something new every day, week, and semester, you will never be disappointed with your experience.

In summary, this is the time to start figuring out what you'd like to do to learn. Before you know it, you will surrounded by hundreds of people who are going to contribute to your academic education and your education in life.

Welcome Future Spartan Job Seekers!

And watch out for squirrels. ; )

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