Your freshman year can be the best and most productive year where you might walk away feeling that you have found who you are meant to be. Or it can go downhill really fast. The only difference is how well you are prepared.
As the spring semester goes on, more and more high school seniors like you are getting excited and starting to prepare for college. You might be excited for college with dreams of meeting new best friends, THE ONE *nudge nudge*, finding out who you are meant to be, and so on. But, it can also be all-nighters, freshman 15, stress, and getting overwhelmed by a thousand things happening around you. So, I am here to tell you the things that you might forget to prepare. Trust me on this, I mentor 10 freshmen throughout the whole academic year so I know exactly what you need.
1. Go to professor’s office hours and talk!
Yes! Talk! Go to his/her office hours, ask some questions about the class, and talk! Talk about everything and anything; you will find out that that’s how you gain a mentor especially if you are interested in the subject he/she teaches. I found my mentor the same way; we can go on for hours jumping around topics like graduate schools, majors, internships, and full-time job offers. He’s also became the faculty advisor for the organization I set up. It’s the best way to network and as a bonus, they have candy most of the time!
2. Feel like you don’t know anyone? Volunteer!
As a Hoosier, you can volunteer through many clubs and organizations on campus. You can also sign up at the non-profits themselves. One valuable subscription you can make for your college career is to subscribe to the City of Bloomington Volunteer Network where you can get weekly newsletter on one-time volunteer opportunities (a perfect fit for busy bees like us!) and ongoing opportunities.There are so many many many many opportunities for you to volunteer and get to know locals and fellow Hoosiers! Is there a better way to get to know people and the beautiful town itself?!
3. Job Shadow. Job Shadow. Job Shadow.
I repeat–job shadow. Job shadowing is the way to know how working the job that your major is going to get you is like. As freshmen you won’t have a clear idea of what you want to major in just yet. An average college student typically change their majors three times and sometimes, unluckily, in their junior or senior years. This delays your graduation and your post-graduation celebratory European round trip with your best friend *wink wink nudge nudge*. So, job shadow a lot of professionals in various fields that you are interested in! And don’t forget to send your thank-you letter within 24 hours after you job shadow! (obviously a well-trained Kelley student, am I right?)
4. Network and boost your career!
Network? What does that mean? Network and get to know professionals at career fairs, professional events, and information sessions. Career fairs are just another reason to dress up in suits and nice shiny shoes. Networking will open up gold mines of job shadows and even possible internships. If you are seeking a part-time job, go to the career fairs and get to know people. Yes, people, if you are like the old me who was shy to talk and promote herself, you should practice pitching yourself at these kind of fairs. Summer county fairs work too but you probably don’t want to be in the circus.
5. Get your “college” resume and cover letter ready!
Yup, get ’em ready by spring semester the latest especially if you are looking for a part-time job or a boost in your resume! Drop by your college’s career services center or the university’s Career Development Center to get advice from professionals about writing a competitive resume and a cover letter. Having both of them handy will do you good! Believe me, editing your resume and cover letters are a never-ending job. It took me three appointments with my career coach to get my resume and cover letter scrutinized for one internship application. And don’t forget LinkedIn! If you don’t have a complete LinkedIn profile, you are still not an official college student yet!
6. Thinking about Studying Abroad?!
Most of the international students don’t usually consider studying abroad, hence missing out a perfectly good opportunity to expand your horizons! There are so many choices at IU; study abroad, volunteer abroad, internship abroad, short-term, summer programs, and semester programs. I recently applied for a London Internship Abroad so why not?! It is a great way to learn more about the world–and yes, there’s more to learn in different parts of the world. Make it your mission your travel abroad (not to your home country or vacation places) during your four years with us!
Last, but not least, ENJOY TIME WITH FRIENDS! Make new friends (I will be writing a blog about how to turn group members into your closest friends in a few weeks so hang tight)! Explore the glory of old IU by going to the Big 10 sporting events and world-class (discounted for IU students like us *wink wink*) events at Jacobs! All you have to do now after preparing for your freshman year is to enjoy the ride. But, don’t forget your roots and your aspirations during this wild four years of your life!
May the odds be ever in your favor! *whistles*