A Letter to my Fellow Undergrads
Like most of you, I'm making final preparations for my return to campus. And aside from the smart phone I am hoping to get for the new school year, I think I'm ready to go.
This fall I will start my fourth and final year at DePauw University. As a double major in Communications and Sociology-Anthropology it seems as if my career paths are unlimited. The possibilities upon graduation seem extensive with a Liberal Arts degree such as mine, where a Communications degree covers everything from mass media to marketing to interpersonal communication. But without a specific focus listed on your diploma, how do you guide your experiences down a specific career path? How do you decide what to do?
This spring, as I started planning for my final year of college, I knew I needed to start answering some of these questions. It was time for an internship, time to be hands on. My first internship at WNDU-TV last January started to help guide me down the road I want to take, but it also left me longing for more hands on experience. At WNDU, I loved the constant interaction with new people as a reporter, and the possibility of not knowing what you will be doing day to day is exhilarating, but also exhausting. At one point, I ended up interviewing a state congressman while dressed in a puffy coat and snow boots appropriate for a blizzard, while everyone else was wearing suits and ties. I knew one thing, if that was the road I chose, I would need about five wardrobe changes in the backseat of my car at all times.
Following my time at WNDU, I still wasn't sure about what road to choose, so with just a year left before graduation, I decided to pursue an internship in marketing and public relations. As a result, I have spent my summer as an intern at Villing & Company. I have found that what I expected to be a career involving meetings and press releases is so much more. Within my first days as an intern at Villing & Company, I was gathering competitive research for a prospective client. Before long, I was helping to run social media accounts, accumulating survey data, assisting with commercial shoots, and organizing major events. While preparing for our company's 30th anniversary party, I was even assigned to pick out decorations and 80's music posters (not a bad job for a music lover like myself). And while all of this will look great on a resume, it more importantly has helped guide me down a potential career path.
Because even with the excellent education I have received thus far at DePauw, I still wasn't sure that I was moving towards a specific career that would fit my passions and needs. Classroom experience is like marketing. You research and learn about skills, planning presentations; however, you will not know if what you have been planning to pitch will be a success until the day you stand up and present it.
You can learn about your possible career for years in the classroom, but until you get that hands on experience at a company, you will not know if it is right for you... if you even know then! My current internship at Villing has shown me that this field will allow me to interact with a variety of clients on a daily basis. This kind of personal interaction is very important to me when it comes to choosing a career and was a key takeaway from my experience at WNDU, only this time I do not need the spare clothes in my car.
So if you too are trying to figure out what path to take upon graduation, but all you have done is spent hours in the classroom,
I can't stress enough the importance of taking part in an internship. In fact, take part in multiple internships! Weigh the positives and negatives. Do you love the exhilaration of not knowing what you will do day to day or do you prefer some stability? Is personal interaction important, or would you rather stick to a cubicle? Use your time to gain experience and skills, but also to discover what career path is best for you.
I hope I haven't left you too stressed as you pack up for school and as I get back to my search for a new smartphone. Maybe you can convince your parents of the necessity of a smartphone upon your return to college as well. Another tough path to choose… Verizon or AT&T? iPhone or Android? I guess we will have to weigh some more positives and negatives.
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