In my own fertile imagination, I’ve gained a bit of experience and a lot of insights as a public relations professional now teaching the next generation(s) of PR pros both at Curry College (undergrad/full-time) and Regis College (grad/part-time).
One thing I’ve noticed is the way in which my students approach the current challenges of completing their studies while, at the same time, preparing for the inevitable…their future. There seem to be two distinct approaches: one, a methodically-planned regimen; the other, a hit-or-miss, last-minute mad dash.
Now I may not be the best source of advice based on my own college experience. Took me seemingly forever to figure out what I wanted to study (my “specialty”) and, when I finally did graduate (much to my parents’ relief), what I wanted to do based on my studies.
Happy to report I escaped with minimal damage to my naïvete and maximum belief that I would eventually find something.
What I didn’t do back in those blissfully-ignorant days was “plan ahead”…for classes, for a career, for life…and “stay behind”…to take advantage of the amazing knowledge and experience that lived in the collective brains of my professors.
It’s something I regret in a way. (I say “in a way” because those professors whose guidance might have been helpful actually were in an area that I studied for but never…to this day…have worked in…English literature.)
But the more important message here is that help was available had I completed the second part of the equation…“stay behind” to actually ask for advice. I just didn’t take advantage of it.
That was then, though, and this is now. (Love these clichés!) Things have changed. Life has shifted into high gear. While job opportunities are abundant in some areas, they’re less so in others, which means that the competition can be somewhat intense.
Which should lead to a logical question: “What do I do to at least have a fighting chance after college?”
Simple, but difficult, said the wizened sage.
First, plan ahead…for your life at college, for your coursework, for your future after college. Look over the requirements for the major that you think will be yours. What courses are required? What courses would be “value-added”? How can you make it all work for you?
Then…stay behind…in those classes that relate to your area of interest to ask questions, get advice, and (hopefully) simply talk.
Talk to your adviser and/or someone in the department where your major “lives” who has real-life experience in your area of interest to get his or her guidance. What did he or she do to get started and to get ahead?
Then dive merrily into the pool. You’’ll have lots of company, and you’ll have fun!
“The secret of success is constancy to purpose.” – Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield, Speech [June 24, 1872]