Advice Pieces. / St. Norbert College / This is me.

Invest in yourself.

A few days ago I was with one of my friends when I turned to her and said, “I am just so excited to go back to work.” Naturally she asked me if I was being sarcastic. But for once I wasn’t.

Toward the end of my first year of college, I began the job search for the following academic year. I was involved in a wild amount of activities during my freshmen year, but a job was not one of them. I did want a job for the sake of having a little income, but primarily as a chance to gain some relevant experience and meet people. I was looking for more of a learning opportunity than a monotonous job. What I didn’t know at the time was that I’d be rejected for the job I thought I wanted (and a few others); that someone would suggest I apply for a position at the Sturzl Center; that I’d end up with some of the best supervisors there are; and that my job would lead me to my anticipated vocation in Student Affairs.

I applied for two of their open positions and was asked to come in for an interview. I walked into a room filled with 4 people, all of which were interviewing me. Scary. They asked me some really thought-provoking, self-analytical questions (no idea what they were now/or 10 seconds after I answered them most likely), but I made it through. At the time I was nervous and I remember thinking that my responses were subpar. But somehow everything turned out.

I spent a wonderful year and a half working at the Sturzl Center for Community Service and Learning as the Student Project and Marketing Coordinator. I realize you probably didn’t catch any of that. But my title’s not too important. I liked my job. And I liked the people who I was lucky enough to work with. And I was learning a lot about the college, the field, and myself.

Then I decided to study abroad. Before I left to study abroad, I had to make the decision of whether I was going to come back to the Sturzl Center or not. As a component (non-requirement) of my marketing concentration, I decided it would be best to obtain a Marketing Internship if possible, and take it for credit during my senior year. My position with the Sturzl Center didn’t qualify for this (because I had to be directly supervised by someone with marketing experience). And since the plan was to have a different internship during the fall semester, I declined the offer to come back and they hired someone new to fill my position.

To cut to the chase, I studied abroad and chose not to take the Market Research class that I had originally planned on taking (personal decision based on time commitment), and in turn, I ended up being behind by one class (I was aware of this situation when I decided not to take it). So I that meant I had to take a class during the Maymester or the Summer, no matter what. Which meant that I might as well take the internship for credit during the summer.

Throughout my time abroad I applied for internships every chance I got. If I wasn’t offered a relevant internship, I couldn’t take the internship for credit like I wanted to. I ended up being offered the Special Events Intern position at The Einstein Project, a non-profit in Green Bay, for the summer. I submitted an application to take the internship for credit and the college approved it. The internship ended up being a part-time internship (12 hours/week), so that meant free time. And free time meant…find another job.

So I took a shot in the dark (thanks to a suggestion by my mother) and decided to check in with the Sturzl Center to see if they needed any help/knew of another office on campus that needed help. Because at this point I was looking for any extra Student Affairs-related experience I could get (and still am!). I knew they had found someone to fill my previous position, but lucky for me, they invited me to come in and talk over possible job opportunities…and now I’m back in the office part-time for the summer!

It was my first day back yesterday and my second day today. And I couldn’t be happier.

I’ve learned a few things since that first interview:

#1) When you’re a freshman in college, you don’t know what you want. Even if you think you do.

#2) The only way you’re ever going to figure out what you’re passionate about is by exploring everything that interests you.

#3) Keep your eyes open for opportunities. All of them.

#4) Apply for jobs, value the interview, and learn something (whether you’re offered the job or not).

#5) Be self-aware. Invest in yourself. Figure out who you are and you’ll figure out what you want to do. At the most fundamental level at least. I still don’t know what I actually want to do.

#6) If you’re pretty far into your major and suddenly change your mind…switch majors. You’re not going to care that it took you an extra year or two obtain the degree and future career that you want. But you will regret not changing your mind while you were still in college.

#7) Talk to everyone. Ask questions. And listen.

#8) Thank the people who help you understand more about the world and yourself.

#9) The fact that I’m able to say, “I am just so excited to go back to work.”, is crazy lucky.

#10) I wish the majority of people could say that too…and be serious about it, not sarcastic.

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2 thoughts on “Invest in yourself.

  1. My Dearest Laura, you are indeed a lucky young woman and you have a clear vision and a great understanding of what’s important in life. I completely get it. I too feel the same with my job and more so with my family. My family [kids] are my world and if you “get it” at your age, you are going to be a fantastic mother to your kids, should you be blessed to have a pile of your own. It just keeps getting better! Much Love,

    Uncle Tim

    • Well thank you so much. 🙂 If I ever give out awards for the best blog commenter, you’re getting a trophy. You’re responses are so thoughtful…I love them every time. Even if it takes me a long time to comment back. 😉 You are blessed with such an amazing family and I’m blessed to be a part of it too! Thanks a ton! Love you more.

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