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Making the Most Out of Your College Experience

By Imani Scott-Smittick

There always seems to be pressure to become involved in extracurricular activities in school. In high school, a handful of extracurricular options and interest groups were readily available. There was often an academic incentive or extra credit for getting involved and attending school events. Teachers would advertise events in the classroom, pushing students to become involved with the school outside of a learning environment. The daily morning news provided the school with upcoming sports and performing arts events. Seniors experienced the pressure of college application deadlines and the pressing need to write a good résumé, filling it with any experience that’s available.

But the moment you step onto new, college turf, the pressure to become involved reaches a new level. The emphasis on school involvement, academic standing, volunteering, interning, etc. can be overwhelming. As a new (or returning) student, experience and networking is key to getting ahead of the game. Despite a sense of comradery and exciting, newly found adulthood, getting your name and image out there is important. But how does a 20-something-year-old first year college student begin? Whom do you want to connect with and where can you find the professionals that can help further your blossoming career? Step one: take a deep breath.

Step two: find activities. Despite the overwhelming obligation to use all the resources available to further your future, it’s best to pick just a few and start from there. Although Indiana University’s size may be intimidating, each specific school (such as the School of Public Health) offers broad and specific resources. One of these resources is the Office of Career Services, a resource specifically geared toward molding young professionals, leaders, and employees.

Step three: begin your career planning and development. Seek out resources and professionals that may be relevant to you. One specific resource is the panel events that are hosted by IUSPH, one or two occurring every month. These panels consist of various professionals in the health-related field and often end with a networking session. I never realized how important these particular events were until I became an intern at the School of Public Health. Ever since elementary school, we have always been introduced to these hip and successful professionals. They’d come in, tell us about how great and fulfilling their jobs were, and encourage us to follow our dreams. While it was nice to hear, it wasn’t exactly practical. Before and even during college, students learn the importance of taking their future into their own hands, so I attended a panel event that was being put on by the school. Three New York sports marketing and business managers (all three alumni) flew into town and served as a panel. They spoke of their success, hard lessons they learned, and answered questions provided by my peers. Although my major has nothing to do with sports, my direct experience taught me how to connect with people and the importance of keeping in contact. For those who aren’t confident in their networking skills, IUSPH also offers several workshops that provide information on a diverse number of topics. These topics range from dressing professionally, to learning successful interviewing tips, and learning how to communicate effectively with employers.

Although IU is large for some, a culture shock, or overwhelming for others it is important for students to dip their feet into the experimental waters of the professional world. Taking charge of your fate and how you get to your end goal is step four. Don’t be shy; reach out, ask for assistance, and remember you don’t have to do it alone. Reach out to those few professors who remember you, attend academic events, and gain experience in whatever way is convenient. Your confidence and understanding of how a school works will be extremely beneficial later on in the real world.

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Categories: Career Advice

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IUSPH Career Services

Job opportunities for Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington majors are diverse and expanding as the emphasis on living a healthy lifestyle grows around the world. Career Services experts in each of our academic departments will provide one-on-one counseling and career building opportunities throughout your academic career, from choosing the right major to developing a strategy to find a job. They can assist you with:

•career counseling
•internships
•job placement
•volunteer opportunities
•resume and cover letter preparation
•interview skills
•networking
•graduate school preparation

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