As a student working towards my undergraduate degree at SUNY Oswego, I learned very early on that professional success is not all about academics and burying your head in overpriced textbooks every night like society will have you to believe. However, I learned that it requires a student to be well rounded, knowledgeable, and experienced in order to get closer to their desired career.
While taking classes each semester as an undergrad, I almost made it a mission to network and work with various people within my school community and beyond. I started off by working in the campus residential dining hall part time, which led to me gaining a job as a residence desk attendant. I believe working as a desk attendant was one of my best professional experiences, because I was able to interact with and serve fellow residents and their families while under the supervision of the residence hall director. That experienced taught me how to be a responsible employee and student while maintaining good work ethic. During this time I began volunteering in nursing homes and involving myself in service community projects, but I still wanted to immerse myself in more so I began my search. I decided to take full advantage of the many opportunities that most college campuses have to offer that students may not be fully aware of.
At the end of my junior year, a position opened up on a school organization that I could not past up; the organization was a campus based nonprofit student based club called the Women’s Center. This club was known to advocate for more equalized women’s rights, hosting and orchestrating the popular Vagina Monologues, and introducing the campus to Take Back the Night. It turned out the current executive board were all graduating so a new team was needed to be put together and I was interested in the secretary position as my work experiences made me a qualified candidate. I applied for the position and was offered the position as their first choice and would begin the fall semester of senior year. Working as member of the Women’s Center required me to work closely with other students and learning how to be an effective member of a team, learn to collaborate with other organizations, devising club meetings, and most importantly balancing organizational budgets.
I know you are probably wondering by now, that’s it right? The answer to that is “No!” At this point I was applying to graduate school programs for School Counseling and I wanted to make sure that my application stood out from the rest by ensuring I was not only academically competent, but professionally experienced too. So what could I possibly do next? I intended to find the answer to that, when an opening as peer advisor in the psychology department was vacant and only one position was available for the semester. I knew that my chances were slim to none as there were more applicants than actual positions, but I wanted to try my luck so I applied and was called for an interview with the faculty advisor and professor of the department. After my interview, I waited a week before hearing if I received the position or not and I contacted that I did, as they were impressed with previous work experiences and believed I possessed the skills necessary for this job. I have been able to use all of these work experiences as learning experiences and tools to progress in my professional career while also establishing relationships with my mentors and supervisors whom I can ask for advice, letters of recommendation, and list as references, etc. So words to the wise for all high students, current and future college students: the key to excelling professionally is not just achieving a 3.0 GPA (although that is very important!) you must always balance your responsibilities and get out there and network, network, network!
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