The Student After Life

Valuable lessons to take away from college as the real world approaches

Strictly hypothetical…

STRICTLY HYPOTHETICAL EXAMPLE:

Let’s say we have a blog writer, we’ll call her “Abby”. Abby looks for inspiration for her blog everywhere. This time, she’s in the library looking around, looking for people who might be doing something that she could blog about. She’s got her blog site open, a fresh page for a fresh post. Only Abby is making a critical mistake. She doesn’t have a plan.

Shame on you, Gabby…I mean..uhh… Abby.

When doing an assignment for class, make sure you always have a plan.

Abby typed something out, re-read it, then held down “Backspace” because she hated what she wrote. What was the point of that?! There was none! Now all she has is a blank page with that cursor just blinking over and over and over again as if it’s mocking her. “Hellloooooo. Are you still there? Gonna write something anytime soon?!”

Abby thinks to  herself, “Be quiet cursor. I’ll get to you in a minute. I’m planning.”

She’s sitting there staring at the blinking cursor when all of a sudden…AN IDEA!

“THIS. IS. GENIUS.” she thinks to herself. Her fingers spring into action and begin typing words at speeds she didn’t even know she had. She looks up and sees that she’s successfully completed ONE paragraph…..and she’s written all she can.

UGH.

Backspace. Backspace. Backspace. Backspace.

This is where a plan would be helpful.

At this point in the game, Abby is most likely on Facebook, refreshing every 5 minutes hoping for some earth-shattering news or for someone to post something really profound that will become the inspiration for her assignment.

NOTHING. She begins to blame her Facebook friends for not posting anything that is blog-worthy. How rude of them.

Then out of nowhere. ANOTHER IDEA.

“THIS. IS. GENIUS.”

…oh no, she’s had that thought before.

Before she knows it, she’s typed out an assignment about how having a plan is essential.

No backspace required.

Again, this was strictly hypothetical.

Feel free to stop blinking now you evil cursor.

 

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Master the fine art known as BS-ing

Writing a resume makes me want to cry. “Do potential employers care about this? Do they care that I worked here? Oh god, my grade point average sucks.”

Add resume writing on top of the stress of searching for a job and it’s no wonder people stay in school for 4+ years. “Whaddya mean I have to have 2 years of professional experience?! How am I ever going to get professional experience if nobody will give it to me?!”

Heck, last night I applied for a job that I’m so not even qualified for. I applied for 5 different positions with the Washington Nationals (Nationals Human Resources- If you’re reading this, I’d really like a job! (:  ) Ok, they’re not reading this, but a little sucking up never hurt anybody.

A little BS-ing on a resume never hurt anybody either.

My very first job was at Blockbuster (which I’m sad to say has now gone out of business- R.I.P). Not a very glamorous job, but my mother told me that you never diss a company that’s willing to pay you. I was able to BS this job enough on my first resume to make it sound like I was THE Blockbuster.

I was also able to make it sound like I was an essential part of Target’s payroll. I made it sound like if I wasn’t at work, the whole store would just fall apart- when in fact it meant someone wouldn’t be sitting at the fitting room giving customers that little plastic card with a number on it.

I’m sorry to say that neither Blockbuster nor Target made it onto my big girl resume. Employers aren’t going to care that I can straighten shelves and hand customers plastic numbers.

What DID make my resume was a perfectly BS-ed description of my Defense Contracting job. Now, I’m not saying you should make things up- that’s a huge no-no. What you do have to do is make yourself sound like an invaluable employee. Make your responsibilities sound bigger than the were.

The first thing I have underneath the Defense Contracting job is “Lead researcher of a team responsible for collecting and analyzing data for a biometrics database project for Department of Defense (DoD) use; collaborated with legal team on accuracy of data and areas needing further research”

Wow that’s a mouthful. It’s also 100% correct. It also makes me sound like I the head honcho of that company when in fact I was just a temporary employee. I somehow managed to take “Had a couple conference calls and meetings with one or two other people about collecting data” and “Leaned back in my chair and told my cubicle partner ‘Okay, I’m going to research these 3 countries, you take these 3′” and turn it into that brilliant sounding bullet point.

Lead researcher has a nice ring to it.

Buried under all these personal examples is a very important lesson. Make yourself sound important. Jobs want two years professional experience? Make it sound like you’ve already had that. Learn to master the fine art that is BS-ing. It could lead to bigger and better things…like oh, I don’t know….a job with the Nationals. They’re still not reading? Rats. Maybe one day. I did highlight on my resume that I was proficient in various blogging platforms. 🙂

Until next time…

P.S. Thanks mom for the blog idea!

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Food chain

TWO POSTS IN ONE DAY? SAY WHAAAT?!

Inspiration has been lacking lately. Time has become a precious commodity. Blogging unfortunately took a back seat to other classwork. But I’m back with a vengeance.

Today we’re going to talk about professors. Ready, set, go!

In high school we’re all made to believe that there is a very specific hierarchy that exists within the walls of our school. Goes a little something like this:

Principal –> Administration –> Teachers –> Us

There we are. Bottom of the food chain.

Then we enter college. Same frame of mind still applies. (Yes I know colleges don’t have principals, so substitute that for President).

Should the President be respected and treated as though they’ve work their behind off to get to this position? Absolutely.

Does that mean their untouchable? Absolutely not.

But we aren’t focusing on the President (oh, just FYI- Longwood’s president recently participated in a flash mob. It’s okay to be jealous other schools). We’re focusing on professors.

Don’t be afraid to approach your professors for help. I know some of them give off a “I’m better than you because I have 47 master’s degrees and I’ve written 14 dissertations” vibe, but you never know how they really are until you approach them outside of class. OF COURSE they’re going to give off a “I’m the professor, you’re the student” feeling in class. There has to be a sense of.. I don’t want to say dominance because they aren’t necessarily in charge of us…but there has to be a sense of respect and understanding that occurs between a professor and his/her students.

I’ve never had the greatest grades in college. I’m not ashamed to admit that. I’ve managed to do alright, but never great. Professors are available to help you be great. (Man, how cheesy was THAT?!)

The hierarchy exists in college. Just not in the same way. Don’t be afraid to approach your professors outside of class. It took me a couple semesters to realize that professors are people too (but oh man isn’t it still sooo awkward to see them at a restaurant or at the grocery store?!) They’ve been in our shoes before. Trust me, professors will remember who came to them outside of class for help.

Break the food chain.

Until next time…

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Golden rule, anyone?

Picture yourself in a classroom setting. Suddenly, you begin to freak out and looking frantically around the room hoping to make eye contact with someone. WHAT’S HAPPENING?! Your professor has just uttered the words some college students hate to hear::

GROUP. PROJECT.

I’ll be up front with you. I absolutely LOATHE/DESPISE/DETEST/ABHOR/HATE group work, but throughout every group project I’ve had, I’ve managed to learn some things and it’s the topic for today’s post.

Do you remember that song “Bossy” by Kelis? She’s probably more famous for gracing society with the lyrical genius that is “My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard…” but that’s a whole different story. The opening lyrics to her song “Bossy” are:  “You don’t have to love me, you don’t even have to like me. But you will respect me.”

Hmm. Kelis might be on to something.

There’s always those one or two kids in class that just seem to rub you the wrong way. Whenever they talk, all you’re hearing in your mind is “Shut up shut up shut up shut up.” So, naturally whenever a group project rolls around you get put in a group with one of these kids. OF COURSE. You shuffle over to your group, dreading what’s to come. You begin to talk to your partner, discussing possible topics/ideas and dates for meetings. Your group mate suffers from the following:

DISCLAIMER:: *If any of these the things I’m about to list describe you, I promise you it’s merely coincidental. This post is not meant to attack anyone* 

  • He/she throws out ideas that are in no way/shape/form related to your topic or the class
  • He/she looks at you to lead the way for the entire project
  • He/she is always absent and is possibly not even there the day groups are assigned
  • He/she is NEVER free during the week except for like 10 PM on Mondays and like 7 AM on Fridays

Doomed. From. The. Start.

I know there’s a lot of background information and scenarios in here. But in order to properly convey my message, I had to make sure you all understood where I was coming from. Maybe you’ve never been in a situation like this and you can’t identify with any of the things I’m saying. Now you can (somewhat, anyways)

Here’s what I’ve learned through my many experiences with group work: Just suck it up and do it. You can try and talk to your professor about reassigning you, but as a professor of mine once told me “sympathy is in my dictionary between ‘s***’ and ‘syphilis.'” You’re stuck with this person. You’re expected to do your project. Do the project and move on. You don’t have to become best friends with this person. IT’S OKAY TO NOT LIKE SOME PEOPLE. Let me say that one more time:: IT’S OKAY TO NOT LIKE SOME PEOPLE.

It’s not okay to disrespect whoever you’re working with.

I know this all seems a little “golden rule-y” and whatnot, but I think it needed to be said now. This is the time of year when end of the semester presentations are being assigned and you’ve been around your current classmates long enough to know which ones “bother” you and which ones are alright. Just remember to respect each other’s opinions and if you have to, let their ideas down gently. It’ll all work out for the better.

And if all else fails, listen to the first 11 seconds of”Bossy

Until next time…

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I’m gonna use what?!

Think back to 7th….ish grade math class. A time when teachers taught on the whiteboard and not via PowerPoint. On that whiteboard, the teacher is drawing something extremely foreign and looks like something a 4 year-old could draw. It’s got some numbers and some other probably important things on it. Remember the box and whiskers plot? No? We’re about to take a trip down memory lane…

For those of you who are like me and have blocked out everything math-related that isn’t adding, subtracting, multiplying, or dividing,  a box and whiskers plot was that rectangle thing with the two lines drawn from it. Looked like this:

Do you remember thinking, “When am I EVER going to use this?” I believe someone in my class asked that once after learning this box and whiskers thing and the teacher replied with, “Well….you can use it at the grocery store to compare cereal prices!” ……I’m sorry, what? The grocery store is crazy enough. I do not need people, armed with their notebooks and calculators, standing in front of the cereal trying to compare prices. As 7th…ish grade ended, so did learning the box and whiskers plot. We barely knew ye.

If you thought I was going to tell you that I took a trip to the good ol’ Farmville Wal-Mart and ended up dusting off my calculator to construct a cereal-comparing box and whiskers plot….you were wrong.

What I am going to tell you is to keep an open mind to everything you learn during your time in college. Granted, you aren’t going to use every piece of information you’ve learned from every class you’ve ever taken, but it just might come in handy during a heated Jeopardy! competition.

….Am I the only one who has heated Jeopardy! competitions? Oh boy, this just got awkward…Uh okay…back to the topic at hand.

So maybe you won’t use the information in Jeopardy! competitions, but you never know what sort of information you’re going to be required to know for whatever career path you choose. Make sure you’re ready and can prove that you were able to take some valuable things away from each and every class. The minute you think to yourself, “I’m never going to use that” you immediately shut yourself off from whatever is being taught that day. Allow yourself to learn new things. If you’re learning something you already know, allow yourself to expand that knowledge. I promise you won’t regret it.

 

Until next time…

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The dreaded question…

When children are growing up, they’re often asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Common answers included:

* Astronaut

*Firefighter

* Doctor/Veterinarian

* Professional athlete

My answer one time when I was very, very little was, “Mommy, I don’t want to be a boy!!” (Insert laughing here). Well here I am, some 20 years later, still a girl. MISSION. ACCOMPLISHED.

Now that we’ve all had a good laugh, let’s begin with the real reason behind this blog. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” A simple question that offered up some carefree, funny answers when we were kids now sends us into a panic. (Not panicking at the sight of “What do you want to be when you grow up?” How about this: “How many of you know what you want to do after you graduate?)

Wait…you mean, “How many of you know what you want to do after you grow up?”, yeah? No? Are you sure? Cuz I still feel like a 16 year old trapped in a 22 year old’s body. Growing up and graduating are two different things…..right?

As much as we try to avoid this question like the plague, we must come to realize that “growing up” and “graduate” are interchangeable. “I don’t know” is an acceptable answer for a freshmen, sophomore, and it can maybe slide by if you’re a junior. Us seniors are expected to know what we want to do and how we’re going to go about getting into that career field.

I’ve always been jealous of the people who’ve known what they wanted to do since they were kids. And if that category applies to anyone reading this– good for you, I wish you all the best. But for those of us who it took a little longer to figure out…DON’T PANIC. I didn’t figure out that I love to film and edit stuff until my fall semester of my fifth year. Do I think I’m going to walk across that stage in May and immediately be able to find a job? Helllllll no. Do I think people are going to rephrase this dreaded question to sound something like, “What are you going to do now?” Helllllll yes.

You’re going to find something at college that you absolutely love to do. You’re going to find stuff you absolutely hate. If you aren’t sure what you want to do just yet and people decide to ask you the dreaded question, flip it and say, “Well I know for sure that I DON’T want to do/be _______.”  They’ll be impressed and think you’re sitting in your dorm or apartment really thinking about and weighing your career options.

But if that doesn’t work, tell them that you’re really interested in a certain class and you want to see what careers you can relate to that.

If they’re still not satisfied, run. Clearly this person has been sent by the “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Gods and will not accept any response that doesn’t include a definite career plan.

If running away doesn’t work for whatever reason, find Neverland and go live with Peter Pan. They don’t have to grow up there. Lucky bastards.

Until next time…

 

 

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Untitled

Here are two examples of conversations I have when I tell someone that I go to Longwood.

Number 1:

Them: “Where do you go to school?”

Me: “Longwood”

Them: “Are you going to be a teacher?”

Number 2:

Them: “Where do you go to school?”

Me: “Longwood”

Them: “Where is that?”

Me: “Farmville.”

Them: “That’s a real place?!”

 

Yes people, Farmville is a real place. There are hardly (if any) farms at all, so there’s no need to ask if there is more cows than people here in this quaint little town. Longwood, while known for their teaching program, does offer other majors.

I’m often embarrassed to tell people that I’m a 5th-year senior. I often get that, “Oh. What classes did you fail?” face from people, so I try to avoid the situation entirely. The real story? Psychology consumed my life for the first three years here at Longwood.  I never saw myself being the “Tell me how you feel” kind of person, so I did a complete 180 and switched my major to Communication Studies. (Notice there is no “s” at the end of communication.) It was in this major that I was presented this opportunity (okay, more like told to do this for a grade) to write this blog. People often say “College is the best years of your life”, and whether you’ve been here for 1, 2, 3, 4, or yes, even 5 years, I think everyone can find some truth in that statement. This blog is going to offer up some often humorous tips/life lessons I’ve been fortunate enough to learn in my 5 (I’m starting to get less embarrassed now) years here at Longwood and how they can carry over into that real world we’re all trying to avoid.

 

Until next time…

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