Author: Kelly Craig

Big Girl Pants: Not Taking On Too Much

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Club fairs, internship offers, classes and part-time jobs are all beginning.

It’s easy to sign your name to a bunch of club newsletter lists, but eventually, you’ll have to make some choices as to what you want to follow through on and which you don’t.

I am a perfect example of taking on too much. I always knew I didn’t want to regret not doing something. I played collegiate field hockey, pledged a sorority, worked at the study abroad office, actually studied abroad, lived in a sustainable living facility and kept up with multiple internships and part-time jobs.

Looking back, there is nothing I wish I did, aside from maybe relaxing a bit more.

Half way through your college experience, you might feel as though your responsibilities and commitments are gobbling you up. I am not condoning running from responsibility, but one way I started over was through the National Student Exchange. I realized I had a lot of commitments and I no longer was too happy. I realized as a 20 year old, I didn’t need that much stress.

I made some phone calls and prepared a trip with the National Student Exchange. I figured out that a school 3,000 miles away had the courses I needed and was cheaper for me to go to. I got to relive some study abroad moments (packing for four months in two bags, meeting new people from all over the world, exploring a new area). I am a proud alumna of all of the organizations I was apart of while at my home school back in New Jersey. Now, when I have a few hours in between classes and internship work, I get to explore California with new friends. I scheduled courses into my schedule that make sense to my academic career that I wouldn’t be able to have done otherwise.

If half way through your college years, you feel as though your life is more stressful than you can manage, go over to your school’s study abroad office and check out if they participate in the National Student Exchange.

If you don’t have this as an option or traveling isn’t for you, be honest with yourself and with others about how much you can take on. Exploit your opportunities; go out there and do stuff; but be sure to take some time for yourself too.

Big Girl Pants: Taking School Seriously Without Taking Yourself Too Seriously

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Especially once senior year hits, we end up holding more and more responsibility. It is important to take these responsibilities seriously, doing your homework, staying present in class (literally and figuratively) and overall staying on top of your game.

Along with this, networking, interning and applying for jobs are all on the horizon.

It is easy to get wrapped up in all of this work. You know how girls and boys end up having social lives that are all consuming? Remember petty high school drama? I’m sure you do, as it will be around you for the rest of your life, in college and in the workplace. Getting too wrapped up in work is just as bad.

Senior year in college is a crucial time in your life as the decisions you make will shape your future. If you research and apply for jobs and prepare for graduation, you will be in a much different place the day after graduation than someone who doesn’t.

There’s one big factor to remember though. You are young. This will be the only time in your life where going to crazy themed parties is acceptable. This will be the only time you are able to pull and all-nighter and still be a functional member of society the next day. This will be the only time you are able to wake up and wear yoga pants on a day you have work to do.

Savor it.

Remember you need to get work done, but savor and exploit the times you do not.

The best way I’ve found to do this is to take a fun class, save an hour or so right after class to go to the library and get homework done so everything’s out of the way and be sure to get an eight-hour sleep. Eat right. Take care of yourself. Make a time to prepare for after graduation. Make time to go out on adventures with your friends.

It might take some tea, some coffee and a legal drink, but you can get all your bases covered. I promise. If you are determined and persistent and manage your time right, you can do it all.

Big Girl Pants: Humble Hero Intern

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There’s a time to show off what you’ve got. There’s a time to admit your nervousness. There’s a time to accept responsibility for your action, even when you crossed a line you didn’t know was there. There’s a time to ask for help.

There’s a time to put on your big girl pants the morning after a rough day and do it all over again.

Some quick tips to remember while interning:

You can’t expect to know everything and be perfect the first day.

Mistakes help you learn.

Sometimes when you’re not confident, fake it.

Don’t fail to communicate.

For those who like specific examples, I have been juggling a couple writing jobs, one of which I land some pretty big interviews. It can be incredibly intimidating when you land an interview before you really know what direction you want to take the piece. It can be very scary. Working in forms you’ve never done before, starting something new and/or being thrown into situations you never thought you would is how you grow.

Don’t be scared. You will make mistakes. Show your boss or supervisor how you handle the mistakes you make with grace and professionalism.

If you’re still feeling nervous, learn to intern from Snoop Dogg (he wasn’t Snoop Lion yet).

Big Girl Rants: Why can’t there be a BYE in college classes?

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Although some school policy forbids professors to mark a student down for attendance, some of those professors have found a loophole in requiring in-class participation and smaller classwork assignments. Other schools, mainly small ones, let professors keep attendance as a percentage of the student’s overall grade.

I am all for going to class and doing what I have to do to get this degree, but at some point, it seems like college is holding people back. Throughout my academic career, I have taken courses at Ramapo College, Florence University of the Arts and California State University of Monterey Bay. As I graduate from Ramapo, I ensure my courses relate to courses I would have taken there, but I seem to be repeating a lot of material.

A prime example is taking a course this semester that is a student newspaper workshop course. I am all for working on the student newspaper, interviewing faculty and writing up articles, because no matter how much writing experience you have, you can always have more and writing for different platforms, for different audiences is something I have made it a point to expand. The problem is the lectures. I understand if a student has no journalism experience they need some explanation, but if I understand the material and continue to make deadline, why can’t I leave?

I mean don’t get me wrong, I don’t think of myself as high and mighty and I’ll reiterate the fact that I enjoy working on the paper, but why can’t college classes have a BYE just like sports?

We had to take AP tests to have our high school AP classes count for college credit. Why can’t that logic follow into college? Shouldn’t we be able to take a test before the course or do the classwork and pass the midterm and final for a grade? It gets frustrating to know that I am taking four hours out of my week on top of the time spent writing the articles to listen to a lecture I have heard before. Instead, I could be working on my other internships.

Anyone else feel like this? Sometimes getting to the end of a degree, you realize more and more how ready you are for the next step, a step into your Big Girl Pants.

Big Girl Pants: Out of the Box Internships

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When someone’s typing on a laptop, what do you imagine they’re on? Facebook? Tumblr? Twitter? Pinterest?

Although that is the majority, some college students are actually at work, and I don’t just mean typing up a paper or researching for class work. Virtual internships are a thing of the present, and although online colleges seem a bit sketchy, online internships can yield some real resume building experience.

Personally, out of the seven publications I have written for, only two were honest to goodness in-person jobs, and only one was in a typical 9-5 format (although it was really 9-6pm with a half hour lunch break).

Although working in your pajamas seems like a dream come true, and sometimes is, getting dressed and going out in public to work can make a great difference to your motivation and quality of work. I’m not going to lie though, making deadline in my workout clothes while on the deck at my grandmother’s house with iced tea and cookies in hand is a dream come true…

As a journalism major, gaining writing experience online is an option. Education majors might not find as much luck gaining virtual internships, but knowing how to find internships online is key.

Check out the Top 10 Internship Ready Majors provided by Internships.com.

Speaking of that site, five out of the seven writing opportunities I have had were from internships.com. The steps to finding an internship are easy. Make a profile. Upload your resume. Copy and paste your cover letter. Search and apply. Just be sure to tweak your CV for employers aka customize it with their company name and highlight one specific reason why you think you’re cut out for their position. Then it’s all a waiting game.

Gaining experience can be nerve racking, but the more things you apply to, the better your chances of hearing back. Don’t leave any pebble unturned.

One thing I realized the hard way is to be sure to research or read up about the company before applying and accepting.  I knew a bit of what I was getting into with one job I had, but I quickly realized it was not for me. This situation can be prevented if you do your research beforehand.

There are tons of quality websites to find internships and entry-level jobs that are major specific. As a soon-to-be college graduate, I’m reluctant to sharing all of the websites I use as a journalism major (since the field is so tough right now), but as soon as I nail something down for myself I’ll share some specifics!

Good luck and happy hunting.