senior

Don’t Regret Missed Opportunities

opportunities

“Don’t regret missed opportunities!”

The number of times I’ve heard some version of this phrase throughout my four years as an undergraduate is immeasurable. For a while, this phrase seemed about as cliche as any. I understood what it meant, but I didn’t quite understand the gravity of the saying until this past semester.

Four years seems like a long time, but as a college student, rarely is this free time. When you’re not in class, you’re studying for class. When you’re not busting your butt for school, you’re likely partitioning any remaining time for either sleep, social life, or extracurriculars. The opportunities to take a step back and reflect on what’s happening in the moment are sparse. College flies by and it’s often hard to see it passing by.

Nearing graduation, I felt upset with myself for not doing as much as I could. I felt I missed out on a lot of events! I never saw a Pittsburgh basketball game. There were interesting classes I wanted to take and groups I wanted to participate in. In the weeks leading up to my graduation, these small “regrets” ate at me. I’d never have the opportunity to do most of these things again. The pressing question I continually asked myself was “am I going to regret this when I’m older?”

After sorting through these nagging thoughts, I finally came up with a few answers. First, there’s no way I’ll be able to definitively answer this question for another 10 years. Second, as I was worrying about things I didn’t do, I forgot about all of the things I did do, and I did so much! I met so many friends who I’ll work to stay in touch with forever, I turned the city of Pittsburgh into a place I can call home, and I learned how to become the person I am today.

All of the things I did molded me. Does it matter if I didn’t make it to a Pitt basketball game? Maybe to some of my family members who love basketball and “don’t know why I went to a D1 school if I won’t even go to a game!” But to me, maybe not.

Now, as a graduate, I look back on my entire four years and think, Wow, it goes by so fast. Reflecting on what I did helps me not worry so much about missed opportunities. Yes, I probably could have taken better advantage of what Pitt had to offer, but kicking myself isn’t going to bring them back.

For all college students who feel similarly, I recommend you take some time and reminisce on all of the amazing, heartbreaking, stressful, inspiring, and enlightening moments you had the opportunity to experience. These years are going to fly by and they’re almost certainly going to shape you.

Don’t regret the missed opportunities. Rather, cherish the ones you had.

Considering Your Future Through Each Stage of College

Freshman Year:

 stage1

 This is your time to explore. Take a variety of general education classes and see if you discover a subject you never thought you’d have an interest in. Your freshman year is a great time to expand your horizons. It’s better to figure out what you really want to do sooner rather than later, so you have enough time to graduate on time if you make any changes to your plans. Sure, you might be coming in to college knowing what you want to do, but you never know. You could take a gen. ed. at the end of your junior year and realize your passions might lie elsewhere. Take advantage of the variety of courses available to you to make sure you know all of your options before you commit to anything.

Sophomore Year:

 stage

Continue exploring, but start narrowing it down. You’re usually expected to declare your major by the end of this year, so you should start to seriously consider your passions so you feel more comfortable committing to a particular field of study and/or career path by the end of your Sophomore spring semester. Figure out if you want to take on a double major or perhaps some minors and certificates. Do your research to see what the requirements are to make sure you have enough time to complete them so you can plan accordingly. Talk to your advisor throughout this process, he/she can be very helpful. This is also a good time to start thinking about the campus organizations that can be useful for your future career once you start to figure out what you want.

Junior Year:

 stage 3

You might be able to get away with waiting until the middle of this year to officially declare your major, but you should be paying close attention to the requirements of the major or majors you are considering. If you want to be able to graduate on time, this is crucial. This is a good time to start applying for internships if you haven’t already. Internships have basically become a necessity for college students hoping to get full time jobs after graduation. You should also be figuring out what your options are for after you graduate: Grad School? Medical School? Law School? Straight into your career? Take a year off to travel? Get a job teaching English abroad? You should look into all the options you’re interested in so you know what you have to do to make it happen. Look at the application process for different programs and/or jobs. Do all the research you can and there will be fewer surprises. You’ll be much more relaxed if you’re prepared.

Senior Year:

 stage 4

At this point, you should be pretty clear about your plan. There’s still some time to make decisions about your post-graduation plans, but don’t put things off for too long or you run the risk of delaying your progress. There are deadlines for a lot of your options and you don’t want to miss them or you might have to wait a year. Make sure you’re keeping up with your current academic requirements so keep in touch with your advisor so you stay on track. Make sure you do everything you need to do for graduation so it will be less stressful. Graduation can be an emotional time so minimizing your stress will make the whole process less overwhelming.

Advice for Every Year of College

It’s officially August! We all know what that means: classes will be starting before we know it. No matter what year of college you’re entering this fall, keep these little tokens of advice in mind.

 move-in

Freshmen: Welcome! I am so excited for you. Even if you loved high school, try not to hang on to it too much. Also, get to know your professors and advisors! They are only there to help and want to see you succeed. Finally, don’t be afraid to try new things. This is the best time!

 study abroad

Sophomores: So you’ve got a year under your belt and you’re not so new around campus anymore. Approach each opportunity with the same enthusiasm that you did as a freshman. Use this year to get a few internships under your belt or study abroad before you have to start taking your upper level classes.

 college-student

Juniors: The past two years flew by super fast and the next two will fly just as fast so don’t miss a minute of it. Classes are going to get harder this year and you’ll get incredibly sick of people asking you about grad school. Hang in there.

 college grads

Seniors: Is it senior year already?! Make sure you’re keeping your GPA up even though senioritis is surely kicking in. Make sure your resume is in tip top shape for the job search that is quickly approaching. Some companies will even hire you before you graduate. Wouldn’t it be nice to walk across the stage with a diploma and a job waiting for you?

 What advice would you pass on to incoming students? Share your advice in the comments below!

5 Important Skills to Learn Before You Graduate

There are some things you are definitely going to want to master before you finish college.  Finding a job after college is harder than ever and you want to be as prepared as possible.  You’ll likely start in an entry-level position and this list will prepare you for what lies ahead!

1. Photoshop

 photoshop

The world is becoming increasingly digital.  Any company you end up working for has a website and one or more social media accounts.  Photoshop is a great skill to have in your arsenal because it will likely come in handy for a great number of future projects.  Photoshop can help you create/adjust logos, flyers, newsletters, etc.  This is an excellent skill to have on a resume because potential employers will see it as a great asset!

2. Microsoft Office

microsoft office

This may seem obvious, but knowing all the ins and outs of Microsoft Office is essential.  Don’t just know how to use the basics of Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Outlook, know how to use every feature of each program.  You’ll likely be using Microsoft Office a lot in whatever job you have and you’re going to want to know everything you can; it’ll make your professional life much easier!

3. How to Use a Copy Machine Extensively

Copy Machine

When you’re first starting out in your professional life, the Copier is going to be a big part of your routine.  The last thing you want is to be the person that breaks the copier or needs help using it; to avoid this, take the time to learn how to use all of the features of one of the copy machines on campus—it may not be the exact machine you will have at your future job but it is a great start.  Also look over the machine to know how to fix it when it jams and how to change the toner!

4. How to Write a Professional Email

email

 This is extremely important.  In most jobs, you will be corresponding with many different people and you want to always make a good, professional impression.  Whether it is an email between you and a co-worker, you and your boss, or you and a client/affiliate of the company, you want to make sure you come across as intelligent, organized, and professional.  This is also an important skill when you are emailing with a potential employer about an interview!

5. Social Media

social media

Learn the ins and outs of several social media platforms.  Most companies several social media accounts, so having a lot of knowledge about Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, YouTube, etc. is really important.  Having these skills is also great for your resume.  If you notice that your company has yet to make an account for a social media platform that is or is becoming very popular, suggest that they make one and maybe even offer to create and run it for them.  This shows initiative and can lead to more opportunities and responsibilities!