It comes faster than you think. Yes, I am speaking about graduation. It’s the day some of us cannot wait for and the day some of us dread. It’s the culmination of these past years: the laughter, tears, group projects, and long nights. These years can be so transformative and help foster growth in so many areas of our lives. Some of us have changed our majors while others have gained new passions.
My journey at The University of Georgia has come to an end, but I’ve decided to share some important lessons I’ve learned in The Classic City.
- Commit to what you can manage.
I was always doing too much and some semesters it seemed to really take a toll on my energy as a whole. It is so easy to get pulled into a new organization, club, or extracurricular activity. Get a feel for your personal capacity and learn when to take a step back, if needed.
- Learn to Say No.
This goes along with the first piece of advice. ‘No’ is a word that people often have trouble saying. It is relevant not just in your personal lives, but your professional lives as well. Are you growing from it? Are you getting out of it what you expected? Ask yourself these important questions.
- Learn how to converse with people of all ages.
I cannot emphasize the importance of this skill. Learning how to carry on a conversation with others including people older than you is an essential skill for success at any stage of life. Stop by your professors office hours, or speak to them after class about a part of their lecture you liked. Connect with coworkers and managers and ask for professional advice.
- Get to Know UGA faculty and staff members.
My experience at UGA would have been completely different if not for the amazing faculty and staff members of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. Becoming a Grady College Ambassador allowed me to build meaningful relationships with faculty and staff. This also helped make this big institution seem a little bit smaller. I didn’t simply pass through Grady. I became apart of it. Keep in mind that many colleges have ambassador programs. Find out if yours does and get involved. P.S. You're also more likely to get a letter of recommendation from professors or staff members that are familiar with you!
- Friends come and they also go.
You will meet many people and at times some of them will seem like your very best friends. Things happen in life that may disrupt some of these relationships. Just know that it is okay. Some people are only meant to be in your life for a season. One big takeaway is that we can learn something from all the people we meet.
- Take a class that pushes you outside of your comfort zone.
For me, this was my tap dancing class. Let me make this clear, I AM NOT A DANCER. I was often a step behind everyone else and it would take me a little longer to pick up on things. I was challenged in ways I’ve never been before like choreographing my final and performing the solo in front of the class! Although it was terrifying, it was also an extremely rewarding experience. I got to try something new and I’m better for it.
- Get an on campus job.
Getting a job is good for many reasons. On campus jobs in particular are often flexible, you get a little pocket change, and you learn time management. I had the pleasure of working at the Career Center, but many departments on campus are always hiring. Check out the Career Center’s job board, Handshake to find your next on- or off-campus part-time, full-time job or internship.
- Say ‘thank you’ more often.
Express gratitude to the people around you. There is not one person who hasn’t been impacted by another. Show it and share it. The world will thank you for it.
- Keep an open mind.
Open your heart to different people and different experiences. You will grow and learn to love yourself and others more. While there are lots of opportunities on campus to help open your mind, you might consider attending International Coffee Hour or a Black Theatrical Ensemble performance to start out!
- Fake it until you become it.
This is a little spin on the saying ‘fake it until you make it.’ It’s from one of my favorite Ted Talks of all time. Become your most successful self. Power pose and feign confidence until you becomes apart of you. You can watch the Ted Talk here.
- Open yourself to feedback.
Intentional and thoughtful feedback is foundational for our growth and development as human beings. If there is anyway you can improve and someone is willing to help you, take it.
- Take advantage of UGA resources.
There are countless resources that are available to you as a UGA student. From free Lynda.com tutorials to free weekly movies in the Tate Student Center. There is always some kind of perk available for students.
- Study abroad.
Some of life’s best lessons can only be learned from discovering a new place and its people. I had the pleasure of participating in Grady’s Travel Journalism program in Prague, Czech Republic. I visited beautiful sites, ate great food and learned about another culture outside of my own. It was the best time of my life and I grew so much by the end of the experience. Additionally, this is a great resume booster and potential employers love hearing about your experiences!
- Get involved at the University.
One of the greatest thing about UGA is the countless clubs and organizations you can join. I guarantee you there is something here for EVERYONE here. You just have to find it. Visit the UGA Involvement Network website to search for clubs relating to your interests. Also check out the Activities Fair held at the beginning of each fall and spring semester. This is a great opportunity to browse all of your options.
- Get involved outside of the University.
Athens is a beautiful city with a bustling arts, music, and foodie scene. There are so many opportunities to volunteer here as well. I’ve personally been apart of My Athens as an Events Coordinator and Style Newsletter Editor this past year. It would be an absolute shame to not experience aspects of Athens life outside of the UGA world.
- Go to the Career Center.
The Career Center staff is so friendly and can help you in all of your career and professional needs. Not to mention, there is a career consultant for every single student at UGA! From exploring majors to resume critiques to mock interviews there is someone to assist you for all your major and career related needs. My biggest advice? Don’t wait until your junior or senior year to visit!
- Stop comparing yourself to others.
Everybody is operating on their own personal timelines. We all have different dreams, goals, and ambitions that drive us to lead very different lives. What’s good for one person could be bad for you. The sooner you stop focusing on someone else’s life the sooner you can lead your best life.