4 Things I’ve Realized I Should Have Done In College (A Year Later)

Eric Ward

I graduated from a pretty awesome state school with a degree in English Literature and Linguistics. I love to joke with people that I got my degree because I really wanted to freak out my parents, but deep down I had a feeling of superiority, that I would be okay because I had a degree. I am smart and hardworking. I would get a job.

Yeah, well, 23 isn’t what I thought it would be because I wasn’t prepared.  So, let’s talk about why, so that when you’re in of school, you’ll be ready for when you get out.

1. Get An Internship (In The Major Nearest City)

During my years at college, I worked at the Tutoring Center.  I loved it, it was fun and I worked there for a little over two years, but I wasn’t an education major. In my four years at college, I worked only one internship that was run by a few of the professors at my college. I worked one thing that was directly applicable to what I wanted to do.  It was great and I learned a lot, but I did my internship my senior year and it was a small, independent publishing house.  I didn’t know this at the time, but I was putting myself a disadvantage.  I had waited too long to start my internship career and instead of finishing out an internship that could have landed me a job, I had one that gave me experience.  Now, I look back and realize that New York City was right there, full of major names looking for young college kids for their internships, all I needed was enough experience to back it and the ability to work for college credit.  But I didn’t.  That doesn’t mean things are impossible for me now, I can still do what I want, I can write and I am still working towards becoming an editor, but I made it harder on myself.

You need a brand name on your resume, something that shows a level of legitimacy to your education and experience.  It will make your life easier, and if it’s paid, there’s a better possibility you’ll have a job right out of college.

2. Learn to Network

Let me be clear, this is not making friends as the resident halls barbeque that last a lifetime.  This is making surface-level connections with people that will vouch you are not a crazy person and can open doors.  Have as many friends as you want on the weekends, but go to alumni networking events, rub elbows with people that know other people.  LinkedIn is great but those people actually have to know who you are to some degree. 

Networking is a skill, you will need to practice it before you jump to the endless pool of people vying for the same connections.  So, miss a math club meeting or a movie night, go to these events, smile, and meet people.  These people are the ones who will fix your resumes, edit your cover letters and make the road to a career a little less of a struggle.

3. Learn Coding

It’s the new typing and there is online resources that teach it for free.  There is no excuse not to learn coding anymore.  Being able to code makes you more marketable to companies because it means that they don’t have to pay another person.  Every company needs people who can write code.  Do you know what happens when companies realize that you are two workers for the price of one? They hire you.  Coding is rapidly becoming something you are expected to know and this is the time to get a leg up on everyone who isn’t paying attention to the world.

4. Get Ready to Fight

The world doesn’t give a crap about you.  The world will not coddle you and unless you give it a reason, the world won’t even notice you.  Make it.  Get ready to fight for whatever you want.  I fought my way to New York City and I’ve had to work jobs that don’t make me happy all the time so I can keep working towards my dreams.   If you can’t picture fighting your way to where you want to be, do you actually want it?

I have wanted to live in New York City, and I am, but this would have been a lot easier if I had been prepared.  You have so many opportunities and you don’t realize what has blown past you until you have spent a year learning about the gap between who you are and where you want to be. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

More From Thought Catalog