S&J’s College Tips: Freshmen
This is the first of a 4-part series on what to expect and how to manage each year of college. Trust us, we went through it ourselves! Our names are Shir & Jamie and we recently graduated from the University of Florida with not only Bachelors degrees in Marketing, but also a heck of a lot of advice to share with all of you! Whether you’re a Freshmen, Sophomore, Junior, or Senior, you will learn more in your college years outside of the classroom than inside; you’ll understand more about yourself and that’s only the beginning!
What am I getting myself into?
We all follow the high school to college track because that’s what the world is telling us we have to do. And it’s great, believe us! But it’s nice to have a sense of what’s to come in the most life-changing years of your life These four years are where you discover yourself. Yeah, it sounds cliché but it’s true. You will find out what you like, what you don’t like, who you aspire to be, what path you want to avoid, and so much more. It’s crucial that throughout your four (plus or minus) years in college you self reflect. There is no one who knows you better than YOU. For the first time in your life, you are almost completely on your own; for some, fully. Although it’s just the beginning, you must understand that you are responsible for your own actions. Think about what it is you really want to achieve. What is your absolute dream? Chase it!
Where do I begin?
Educationally: Pick a major. Too obvious? Well, we’re not saying pick the career you see yourself in for the rest of your life. We’re saying pick a major that interests you. Pick something that you actually get excited to go to class for. Why spend four years of your time, energy, and money on studying something that you don’t like? Keep in mind that your major in undergrad isn’t as important as it may seem; what’s important is that you graduate. We all hear stories of those who change career paths several times until they land in a job that truly embodied their passion.
Socially: Join an organization. Many school have fairs displaying all of the different clubs and organizations available to its students. If you decide to go Greek like S&J, pay attention to the dates for signing up for Recruitment. For us, it was one of the best decisions of our college careers. No matter what it may be, put yourself out there, find your independence, and branch out to meet new people.
What classes should I be taking?
Whatever truly interests you. You don’t want to sit in boring classes for 13-18 hours a week; you’re spending too much money on each course and the over-priced textbooks to just sit in a classroom and daydream. Make the most out of your time and register for classes that you’re actually interested in.
What if I don’t like most of the courses required for my major, but I know it’s the right major for me?
Ah, the dilemma of most pre-med, engineering, and business students. Sometimes in life you just have to suck it up and make the most out of it. We were in the same boat; we both want to be businesswomen and knew that majoring in Business was what we needed to do to learn the ins and outs of that world. We suffered through Accounting, Finance, and many others but we found ways to make it worth it.
We majored in the most creative major available in the business school: Marketing. Also, we both decided to minor in a language (French & Spanish) and then study abroad (Paris & Madrid) to focus on more than just business throughout our time in college. Taking one language class a semester really broke up a week full of business courses.
Other things we did were to get really involved on campus to make life more interesting; sometimes you need that, especially when you’re landlocked in a small college town like Gainesville, Florida. Shir and Jamie both joined sororities, took on leadership positions, and ended up both becoming presidents of our respective chapters. The leadership skills we learned not only spiced up our resume, but helped shape us to who we are today and introduced us to unforgettable people and lifelong friends.
What organizations should I join?
Aside from greek life, we joined our respective religious organizations, fundraised for non-profits (shout out Dance Marathon at the University of Florida, pictured above!), and volunteered in the community. Keep yourself busy; it’s the best thing you can do for yourself!
How do I make friends?
By getting involved! We can’t stress enough how important it is to be involved on campus, in anything! It changes you as a person, fills up your resume/CV, and introduces you to people with similar interests.
Do I need to find an internship right away?
Don’t stress out about interning as a freshman. The summer after freshman year Shir went on Birthright (if you’re Jewish and want a free trip to Israel, highly recommend 10/10) and then spent the rest of the summer in Israel with friends and family.
But, if you’re like Jamie and another career path strikes your interest, this is the perfect summer to explore it. Jamie spent the summer interning for an Interior Design firm in Palm Beach, FL. This was when she knew she had a definite interest in a career in design and took the time to fully explore it.
If you have a specific profession in mind, then by all means apply for an internship and try it out. After her first summer interning for an Interior Design firm, Jamie knew that she wanted to pursue it post-grad and interned for an Interior Design firm every summer in college, aside from her summer abroad. Her internships confirmed her passion for art, architecture and design. Shir, on the other hand, didn’t have a clue, so the summer she studied abroad in Paris, she interned at a tourism startup doing business development; the following summer she worked in a fashion firm in NYC doing marketing and sales; and this past summer, she worked at an advertising agency doing public relations and account management. She was able try out different industries and roles to see what she did and didn’t like doing.
And your last, best tip for incoming freshmen?
ENJOY IT! Just like everyone says, make the most out of this year. This is the time for you to explore; your educational interests, friendships, relationships, and just learning about who you are. Sometimes our youth defines who we are for us, but this is the time to figure it out yourself! Truly embrace the relationships you form during these years, but don’t take yourself too seriously. Save that for grad school 😉