Like many others, my Biola undergraduate experience overflowed with all kinds of activities that fill the life of college students. I took 18 units, worked part-time and had an internship. I also participated in several clubs and took advantage of the on-campus media opportunities.
As a Journalism major with an emphasis in Public Relations, I spent time writing for the Chimes, creating audio for Biola Radio, participating in Eagle Vision, serving as a leader for the Biola Public Relations Student Society of America Chapter and even jumped in as the founding editor-in-chief for The Point magazine.
I lived life at 100 miles-an-hour and constantly was driven by the “what will I do after graduation” question. I wanted to be competitive and prepared for life after college. Public relations is a highly competitive field and I wanted to standout against the other job applicants.
Now that I have a lot more experience and background in the world of public relations under my belt, here are the three pieces of advice I wish someone would have shared with me – all, of course, with a chai latte!
#1 How you live today influences tomorrow
As an undergraduate, I told myself, “I only get to be at college once, so I need to make the most of it!” I, therefore, found myself juggling courses, extra curricular commitments, jobs and friendships.
While it true that college is a singularly unique experience, I wish I realized that “making the most of it” also should have included modeling a pattern of life that I planned to implement as a professional.
The PR world is fast-paced and very demanding. It’s important as a student to learn to say no to good things so you can fully lean into great things. Practice limiting commitments that pull away from your core values or aspirations. In short: develop a rhythm for your work/life habits that will sustain you for the rest of your career.
What you do today influences tomorrow. How you live in undergrad influences your choices as a professional.
It’s easy to think you’ll just be pulling all-nighters in college or you’ll learn to not procrastinate once you get “into the real world.” But the truth is, you’re building habits now by your pattern of living. Use your undergraduate experience to practice developing a lifestyle that allows you to thrive instead of depleting you.
#2 Budget everything - and I’m not just talking about money.
In undergrad, I was super on top of every penny I spent. But I did not pay attention to the other areas of my life as well. As a working professional, this is now something that I revisit on a regular basis because it helps me take inventory of my life and commitments.
For example, I budget my time. This is actually something I often recommend when students come talk to me about feeling burnt out. Here’s what I do: I sit down with an excel sheet and put down my 168 hours in a week. Then I start “deducting” everything that is crucial. I consider things like 7-8 hours of sleep, time to exercise and get meals, opportunities for hanging out with friends, intentional time to unplug, and, yes, things like work and class. This time budget is where I make sure I’m investing in things that matter to me – like reading a new book each month or taking up a new hobby.
When you calculate the places you’re prioritizing in life, it allows you to determine if you need to make some hard choices. This lets you be intentional with the choices of time instead of being reactive, which has the potential to minimize the time you spend with the most important things. Every choice to invest time limits other places you can invest.
It has been said that looking at someone’s checking account often reveals their highest values. I argue the same thing about looking at someone’s budgeting of time. Where we invest our time reveals our deepest values.
#3 Hold loosely to the idea of a dream job - at least right away.
I’ve always been the kind of person to have five year plans. But I wish I could tell my undergrad self that my “graduation” plan may not include my dream job. In fact, for me, it would not…at least not right away.
My dream job included things like getting to be involved in strategic leadership, managing big projects, and tackling complex issues. As an entry-level employee, that’s not something that’s very typical. You have to prove yourself first and get to know the team you join. Research shows that many recent college grads get discouraged by not landing that “dream job” right after college.
The truth is, however, if you persevere, have tenacity, and keep working – there is a high likelihood that you will get to that dream job. It just takes times. And, along the way, you may find your dream job changes. It may be refined to reflect more of the person you are becoming. It may include things you never considered, like going on to graduate school or moving to another country. Being open to refining the “dream job” idea while still pursuing excellence is a significant process.
I loved my college experience. I really did. But I also wish I had been a little more selective in the habits I formed regarding work/life rhythms, the choices I made in budgeting my times to reflect my highest values, and realistic in my understanding the perseverance it takes to truly land one’s “dream job.” Life at Biola is a wonderful season – soaking it up for all it has while also preparing for the next phase is a robust undertaking, but one that is well worth it!
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