By Magdalena Guillen
Magdalena Guillen is a senior at California State University, Fullerton, pursuing her Bachelors degree in both Communications (with a concentration in journalism) and American Studies. She recently traveled to Vietnam, where she served on a specialized reporting mission through the university. Magdalena serves on the executive board of several organizations on campus, including: Society of Professional Journalists, Latino Journalists of CSUF and the Public Relations Student Society of America.
Learning Your Limitations
My head was pounding as I parked my car, I couldn’t shake off my headache. To make matters worse, I was trembling from nearly getting into a car accident on the freeway.
I had dozed off. And that wasn’t the first time that week.
I arrived to school sleep-deprived, dreading going to my morning class, wishing I could sleep in. Just four hours ago I had been up doing homework and finally hitting bed after a long day.
Four hours of sleep was an average night.
I had become consumed with school, work, and my extra-curricular activities. I wanted to be the super-star overachiever student who did everything. And I truly did want to be a part of everything. I was passionate about my majors, had an enormous amount of school pride, and wanted to make a difference.
But after four years, I was feeling burnt out. Now in my fifth year, I was overwhelmed by everything and everything seemed to catch up to me. I never had enough hours in the day to get all the things I needed to get done. Even with my organizational skills and extremely good time management, I often put sleep and my health on the backburner.
You know the infamous interview question, “What is your biggest weakness?” Well, I had finally learned mine. I did too much and I often times spread myself too thin.
Even my academic counselor at my university was telling me to slow down.
This semester, I took her advice. I started getting more hours of sleep, going to the gym, eating better and even taking a day off my retail job schedule. I also retired some of the activities I had been a part of. I stuck to a few and became fully invested in them.
There are moments where I panic because I feel like I am not “doing enough.” It’s my nature. I become so excited with what I want to achieve in life that I always feel the need to do something. I sometimes still overbook myself every once in a while because there’s so much I want to do.
But I’m learning that I don’t serve myself or anybody by spreading myself so thin. In order to achieve all those things, to reach all those goals I’ve set for the future, I must learn to take it one step at a time.
What is “networking?”
By this time you’ve probably heard of the term “networking.” And most likely, you’ve heard of the phrase, “It’s who you know that gets you there.”
To be precise, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines networking as: “the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically: the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.”
In other words, people are creating professional connections that can one day help them with an employment or business opportunity.
Now, let’s connect the term “networking” with the phrase, “It’s who you know that gets you there.”
Now it makes sense! But how exactly do you network?
You’ve probably already made several connections and you don’t even realize it! Internships are a great way to get started. Don’t be afraid to start the conversation! They are your boss and are there to help you.
Take advantage of that connection, be the best intern you can be and standout. Most professionals in return, help interns take that next step in their careers, give great recommendations, and can sometimes turn into a great mentor.
Last but not least, don’t forget to thank them for the opportunity and keep in touch with them after your internship ends. You never know when they have a job opportunity open!
Another great networking opportunity among your future colleagues and professionals are through student organizations. Take advantage of speaker events, panels, and mixers. Talk to students from your own and other schools and get to know your future colleagues. Don’t be shy to talk to speakers after the event and ask for a business card. Most of the time, professionals have a tie with the organization and prefer students of the specific organization for internships and job opportunities.
Also, keep in mind conferences and events from those organizations. It’s a large pool for students and professionals to give advice and connect with others. Don’t forget your business cards!
Don’t have the financial means to attend a conference or event? Contact the logistics coordinator and offer to volunteer. It’s a great way to see first-hand how these types of events work. It’s also a great way to talk to professionals and other students volunteering.
The ultimate goal is to create a genuine professional relationship that will last. Having their contact information is gold, so be wise with it. Don’t be afraid to set up a coffee or lunch meeting.
Informational interviews are also a great way to get to know the professional and learn more about their job. Send along your resume and ask to be considered for any internships or job opportunities in the future once you’ve established the professional relationship.
Even though it’s who you know, remember that it’s what you know that keeps you there. You may have the perfect connection to your dream job or internship, but your knowledge, dedication and hard-work is what’s going to keep you in that position.
Why it’s important to get involved
College is an exciting time to explore different outlets student life has to offer. From academic to social groups, take advantage of the organizations your campus has to offer and reap the benefits personally and academically.
Academic organizations are a great way to get a head start on your career while still attending college. These collegiate groups associated with your major usually have a network tie or a “parent” from a nationally or internationally recognized organization. This is a great way to network and meet professionals from your industry and gain insight to your field.
Another benefit from joining these types of associations is the resources they have to offer. Apart from networking, these collegiate chapters usually offer an internship and job posting center. Internships are a great way to gain real world experience and help build your resume. In some schools, internships are now a graduation requirement for your major and through these associations you can land an incredible internship opportunity.
Haven’t declared a major yet? No problem! This is the perfect opportunity to explore the many clubs your campus has and introduce you to an undiscovered passion. Sign up for a couple of groups and attend their first few events. Learn how these organizations can help you further your academic and future career.
Social and other:
College can seem overwhelming at times and making friends outside the classroom can be difficult. Joining a social organization or club can help ease that transition. Have a hobby or play a sport? There are clubs and intramural teams for almost any type of activity, and is also a fun way to meet other people who share your same interests.
Another alternative is joining the student governing body or considering rushing a sorority or fraternity. Both are great ways to get involved within your university and can help you gain an immediate social and professional network. With these organizations, you are presented with the opportunity to get involved in a wide range of activities and events (both academically and socially), and take on leadership positions.
Although if you are considering going Greek just for parties and social events, then Greek life may not be for you. These groups are designed to help students further themselves through networking, campus events and philanthropic opportunities.
Joining the student governing body is also a great way to not only serve your campus but have a say in college affairs. Voicing the student body’s opinion is a critical step in making your school a better place.
Overall, it’s important to join an activity on campus not only for your own pleasure but to further your career and expand you network. You never know where an opportunity may pop up. Whether it is an academic, social or student government group, it can be not only fun, but also great way to build your resume through leadership positions.