I graduated from the University of Texas 2 years, 3 months ago. I was a good student—not great, but good. I was one helluva* student when it came to internships, writing papers, and group projects, though. I did my work, proofread every paper TWENTY times; I sometimes studied, and usually went to class. I even got a tutor when I needed one. (Thanks to my ex boyfriend, I made it through Statistics with a B! Take that Professor Gary Berg!) I graduated with a 3 point-something (I honestly don’t even remember, nor care), obtained my Bachelor of Science in Public Relations, and finished up that
useless business foundations certificate (which is essentially a minor, but the McCombs business school kids get real mad if you say that). PS if you’re a student at UT considering the business foundations program: In my humble experienced opinion, I found it to be mostly a waste of time. But I’ve gone my own way, so maybe some employers will eat it up. Maybe.
helluva*: In this case, I mostly mean absolutely obsessed to the point where my peers probably scoffed at me behind my back.
I know what you’re thinking, but you’re wrong. I wasn’t one of those Public Relations Student Society of America overachievers (PRSSA President 2013, I’m sure you rock—really, you guys are great!). I was a bit unconventional. I had 3ish internships and I only applied for a few through college. My first “real” internship was a pretty solid gig (I worked there, PAID, for over a year)—the others, I pretty much created on my own. Basically, I found something I wanted to do, and figured out a way to make it happen. I was interested in music and my major was Public Relations. “Hey, coolest band in Austin, can I be your PR intern, and help promote you guys? Here is a 3 page outline of what I’m going to do… for free.” This atypical approach led me to where I am now. As I was finishing up the last couple weeks of my college career, I was ears deep in a nationwide tour PR campaign. I then started Music Box Media, a music PR consultancy in Austin. DREAMS DO COME TRUE. Ha.
Music (and music PR) certainly isn’t all glam—or sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. Though it could be part sex, drugs and rock n’ roll if you’re around the right (I mean WRONG) kind of people. Really, I do mean wrong. Don’t do drugs and don’t shit where you eat. Two rules to live by.
Here are a few things that I learned through college. Some, the hard way.
1. Go out and drink (and/or party) while you can. Your body is young; you don’t have any real obligations (maybe you do, but it only gets worse). Don’t swim your life away in a pool of whiskey-induced vomit, but do go out and have fun, even if drinking isn’t your cup of tea. What I’m getting at is: stop taking yourself so seriously. Your older self (2 years later when your body is more fragile, and Netflix with no pants on is way fucking awesome) is telling your younger self to enjoy the bar/party scene while you can, because in a couple of years, you’d maybe rather slit your throat.
2. Go to house parties! Throw house parties! House parties are AWESOME, and you will miss them so much in post-grad life. It’s an easy way to play hostess and gather ALL your favorite people (and sometimes strangers) in one place without having to LEAVE YOUR OWN HOME. Now I live in a studio apartment with no roommates. Pretty sure I could only fit 4 people in my new place (so basically the people in the photo(s) below. Also, I don’t even know some of them).
3. Sleep. You can sleep when you’re old, when you die, and all that—but you can SLEEP NOW, TOO. God I love sleep. Plus, you’ve probably pulled some all-nighters and your poor body deserves it.
4. Network your tail off. Use Twitter for networking (follow awesome people who do cool stuff in your field of choice and amazing businesses / agencies / corporations). Create your own internships. Use organizations like PRSSA, the Student Events Center, or Undergraduate Business Council. Whatever it is you want to do—learn everything about it and talk to people who actually do it—and outside of a classroom setting. Any pencil skirt that walks into a meeting at PRSSA/Insert-Your-Major’s-Org-Here is going to tell you how hardcore they are (yuck) and how AMAZING PR/(whatever) is. PS they are kind of lying.
5. Make all the friends. It’s harder to meet people once you graduate. You may not keep all of your college friends, but you’ll absolutely make some amazing memories.
6. Skip class (occasionally). It’s MUCH easier than skipping work.
7. Study a little less and internship more. At least if you’re a Communications major. I don’t know nothin’ bout Engineer/Chemistry/Accounting majors, and how that works out for you guys.
8. Don’t stress TOO much about internships. There will be some chatty Cathy who has done 7 internships in 2 years, but she secretly hates herself.
9. Don’t sweat the small stuff. I’m an insanely anxious person, and I look back and realize how stressed out I was over REALLY insignificant things. Scale it. How terrible is this on a scale of 1-10? Most times, it’s under a 2. Don’t be so dramatic.
10. Work out. If you have a good workout regimen in college, you can cross your fingers that it’ll transfer to your post-grad life. Plus, do you know how much it sucks to pay for a gym membership? I mean, I don’t… but I can IMAGINE.
11. Enjoy your free shit while it lasts. Post-grad life has way less free swag.
12. Learn more than one trade. The economy still sucks. And you might get out and realize you hated your major anyway. Never give up on an opportunity to learn something.
13. Make friends with at least one awesome professor. It’s always nice to feel part of your university after you graduate. Sometimes staying in touch with a professor can really help, and they might be able to connect you to someone who knows someone that has a friend at that one company you’d kill to work for.
14. Change your major if you hate it. Try to do it early before you’re too invested/in debt. You’re two years in and actually HATE engineering? Don’t torture yourself, do what you find interesting.
15. Create a kick ass resumé. Stand out. Don’t be so disgustingly boring. I’m not talking pink, perfumed resumé paper, but go beyond the standard. Show your personality, don’t be afraid to add in that summer job that might have nothing to do with your degree, and highlight your skills. Keep it all to one page (and make sure you turn it into a PDF).
16. Explore your city. I don’t know what I’d do if I was forced to leave Austin after graduation. I didn’t have a car here for half of college, but even when I did, I still hardly experienced the city during the latter half of my co-ed years—aside from campus, west campus, north campus, south campus… oh, and a couple of bar districts. Your city might be awesome and you might really regret not exploring it if you get a job somewhere else.
17. Travel. If you can, study abroad. Take road trips, visit your second cousin in Louisiana, or France! Ask your advisor about study abroad programs. You’ll never look back and think, “Wow, I really just saw too much of the world.”
18. Plan a post-grad vacation. Start planning for it way in advance, 2 years if you have to. Save money, and make it happen. You worked your little booty off (your butt will probably get bigger once you graduate, too – I can vouch for this) and you deserve a vacation. Go to the beach! Go to Europe! Get out of here and treat yo self. Even if it’s just a long weekend away, take some time off to celebrate. If you can get away for 2 months—DO IT!
19. Actually read things. I don’t care if you get your news via Twitter—read, read and read.
20. Take a class, even if it’s just one class, that you really, REALLY like, and WANT to (not have to) take. You’ve only got ONE SHOT. And guess what, Modern Dance is actually really fun.
21. Join an organization. If you can’t find an organization you like, don’t give up! It took me 3 years to find an on-campus organization that I really loved and felt part of. My last year of college was amazing because of it.
22. Ask your parents for money if you can, while you still can. Damn all those textbooks.
23. Go to the doctor if you’re sick. That campus doc is free. Women: get your annual done through campus. You’re somehow paying for it in your tuition, so don’t skip out, especially if you’re feeling ill. Ain’t nobody got time for that—or the money for it, either.
24. Visit your friends at other colleges. Get a taste of their college experience. Invite your out-of-town friends to visit you, too! These will probably be some of your favorite weekends.
25. Take all the photos, but don’t post all the photos to Facebook. I’m sorry, there are just some things that should be left for your (and your closest friends’) memory. Like this:
*moments before vomiting up my pink Barbie birthday cake. I’m sorry, Barbie, for licking icing off your plastic bod. Sorry Mike, for using your toilet and painting the apartment pink.