Deciding what you want to do for the rest of your life at the age of 18 is daunting. In high school I was the managing editor of the school newspaper who wanted to become a journalist shipped off to war-torn countries.
Then college happened.
There I learned I wanted to be more like Samantha Jones in “Sex and the City” — a glamorous, feisty #GirlBoss.
Now that I’m on the brink of graduating from Marquette University with a degree in public relations, I’m less certain than ever what my life’s calling will be. I’ve had some incredible experiences in college that I never could have imagined — visiting the Taj Mahal in India, joining a sorority, volunteering at a homeless shelter, and this semester interning at Branigan Communications, where I learned a lot about the B2B side of PR.
If I could turn back time and whisper in the ear of my 18-year-old self to make the transition to adulthood less intimidating, here’s what I would tell her about career choices, making mistakes and growing up.
Communication is key. The biggest lesson I’ve learned from my mistakes is that the problem could have been avoided by better communication. At Branigan, communication is essential to our work and part of daily life. Seeking more guidance about projects, talking to co-workers about the best way to handle situations — Branigan taught me it was OK to ask for help.
Don’t be predictable. College forces you to step outside your comfort zone and prepares you for life in the real world. I never thought I would be a regular volunteer at a homeless shelter or travel through India communicating mostly through hand gestures. The takeaway: Take advantage of the myriad opportunities on and off campus — you won’t regret it.
Figure it out as you go along. TV and movies depict young men and women having it all: a killer job, an apartment with a view, a significant other or a pet that he/she loves and cares for. But that isn’t reality. A study by AfterCollege, a job seeking website, shows that only 14 percent of graduates find a job right out of college. That means no awesome job and no apartment with a view — yet — but that is OK. No one is 100 percent prepared, but trying your best to find a job and life you love is what really matters. It is perfectly acceptable to not have it together — embrace it!
College, internships, the future in general — these are all scary things. No one is truly prepared for everything that will happen, but by working hard, communicating effectively and embracing the unknown, the next step — whether to college or a new career — isn’t as daunting as it seems.
— Katie Best, public relations intern