Kailey Hansen is a graduating English writing major at Elmhurst College and currently entertainment editor for the student paper. She has spent the year as a social media intern, creating web content for social platforms. After graduation she will pursue more publishing experience and a master’s degree in Journalism
If there is one thing that I could go back and tell that painstakingly shy and transitionally-challenged college freshman that I was four years ago, it would be to waste no time in breaking free from my comfort zone and get involved.
Total mom advice, right?
It turns out the cliché has some backbone. As I spruce up my resume, fumble through job applications, and order my cap and gown, I know that getting involved saved me from what could’ve been an even more jolting-than-normal shove into the real world.
Early on in my pursuit of an English writing degree, it became quite clear to me that a loaded resume and stacked writing sample portfolio were the Holy Grail of my first job out of college. I wasn’t going to teach—I’m one of those brave souls breaking into the writing/editing/copyediting world—and a piece of paper that said I had a B.A. in English was nothing more than just that….a piece of paper that said I had a B.A. in English.
I’m a firm believer that liberal arts majors aren’t necessarily doomed (there are plenty of jobs out there, you just have to keep an open mind. You may not get your dream job at first!) but networking and internships are the heart of nabbing that first gig.
And at the heart of networking and internship experience is a resume.
That’s any experience pertaining to your major. Sure, we’ve all worked that brutal retail job and served fries at McDonalds, but the business world, publishing industries, and pretty much every corporate position is looking for a little (or a lot) more than that.
They want to see that you’re going to bring something to their company and that you have more than just a degree in doing whatever it is that you’re going to do. They might assume that you have the skills but want to see them put into action. My English degree doesn’t make me a writer or an editor. My hodge-podge of experiences outside of the classroom? That’s what makes it.
My experience as an entertainment editor for the student paper, my job as a writing tutor, two internships; these are things that employers care about and want to see. Not only that but I can safely say that I gained more hands-on knowledge for ‘real world situations’ in all of these things more than I did the classroom.
While being in the classroom is obviously the bulk of earning your college degree (yes, you still should show up to class), it’s insanely important to get involved with organizations that link to what you want to do. It’s a great way to get experience, snatch a solid resume booster, and find friends who have similar interests.
It’s all too easy for an introvert to skate through freshman year only attending classes. However, the ultimate college experience is one complete with lifelong relationships, amazing opportunities, and the journey of finding yourself.
All of these things can easily be done if you step out of your comfort zone and take on that extra experience.