Caitlin Sunderland is a recent graduate from Shippensburg University with a degree in Communication/Journalism and a professional emphasis in Public Relations. She was highly involved on campus especially within Greek Life, being a member of Delta Zeta Sorority. The experiences she gained while being the PR chair for many organizations have helped to develop her skills and passion for the field. Caitlin hopes to one day merge her love of PR with the entertainment industry and land her dream career.
It’s hard focusing on your future when you’re busy trying to balance studies with your social life. It’s even harder when you’re really not even sure what you want to do upon graduation and are still trying to find your niche. Looking back, there many different things I could have done to better prepare myself for the real world and help get me on the right path to my career. Here are the top four things I would change if I could do college all over again.
I hope this helps in your decision making while at your university!
1). I would choose to double-major.
I never understood the point in double majoring or why it would be beneficial. Why should I go above the average expectations in school just so I could be given even more homework and papers? It makes much more sense to be paying to take a bunch of general education courses that would give me and A and boost my GPA, right? Wrong.
Of course having an above average GPA is a great thing. Some companies ask about grades when going through the hiring process, but the majority do not. (Of course, this may depend on major too.) In the long run, it’s your knowledge and experience that will make or break you. Double-majoring shows your commitment to school and desire to learn. Think about it: You’re the HR manager for a top marketing company. Would you rather hire the 4.0 marketing student, or the 3.4 student who majored in both marketing and business? Who would be able to help your business?
Double-majoring may not be for everyone, but if you declare early on, you can still graduate in four years. Maybe you’ll have to take 6 courses one semester, or a summer class here and there depending, but the amount of credits you take to graduate is the equivalent (or close) to the credits needed to double major. So why not?
2) I would use my own ideas.
As a communication/public relations major, I had a lot of papers to write and creative projects to get done, many at the same time. It was overwhelming, so once in a while I made the decision to reuse ideas I found online. How would the professor know anyway? As long as I get a good grade that’s all that matters.
In a copywriting class I was given the task of taking a product and recreating it to better suit college students. My group was struggling to come up with our own unique idea so I decided to use an idea we saw on television. Our professor loved our product and our presentation. We all passed the class with A’s and I was able to focus on what I saw as more important projects. I was never caught and I finished the course with an awesome grade. That’s all I wanted to accomplish.
This project had so much potential to really show me what it was like to plan my own rebranding campaign and how to copy write. I saw this project and course as a waste of my time, but it turns out that choosing to take the easy way out was the waste of my time. Now when I am interviewing and the HR manager asks me about my copywriting experience, I don’t have anything solid to show and be proud for.
And to go with that…..
3) I wouldn’t just choose the easy classes.
At the end of every semester when it was time to choose new classes, almost every single student can be heard asking their friends what easy classes they should take. While it’s fine to choose easier courses when you really just need a filler or for some other reason, try to choose courses that can either relate back to your major or some area of interest.
You can’t just think about the “now,” but more about how will the courses benefit you?
Plus, you may wind up finding that “easy” course to actually be very challenging. I took basic ceramics for two weeks until I decided I just couldn’t do it. I thought it was going to be so much fun and be more like a hobby class. Turned out it was a lot harder in college than high school! Because of this, I actually became behind on classes.
4) I would save (and organize) all my important work.
This is especially important for post-graduation. Make sure to save all your relatable documents and projects that you can use in your portfolio after graduation. Make sure that it is ORGANIZED! I recently had an interview and I was scrambling to find examples of my work. I thought I kept everything pretty neat in my computer folders, but turns out I had bits and pieces of projects saved and so many drafts of work that I would never want to show to a potential employer. Organize as you go!
Moral of the story:
Don’t chose the easy way out. I graduated college with good grades and a handful of great experiences which have helped me develop my skills. I’m very proud of what I have accomplished and I am so incredibly passionate about my field of study. There is so much more I could have done that may have set me up for even more opportunities, though. You can always do more, be more and achieve more. Don’t overwhelm yourself just to fill your resume of course, but the more you take advantage of college opportunities, the more marketable you will be to your future employers.