Advice to college students

Toni Garza is an elementary general music teacher in the Metro Nashville Public Schools. She teaches grades K-4 in the urban East Nashville area. As a Berklee College of Music graduate, Toni spent many years in Boston teaching and volunteering with children around the city. This led to her accepting a job in the Boston Public Schools upon graduation to teach middle school chorus.

Garza was born and raised in Texas where she developed a love for music. While she considers herself a singer foremost, she also plays the piano and was a dancer for many years. She tries to incorporate all of these aspects into her classroom to give her students a well- rounded musical education.

While she has had experience with many age groups, Toni focused on early childhood music within her music education major and also received a minor in psychology. She advocates for children to be exposed to all types of musical experiences as early as possible.

As a college student, it is very easy to get a job at your local fast food restaurant or department store but what does that really do for your resume? Many soon-to-be or recent graduates can’t seem to fill up a page with career related positions. Their job hunt becomes more difficult because of their lack of real world experience.
My advice, as someone who worked in the internship office of Berklee College of Music, is to volunteer and intern as much as possible while still in school. This most often means working for free. I know that doesn’t sound appealing but it will pay off in the end. Employers value experience and most internships compensate with college credits. Take advantage of your ability to intern as a student while you still can. Waiting until after graduation to look for an internship is not going to be beneficial or easy. Should the stars align, you will be able to find a paid internship while still in school. However, those opportunities are few and far between.
In addition to finding an internship that pays, you’ll also want to try and find an internship that relates to your major. Unfortunately, that may not always be possible. I have found that a well-rounded and multi-facetted candidate gets the interview and ultimately the job. Volunteer at your local animal shelter even though your major is international business. Help out with a summer program at the Boys and Girls club even though you’re pre-law. Employers want versatile employees that show they can work in all types of environments.
Once you have this experience under your belt, you have a resume that differs from your peers. Every graduate entering the workforce is going to list their college GPA, related courses and part-time job on their resume. Listing things like after-school tutor or volunteer with Meals on Wheels sets you a part and makes you a more desirable candidate. When you start thinking about which opportunities will be most valuable on your resume, make sure there is a balance. If you’re a part of a club at your university that is involved with charity work then you may want to look into a work related internship. If you’ve had several internships then consider contributing some volunteer hours.
I am in no way saying that volunteering your time is a cost effective way to spend your college hours, but if you can give a few hours a week to a cause, it will benefit you in the end. This is also a great time to network with people in the community. I cannot tell you how many times I have run into people I met at community or charity events that led to job prospects. People trust people they recognize so make yourself known in the community.
As a teacher, it was a little easier for me to find volunteer opportunities that related to my chosen field. However, education is a great place to find volunteer opportunities no matter what your major is. All professions will recognize and hopefully respect experience working with children. I always say that if you can work with children, than you can work with adults in any setting. Your resume is your first impression to a future employer. Showcase as many of your talents as possible.


advice to college students 

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