10 Things I Learned in College

Posted by Charlotte Robertson on Thursday, February 22, 2018

by Christina Rucinski, '18

As my four years at Ithaca College are quickly disappearing, I am reminded of all the advice alumni, industry professionals and professors have told me. Here are 10 important things I’ve learned throughout my time at IC.

1. Live boldly.

Be the best version of yourself. Take chances and make mistakes. In college, I felt an immense amount of pressure to be the best at everything. This was such a false mindset though. I was not the best runner on my team and I didn't have the best grades in my scholarship program, but that is okay. My worth did not decrease because I wasn’t the best. I was still a decent, kind human being and excelled at other skills. I also took a lot of opportunities to be spontaneous and travel.

2. Number are just numbers.

Grades matter, but so do a lot of other aspects of your life. Do not spend all of your weekends hiding out with your head in your books. Take time to enjoy your college experience. There will rarely be another chance to live with your best friends and only worry about school. Your GPA will not determine if you get a job or not. Be a more interesting person than just having a 4.0. If you can keep all A’s throughout college, good for you! But do not do it at the expense of your sanity or experiencing new things.

3. Your network is your net worth.

It is all about who you know, not what you know. Professors, classmates, and mentors will continue to hammer this idea in your head because it’s true. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is the best it can be. It’s your life story to outside professionals. Talk to everyone you can, especially alumni and classmates. These people could be your future boss. They could be the one who gives you your first job. So, be kind. Be humble. Treat everyone with respect. The person you pull down could be the person to pull you up later in life.

4. Learn humility.

Yes, you may have had wonderful internships or parents in the industry you’re entering. However, when you enter the workforce, you are entering at an entry-level position. Do not go into a new job thinking you know everything. You have experience and knowledge to bring to the table, but do not dump it on your colleagues. Other people may have the same amount, if not more, experience than you do. Know when to speak up and know when to observe and learn from others.

5. Stay hustling.

Hustle is what gives you an edge up and puts you ahead of the crowd. There will always be days you don’t want to go into your job or class or meeting. However, be mindful of how people around you perceive your body language, actions, and words. Stay positive and keep grinding. As Annie says, “the sun will come out tomorrow.”

6. Do NOT stress about finding a job or internship.

No one has everything figured out. The person in class with the best grade doesn’t even have his or her life figured out. The fun part about life is stumbling upon experiences and opportunities you never thought you would get. Trust that your time at Ithaca College and the Park School has prepared you.

I’ve been presented with incredible opportunities through the strategic communications department and have connected with some of the top industry professionals in advertising because of this. I know parents want you to find a job as soon as possible and can create a lot of pressure. However, remember that most companies aren’t hiring until late March or April for May graduates. It’s okay if you get to spring break and still don’t have a job lined up.

Also, do not be afraid to take an internship after graduation. Most places want to hire their interns at the end of the summer. An internship also allows you to test an environment before being committed to a company for over a year. Do not think of it as a step backwards. Think of an internship post-graduation as an opportunity to network and prove yourself.

7. Confidence over comparison.

You cannot compare your behind-the-scenes life to someone else’s highlight reel. Stop looking at social media, seeing the best parts of everyone’s lives through a filter, and thinking your life isn’t amazing as well. This is something that I learned my senior year. I try to stay off of social media throughout the week to just focus on myself and my goals.

8. Learn to speak and write.

These two skills are extremely important in any part of your life. Your great ideas cannot be understood if you cannot articulate them. Try taking a course in public speaking or theatre. Push yourself to come out of your safe shell. My freshman year, I took a class on social activism in the theater. I wrote a script around the lack of diversity on Ithaca College’s campus and performed in front of my peers. Any job recruiter is going to want to see that you have experience presenting and writing.

9. Traveling brings new perspective.

The best part of my college experience was studying abroad in Auckland, New Zealand. The worst part of my college experience was studying “abroad” in New York City. I learned so much about who I am while I was out in the world living and working. I encourage as many people as possible to study abroad and explore the world because college will not be your whole life. Meeting new people from various cultures and backgrounds was one of my favorite parts of studying abroad in New Zealand. I met two women who had quit their jobs as lawyer and decided to motorbike through Indonesia. They also climbed Mount Everest Basecamp -- no big deal. Traveling will help you later in life to bring a diverse perspective into the workplace.

10. Stop apologizing.

You and your ideas matter. Never start a sentence by devaluing your idea before it’s even shared. Ladies, stop apologizing for having ideas. You have good ideas, so share them. Never start your sentences with “This may be a stupid idea but…” You have value. Don’t forget it. Men, be advocates in your industries for the women in the room whose voices are lost. It is your job to make sure women get the credit they deserve for their ideas.