Our 22 Under 22 Most Inspiring College Women for 2015 are such inspiring, accomplished individuals. From volunteer firefighters to nonprofit founders to published authors and beyond, these collegiettes have found a way to take their talents and use them to make the world better.
We wanted to know what advice these 22 incredible women would have for other ambitious collegiettes with a goal or dream. When we asked them, they had these words of wisdom to share.
“Take risks. Do what you would not normally do and get out of your comfort zone. You will never regret failing… You will only regret the times you didn’t try or the chances you didn’t take. I attribute all of my success to bravery and courage to journey into uncharted territory. So take the road less traveled and forge your own path.”
“Find your sisters, and help each other as you are working towards your goal or dream. Without having support from the Harvard Women in Computer Science group on campus, I probably wouldn’t have had the courage to pursue advanced classes in Computer Science, or it would have taken me a much longer time to get here. I met some of my best friends in WiCS, and also some of the people I admire most in life: from the WiCS co-founders Anne Madoff and Amy Yin, to the person who first came with the idea of WECode JN Fang, to my good friends, almost sisters, homework buddies during the school year and co-workers during the summer Amna Hashmi and Lisa Wang, and to all other Harvard WiCS and WECode members, our group inspires me in many ways since I am surrounded by people who are not only brilliant, determined and hard-working, but also sweet and committed to help each other along the way.”
“Having a dream is only the start. My advice for these collegiettes is to work hard toward their goals, know that a little flexibility goes a long way, and that when things don’t go your way, there’s a lesson to be learned. Also, learn how to assemble a team you can trust, for you will need to rely on others to accomplish your wonderful goals.”
“Never assume. Maintain a childlike curiosity, idealism, and drive. Individuals don’t drive change — teams do. Embrace criticism and don’t take things too personally. Maintain an inner circle of support. Create compelling spectacles. Live for and act on behalf of lives beyond your own. Never be late!”
“First, never give up on your dreams! Write down what you hope to accomplish and do something every day that gets you closer to that goal. Second, work hard but also take time for yourself and make sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating healthy, exercising, and not being stressed. Third, volunteer and take every opportunity to help others because we are all here for a greater purpose. Last but certainly not least, surround yourself with friends and family who encourage and support you.”
“APPLY! Just apply to millions and millions of things. Every contest essay you write, makes you a better writer, every cover letter, helps you learn how to sell yourself, every summit you visit helps you learn how to network yourself. The every experience you do get accepted for helps you find your niche in the world to help others. For Her Campus’s 22 under 22 contest I was nominated by a woman who worked for a different company that denied me for something that’s criteria I didn’t exactly meet. So that “no” from her company resulted in a “yes” at Her Campus. You never know who will see your resumes and who will be impressed by you. And yes, sometimes it’s disheartening to have an email full of “nos” but I promise you that one yes will make it all worth it.”
“Never, ever, ever, ever give up. You will not get everything you want. You will apply for an internship and not get it. You will apply for a job and not get it. Keep trying, because if you are persistent and put your mind to it, the work you put in will pay off.”
“Love what you do and do what you love. To that effect, never let anyone or anything stop you from pursuing your goals/dreams. If you are passionate about and truly love what you are pursuing, let nothing stop you. The path to this goal will of course require sacrifices, determination and resiliency. In the toughest moments, I think it is always therefore important to put everything into perspective; save time for personal reflections and take time to remind yourself of your long term goal and motivations. As an equally important point, your health and well-being should also always be a number one priority. You should always feel comfortable to reach out to others for support, assistance, and advice. There is no reason to feel that you have to reach your goal/dream alone!”
“I’m a big fan of setting concrete sign-posts for the future, but not laying out each and every nitty gritty step. I think that having a vision for what you’d like to achieve, while allowing for flexibility to arrive at that goal through a number of different routes, is incredibly important to achieving one’s ambitions. That and having laser-focus.”
Stop worrying about being perfect and just do it. The hardest part of doing anything is just starting because it’s so easy to bog yourself down with reasons why you will fail or worrying someone else is better than you. I almost didn’t apply for the grant to go to India because I knew a lot of masters and PhD students were also applying, and I didn’t think I would get it as a second year Bachelor’s student. But I went for it anyways, and ended up receiving the fellowship. The only way you will truly fail is if you don’t try.
“Don’t ever doubt yourself. Don’t ever think you’re too black or too white, too rich or too poor, to achieve your goal or dream. You will only sell yourself short… In all, don’t worry about the end result. Just follow your heart, as everything that is suppose to work out will.”
“My biggest piece of advice is this: don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. It is easy to allow insecurities about age/experience level to prevent you from making a big demand, or asking for a meeting with an influential person, or even admitting that you need help. However, if you don’t at least pose the question, it will probably never happen. So go for it! You might be surprised at what can happen if you just ask.”
“For anyone out there with a dream, I would say the single most important thing to achieve that dream is hard work – there is absolutely no replacement. All the goals that I have been able to accomplish came from many sleepless nights and an unwavering dedication to achieve my goals.”
“The best advice I could give is that the only person holding you back is yourself and now is the time to take a goal and run with it. This is a time in your life where making mistakes and finding your own path is encouraged. Embarrassing yourself, failing (more than once), and having a few miscalculations now is only going to help in the future. You will find that you are resilient and once you set your mind on a goal you have, you will most definitely find a way to get there.”
“Never give up. Life will throw some pretty terrible things at you, but also some incredibly wonderful things. Keep pushing forward towards what makes you happy.”
“Sometimes I’m reluctant to share my goals with other people because they seem so far out of reach, but I encourage everyone with a goal to be super vocal about it. I’ve made so many connections with people that I didn’t expect would be able to help me along the way just because I’m not shy about my goals. And, those connections you make can end up being very beneficial.”
“Be flexible. Goals and dreams aren’t set in stone. They are guidance tools. The more flexible you are with yourself the less likely you are to have “goals” or “dreams” break you. Be unmessable with. You have and set those goals and dreams, those goals and dreams don’t have or set you.”
“Take risks and be open to new opportunities and interests. Things are bound to go wrong, but your perspective is what makes the difference. Don’t let your failures discourage you, but instead use them as motivators to push you farther. While you’re working hard towards your goals, it is also important to take care of yourself in terms of eating well, sleeping and scheduling in relaxation time. I’ve learned that only when you feel well can you do good for others.”
“Don’t apologize for chasing your ambitious goals and dreams because your passion will take you far. Be unapologetic, stand firm on your values, and never compromise yourself because you can defy expectations and challenge the status quo! If you know what you want, then go for it!”
“Be honest with your heart and your gut. Say whatever you want to other people, you can say you’re going to law school if that’s what keeps your aunt from bugging you, but it’s the most challenging and most rewarding to be honest with yourself about what you want. Even if that doesn’t solve much else right away, it takes a weight off your chest. Recently I’ve admitted to myself that I miss filmmaking, a scary thought since I forewent that major a long time ago, and now I’m just figuring out what to do with that information. Whatever you love, I am positive you can do something with it. Your major is not irrelevant, your passion is not irrelevant; there are ways, when you give in to your heart even a little and combine that love with rational planning, to create something unstoppable. I’m a big believer in love.”
“As a senior, I think it’s always tough to provide advice on an experience you haven’t actually even finished yet. I think the best piece of advice I can give to anyone with a dream is to never be afraid to share your dreams and talk about what you wish to create and see in the world. I think as collegiettes, it’s often hard to share those pipedreams at the risk that they might not work out, but you never know who has the collaborations, networks, and visions to make your dreams a reality. So be careful and vigilant and protect yourself intelligently of course, but never be afraid to ask for help.
“Don’t let your failures or problems define you. If you don’t believe in yourself, who will? I’ve let myself get run down about failures and what I think others with think of me because of them, but I realized the only one thinking worse of me because of them is myself.”