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Advice to Freshmen: GET INVOLVED!

I was decidedly uninvolved in high school. I let my peers handle the student government rigamarole and sports teams that the school so often rallied behind. I was completely content as a bystander in my high school environment, occasionally participating in a dance show or showing up to an event or two to support my friends. Maybe this was because my school was very small, so I always felt included and involved, or maybe this was because I was content with the basics: homework, hanging out with my friends, and family. Either way, things completely changed when I got to college.

As a baby first-year student joining a community of over 30,000 people, I was intimidated to say the least. I felt like a tiny puzzle piece that didn’t quite have a place. Joining Greek life was a huge step in the right direction as far as making a huge campus feel small, but I consider that to be a different kind of campus involvement. I knew that being engaged in extracurricular activities, such as an internship, volunteer work, or a job, could help me adjust to both college life and adult life.

I chose to apply for two unpaid positions on campus during my first Winter Quarter at Davis: Her Campus and the UC Davis Student Housing and Dining Sustainability Internship program. My position at Her Campus excited me from the beginning since I knew it would give me an opportunity to give my mind a rest from schoolwork and write fun articles in an environment teeming with smart and ambitious women.

Conversely, my sustainability internship has given me the amazing opportunity to learn more about UC Davis and my major through tabling in the Dining Commons and digging through Resident Hall waste. Working with other students within my college, or even within my major, is so valuable since our goals and motivations are similar and they provide me with yet another group of peers that I can relate to.

While working with other students provides me with a support system and a network of potential friends (or at least acquaintances that I can smile at in the CoHo), it is also preparing me for a more formal working environment and giving me a chance to hone my professionalism. The process of perfecting my resume and cover letter, as well as practicing formal interviews is one of the most useful things I have learned at college so far. Also, internships or volunteer work relating to my major could help me in the future when it comes to applying for summer jobs or internships.

So, to the incoming freshmen of fall 2018: get involved! Campus involvement may seem overwhelming at first, especially considering that the majority of freshman year is spent trying to survive the highs and lows that come with living on your own.

However, even though my involvement on campus has added to my workload, it has also validated my position as one student out of 30,000 and made me feel more at home. There are literally hundreds of clubs, ranging from academic interests all the way to pop culture and media, and there are opportunities to work as an intern or volunteer in and around Davis throughout the year.

Follow your gut, chase your interests, and see where the wind (or Aggie Job Link) takes you!

Madison Lefler is a third year at UC Davis double majoring in Psychology and Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning, with a minor in Technology Management. She is also a Sustainability Peer Educator for UC Davis Student Housing and Dining and enjoys makeup tutorials on YouTube, making boards on Pinterest for everything, and drinking overpriced lattes with her girlfriends.
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