How to Make the Most of your Undergrad

Some people cannot wait to get school done and over with, and some people (ahem, like myself) never want to part with university. As you just start university, it is often overwhelming to see all the opportunities at your doorstep. On the contrary, in many ways your last year acts as a final opportunity to enjoy college life before finding work or pursuing often increasingly daunting training. Using the time you have wisely can help you out post-graduation. Here’s some advice on how to make the most of your undergrad and finish off strong!

Go to as many events as you can, but not everything.

Your program is most likely around four years long, so you have plenty of time to enjoy events over the course of your undergrad journey. Missing one event will not be the end of the world. Although FOMO (fear of missing out) is real, you will be able to have overall great memories regardless. Being in your final year can feel like it is your last chance to do everything. For some things it will be, but for many you will be able to have similar experiences later on. Make sure you prioritize your time to take advantage of the undergrad-exclusive opportunities. Also take the time to reflect on healthy experiences. If you don’t feel comfortable attending an event or you feel too exhausted to attend, it is okay to stay home or do something else. You don’t have to go just because your friends are attending, especially if you’ve attended something similar in a past year.

Stay on top of deadlines.

One huge way to turn your undergrad from bliss to a time of tension is to fall behind on due dates. This could be for your assignments, which are of course important, but as a senior student it could be also for job and post-grad program applications! Between writing cover letters and entrance essays, there can be many components to an application. Letting your future depend on a last-minute scramble won’t be enjoyable.

There are many ways to make your year great, but my biggest advice is to get involved.

Your grades are important, but it is the other experiences that can make you stand out. By getting involved with volunteering and attending fairs, sessions and workshops, you will be benefitting your future self. This is where you can meet people, which can result in new connections in a variety of fields, and with people who have similar passions as you. Networking events are not the only way to expand your network!

I’ll say it again: Networking events are not the only way to expand your network.

The people you engage with at a volunteering gig will see your work ethic, how you collaborate in a team setting and can also see the skills you possess in action. You might not say, “I’m great at managing a crowd and ensuring positivity,” when chatting over a veggie platter at a networking event. However, people can see skills like this when everyone comes to the fun-run registration table at the same time and the tablet isn’t connecting to the Wi-Fi.

Getting involved with activities that will also help you hone your skills can be great additions to your resume and give you tangible experiences to talk about both casually and in an interview setting. Why not have fun and learn? Okay, I know that sounds super cheesy… but it’s true –  you can! You can socialize and put yourself in a more knowledgeable standing at the same time.

Let me break it down for you as a personal example: Each of these involvements coincides with the theories and ideas I learned in my classes as a communications student. These are just a select few things out of what is offered and available in the Laurier community, but similar groups can be found at other campuses too!

Formal Education

I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Honours Communication Studies. I also achieved minors in Film Studies and Anthropology and 2 concentrations. Take classes that catch your interest and work towards options, concentrations or minors of interest. This will make you more well-rounded and keep you interested in what you’re learning, so you do not get bored of taking one discipline across your whole timetable.

Informal Education

Clubs

Women in Leadership Laurier – This is where I was able to learn how to use Adobe Illustrator. I now have skills across most of the Adobe Creative Cloud applications because of the initial push for my work in this club. I also gained knowledge in branding and marketing as their Graphic Design Coordinator.

Her Campus – I joined the Social Media Team first, then became the Director of Marketing. I was able to use social media such as Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter to promote the chapter and content that I and other members created each semester. From sharing posts online to standing around campus at booths and collaborating with community partners, it was a blast and has given me great connections.

Organizations

Alpha Omega Sorority – Serving on the Executive Board has helped me develop countless skills. I have been elected to roles that made me act as an educator, event planner, leader, decision maker, supporter, coordinator and more. Even as a general sister the work that goes into helping bring together all the elements of a philanthropic fundraiser and the passion behind passing on traditions is incredible. Joining my sorority resulted in me feeling that I was capable of pulling off anything; it has been and continues to be a confidence booster.

Jobs

Campus Ambassador – As someone going into public relations, this was a great way to hone my public speaking and time management skills. Essentially each tour was a two-hour oral presentation. Add in the email etiquette required and the job of upholding a professional yet relatable-to-students vibe all the while handling tough questions of parents and you’ve got a good foundation for becoming a Media Relations Coordinator.

The Cord – In the position of Video Editor, I was able to work on my videography, photography, editing and even written journalism skills. I learned how to use InDesign and about different techniques across various recording and capturing technology. I was part of the Editorial Board so I could help with creative decisions and ideas for the newspaper overall, not just the online videos.

My point is that without signing up or applying, I would not have had these experiences. Some of them I didn’t even start until later on in my degree, so if you’re at the tail end of your undergrad, just try to manage what you are capable of handling. Hopefully you see the connections to how these activities come together under the communications and media umbrella, which is where I’d like to end up as a fully-fledged adult.

By engaging with opportunities that fit your passions and program, which you are hopefully passionate about, you can build a repertoire of skills suited for what you’d like to grow into as well.

Be a sponge and absorb as much as you can, just remember you’ll start to drip and get messy if you do too much!