Students: Make this the year of taking action and building connections!

By Erik J. Friedman, Associate Dean of Career Development and Industry Relations

The start of another academic year always reminds me how much I used to love coming back to college and seeing the friends I didn’t get to see all Summer. It was such an exciting time, and there was great energy as we all arrived on campus in the Fall. Upon returning for our Senior year, my four closest friends all had really interesting experiences to share with one another. One friend had an internship at a marketing company, one worked in a sign shop and painted houses, one was a working musician at night and a clerk in a retail shop by day, another traveled, and I worked all Summer as waiter/bartender.  Each of us had such a different experience and it helped to shape who we are to this day. Later, we realized the impact these positions had on our careers.

Fast-forward 10 years out of college:

  • The intern is now a Senior Research Analyst for a marketing firm
  • The sign shop employee became a Creative Director for an Ad agency
  • The traveler became a Copywriter and Web Content Manager
  • The musician is now a Librarian
  • And me, the waiter/bartender, now works here at the Columbia College Career Center.

Additionally, these four former classmates are not just my old friends, but also current and past bandmates and lifelong creative collaborators.  We’ve hit the road, played live shows, recorded several albums, and all held down full-time jobs at the same time so we’d have both a steady income and an outlet for our creativity.

All of this is to tell you that it while you’re at Columbia College it’s important to get yourself out there and try new things. Take action and put yourself in situations where you will meet interesting people and make connections. Who you meet and collaborate with could last you a lifetime and being around your peers can inspire you to try new challenges and opportunities you may not have been able to accomplish on your own.

Put yourself in situations to meet others in your industry, get to know those in your profession, and refine your creative practice and get hands-on experience in your field.  Learn from working professionals as much as you can while you’re here because college goes by quickly and then a thing called “adulthood” begins!

Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Join a student group or organization
  • Look for a job on campus
  • Get part-time job off campus
  • Find creative opportunities to get involved in
  • Volunteer for a project or in your community
  • Freelance
  • Play in a band
  • PA on an independent film
  • And most importantly, make sure you do an internship while you’re here!

To reflect on what you did this past summer, come visit the Career Center. We’ll talk with you about the transferrable skills you have been developing and how to turn what you did over the summer into some useful points on your resume.  Let’s plan your next steps, whether it be an internship, job, or making sure you have a life changing adventure next summer.

Hope to see you all here, and have an excellent semester!