In two weeks, I’ll move temporarily to Indiana for a 12-week internship with PepsiCo. Not only will I learn the practice of many things I learned in the classroom, but I’ll be tasked with specific, deliverable tasks and share what I create with leaders at PepsiCo in Dallas at the end of the summer. Classmates will move to places all over the country and work for various employers, including Boeing, Owens Corning, Ford, Texas Instruments, Exxon, Honeywell, Huntington Bank, Honda, and several others I can’t remember– and do similar things. We have an exciting summer ahead!
To that end.. and without further adieu… here are my Top 10 jewels of wisdom for 1st-year MHRM students:
- Be engaged. This may sound obvious, but the students who succeed are the ones who, as Professor Inks says, make the commitment to “be there” in class. When he means “there,” he means paying full attention and intently thinking about concepts, questions, and problems. I take it one step further: be engaged. Ask questions. Disagree. Faculty are more than willing to help you grow your knowledge and comfort with content if you ask for such help. Talk to them after class. E-mail them. Visit them during office hours. Soak in their knowledge!
- Don’t overextend yourself. This is really easy to do on this campus. Fisher and OSU have many, many things that can take away from study time– including things that are otherwise good uses of time, i.e. student organizations, philanthropic causes, speakers, etc. But every minute of the day counts and you want to be “firing on all cylinders” in your coursework. I recommend involvement in one or two organizations at most and a clear understanding of what the involvement entails.
- Partner early with Jill Westerfeld in the Office of Career Management. Jill knows what she is doing and loves to give students’ personalized insight and suggestions about anything career-related. Start by showing her your resume and LinkedIn page– and telling her where you want to be professionally.
- Be prepared for the first semester. It is overwhelming– no way around it. Classmates and I had been warned about this in orientation, but it is no joke. In addition to acclimating to so many new things, autumn is “recruiting season.” That means you’ll see recruiters early and often throughout the semester (mostly before the holidays, with heavy presence in September and October) and you’ll be able to attend many informational sessions, mixers, speakers, and… of course… interviews. So, in addition to getting the lay of the land in grad school and living in a new city, you’ll be competing for a summer internship with your classmates (and others across the country)! Prepare by managing your time well and understanding your personal goal of every recruiting event you attend.
- When it comes to internship and job offers, don’t compare yourself to others. Now, this is not a very realistic suggestion, I realize. Perhaps a better way to express this is: compare yourself to others in a fair way and don’t take things personally. You will hear stories throughout the first year of classmates getting internship offers– and classmates who don’t. Some classmates get offers from very respected employers. Some get impressive compensation– allegedly. The truth is… you will never know the truth about other internships or about why you were or were not picked for an interview. There are many factors, some of which are out of your control. Control the things you can and don’t worry about the rest.
- Take no more than one elective at a time. I made the bold decision of taking two electives during my three core courses in the second session of last semester and did the same thing this semester. Not smart. These are graduate courses, so you need to devote a good chunk of time and brainpower to them. Taking a high course load and adding that to other obligations, i.e. work, is a risky proposition.
- Invest in a good laptop. Simple suggestion, but important. I started with a cheap, refurbished mini-laptop that was slow and is now in disrepair. You need a workhorse. By the way, some timed exams are taken online during class, so you don’t want to mess around with poor technology!
- Build relationships with classmates. Not only will you benefit from having strong connections with great people, but you’ll find their ways of looking at things to be a great benefit. I cannot tell you how many conversations I had in the past year where I was able to clarify a concept or better understand something because I went to a formal study group, talked to someone in the hall, or took part in a GroupMe discussion. Side note: 2nd-year MHRMs are also great assets. They’ve been through what you’re going through. Don’t be shy! Introduce yourself.
- Remember that Rohr Cafe closes at 7pm. So, don’t count on getting any food or drink during class breaks (there is typically a 10-minute break sometime around 7:30-8:30pm in every class). Pack your food and keep it in the Gerlach Lounge fridge. Also, don’t be shy about eating in class. At first, it felt strange; but you’ll get used to it. No fish, garlic, or similarly strong-smelling food, please!
- Get comfortable with international students. Meeting and socializing with international students might seem uncomfortable at first, but I’ve built some good friendships with international students. It just takes a little effort to get out of one’s comfort zone. I also very much admire what they’ve done– imagine moving halfway across the world to Columbus, Ohio, for grad school! Their life stories are impressive and they share enlightening details about their countries and how HR works for them.
Before I started as a grad student at OSU, I knew on some level that my life would change forever. But truly, nothing can prepare you for this experience– this wonderful, deeply enriching, challenging experience that cannot be replicated. Take advantage of this time and make the most of it!