5 Lessons Learned during Freshman Year

-By Taylor Ruby, current Fisher student

Entering college, hundreds of people will tell you that you are going to learn so much in your first year. Without the experiences that come with being a college freshman, it is hard to understand what they are talking about. I would like to discuss a few things that I learned during my freshman year at Ohio State about the business profession and life in general.

1.) You are never too young
A lot of younger students are afraid to start actively developing their professional network because they are so young. While being the youngest one in the room can be intimidating, it can also be impressive. In the business field, it is never too early to start practicing professional skills. I often times will tell my friends about how, in the business field, everything happens 3 years early. For many people, it takes a lot of interaction with professionals before they feel comfortable in professional situations. Therefore, it may actually be an advantage to get that practice before it is crunch time and you are trying to get an internship. Your young age also sets you apart from a lot of the other students. Some things might not go as planned but that is okay because you are young! Practicing professional communication and networking is a great thing to do at a young age. Also, even the smallest of acts may lead to something bigger. There were many instances this year where I said hello to just one person, yet many other opportunities were shown to me as a result! If you are unsure about anything, I would recommend contacting the Office of Career Management. That is what they are there for! They can be a great resource if you are unsure if an event would be a good place to practice your professional communication skills.

2.) Diversify
Many students try to have the perfect resume but there is no such thing. Resumes are supposed to reflect who you are and what experiences you have had. Diversify your involvement and pursue your interests. I am involved in a lot of things on campus. Some of them are business related but not all of them. I enjoy playing tennis so I make a pointed effort to keep playing and have joined the club tennis team at Ohio State. Sure, that is not directly related to accounting or business. However, my experiences with the sport of tennis will help me with many things in the professional workplace, which leads me to my next point.

3.) Soft skills are important
Having a high GPA and working hard on school work is definitely important for success in a professional workplace. However, in order to become truly accomplished you must also have soft skills. By soft skills, I mean the ability to converse and work with other people. Many employers look for food service on resumes because that is one of the best places to learn soft skills. However, it is not the only place. I see every day as an opportunity to practice my soft skills. As previously mentioned, I am very involved on campus. Every time I am talking with someone or participating in a group activity, I am trying to further develop these skills. By interacting with all different types of people, you will get to experience several different types of situations. I interact with business students on a daily basis in my classes. However, business students and art students are very different. Architecture students and science students are also different! It is important to develop relationships with a variety of different people because your clients in the professional world will be very diverse. Also, sometimes the best relationships can develop with people who are nothing like you!

4.) There is no ceiling
As I was deciding between colleges, I wanted a college where there would be no limit to what I could achieve. Honestly, Ohio State was the perfect decision. If you have a dream, pursue it. You have all of the resources you need to do anything that you want to at this university. Do not be afraid to talk to people about your dreams. If you want to do something and are not quite sure how, ask someone! The faculty may have a contact or know something that you do not. Have no fear. If you do not have a dream yet, that is okay. Start trying out new organizations and activities. You will eventually come across something you are interested in. With the seemingly infinite number of organizations and resources at Ohio State, I can confidently say that there is something here for you.

5.) Utilize upperclassman
You will make many decisions in your first year of college. These decisions include what classes to take, what major to choose, what activities to get involved in and more. Upperclassman are great resource. They have already gone through everything that you are going through. They have taken the classes that you are considering taking, they have chosen their career paths, they have been involved in the activities that you are thinking about joining. Through a program in which I participated, I was matched with an upperclassman mentor. She graduated in May and actually took summer classes in order to graduate on time with enough credit hours to sit for the Certified Public Accounting exam. I reached out to her about my goal to graduate on time with enough hours to sit for the same exam. We ended up meeting for lunch and talking about her experiences, as well as mine. I learned a great deal in just that one conversation. It was nice to talk with someone who had just completed the goal that I am currently working towards. There is most likely an upperclassman somewhere around you that is doing or has already done what you are working towards. They can provide great insight.

These are just a few of the things that I learned during my freshman year. I hope that, even if you are not a freshman in college, these lessons can be applied to your life as well. They certainly helped me through my freshman year.

Reneging on job offers (Don’t do it)

Reneging on job offers is often a touchy subject—but nevertheless it’s a topic that business students are often confused about. What does reneging even mean?

Renege (definition): To go back on a promise, undertaking or contract

Synonyms: default on, fail to honor, go back on, break, back out of, withdraw from, retreat from, etc.

Sounds pretty serious, right? It is. As a Fisher business student, you will be developing a lot of relationships with peers, faculty, staff, and employer representatives. Along the way you will start to develop your “personal brand”—the unique set of characteristics that distinguish you from other job seekers. One of the characteristics of successful business people is having integrity. Loyalty, reliability, and honesty are all hallmarks of some of the most successful leaders in the world. If you want to start you career off on the right foot by gaining the respect of employers, reneging on a job offer is a situation you do not want to find yourself in.

It is very important that as you begin your internship or full-time job search, you manage your offers professionally. A verbal or written acceptance of an offer of employment is considered a commitment. It is never permissible to accept a job offer (either verbal or written) and later decline. This can get you into serious trouble! Not only will you lose the respect of the company, but you are harming your reputation (personal brand) as a job candidate.

The best way to prevent the possibility of having to renege on an offer is to always openly communicate with employers about your current job search. If you receive a job offer, but you are still waiting to hear back from other companies, it is almost always appropriate to ask for a deadline extension. Most companies are aware that you are probably looking at other employment opportunities, so they will not be surprised if you ask for more time to decide. If the company truly wants you to work there, they will accommodate your request.

Here is an example situation: Let’s say that you interviewed with Company A on October 12th and Company B on October 15th. Company A is your top choice, and Company B is your second choice. Company B really liked you, and they promptly made you an offer on October 16th and asked for a decision by October 23rd. You still have not heard back from Company A, your first choice, although they told you that you would know by October 27th.  The most appropriate way to handle this situation is to tell Company B about your status. You could say,

“Thank you so much for the offer. I am definitely considering your offer; however, I am currently in the process of interviewing with another company and would like to follow through with their process. I should hear back from them by October 27th. It would really help me to make the best decision if I could have an extension on accepting your offer. Could I have until November 1st to give you my decision?”

Asking for an extension this way accomplishes 2 things:

1) You are being honest and open with the company about your situation, thereby promoting integrity in your relationship with the company

2) If the company agrees to your new deadline, you have given yourself the opportunity to evaluate both job offers, if you receive an offer from Company A

In most cases, the company will agree to your terms. During fall recruiting season, the Office of Career Management encourages all companies to give students an acceptance deadline of November 1st, or four weeks from the time of the offer (whichever date comes later). In the spring, we recommend 2 weeks in order to give students adequate time to truly consider the offer.

Not only does reneging hurt your reputation, but it also can come with some pretty serious consequences! If it is determined that you have reneged on either an internship or career position offer, you will be asked to meet with one of our full-time staff members in Career Management to discuss your situation. Depending on your situation, consequences could include: your writing of a letter of apology, your access to FisherConnect being discontinued, and/or your access to services as an alum being denied.

If you find yourself in a situation with multiple job offers, it would be very helpful to you to meet with a Career Consultant in our office to discuss the offers and how to manage deadlines, so that you can make good decisions and not violate any policies. Simply call our office at 614-292-6024 to schedule an appointment. We are here to help you in any way we can!

For more info, check out this blog about an employer’s perspective when students renege on an offer: http://blog.naceweb.org/2014/08/19/when-a-student-reneges-on-a-job-offer-an-employers-perspective/