-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.
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.