By Dominique Resendes, Vice President of Member Services
Being a junior puts me in a good place to offer some college advice. Two years ago, I was terrified, moving into school and not knowing what to expect, and in two years I’ll be terrified, not moving into school and not knowing what to expect. I am right in the middle, past the intro courses, but not quite at the final ones either. I remember my mistakes because I still make them.
It’s okay to not know things, because even if you think you know, you probably don’t
I started school as communications major, but I didn’t have an understanding of what that really entailed. I had no idea what I wanted to do and as a junior I’m still not 100% sure, but I learned that knowing things opens yourself to even more experiences. If you think you know what you want to be, then you’re going to be focused on just that. You won’t want to dabble in other things and you may miss out on something you might enjoy even more.
When you get to choose classes, choose something interesting to you
Between the new core and having no choice but to pick a minor, you’ll have a lot of flexibility in picking classes. The communications major doesn’t have many required classes and there is a lot of room to choose your own electives. That is not the case for all majors and is something you should definitely take advantage of. Those other classes are how you find what gives you passion and will help solve the scary question of, “What am I going to do with the rest of my life?” You know you want to do something in communications, but taking a variety of classes will help you find your interest in one of the many fields in the industry. More importantly, taking those extra classes may make you realize that you’re in the wrong major or concentration, or that you want to add an additional major. For example, by taking political science classes, I realized that I loved politics as much as I loved public relations and decided to double major so I could bring those two things together.
Reach out to your professors
The communications department is fortunate enough to have some of the best educators I have ever come across in my schooling career. This is not a big major so you’ll have the same professors multiple times. Get to know them from the start and it will help you build a stronger relationship with them. They are also some of the toughest professors I’ve ever met, but they understand that life can be unpredictable. So don’t be afraid to reach out to them if you’re struggling because it will help more than hurt.
Everyone is in a different place, don’t compare yourself
Everyone comes into college with different levels of experience and expertise. Some people will be advanced and that will intimidate you, but you will be given so many opportunities to learn and catch up. You may also find yourself comparing your abilities to others, but, as I learned from one of my COM professors, everyone has something different to contribute. Don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t the best writer because your strengths may be in presenting, or designing, which are equally as important.
Network with people in your major
Yes, the people in your major are the ones who will be your competitors for jobs and internships. However, they can be so much more than that. Juniors and seniors in the major can help you with scheduling, with the tougher communications classes, or just help give you direction. The people in your class will come to be some of your closest friends and your professional support system. In the long run, Salem State communications majors will be your first connections in the professional world before you can make your own.
The communications department has so many clubs within the major that will help you socially, academically and professionally. These are the organizations that employers are looking to see you involved in. They will also give you so many amazing opportunities. Through PRSSA, I’ve been given the opportunity to go to conferences in Boston and in November we will be going to a conference in Atlanta, giving me networking opportunities like no other. Don’t limit yourself! There are many more clubs outside of the major for all types of interests and you can be a part of more than one!
Don’t, for a second, doubt yourself
You’re going to want to doubt yourself; don’t. Just because you’re struggling with something doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Just because you’re first draft wasn’t good, doesn’t mean you can’t make it great. Communications is all about editing,
so don’t get discouraged if something isn’t perfect the first time. Instead, use criticism, whether it’s your own or from someone else, to better whatever you do. You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, you’re talented enough!