College Advice From the Future

WORDS BY: RUBEN DIAZ

During my senior year of high school in fall of 2012, it was time for me to decide what college I wanted to attend. After hearing some of my middle and high school teachers praise California State University, Long Beach – and the fact that my two best friends were considering the school – I thought “why not,” and decided to apply there.

“Great,” I thought to myself. “Now the hard part: deciding on a major.”

Not knowing what I wanted to pursue, I ended up choosing music as my major as an attempt to fulfill a farfetched fantasy of mine of someday becoming a singer. Three years later, I am now a senior journalism major emphasizing in public relations with a minor in philosophy – who would have guessed?

Looking back at my past, and examining my current standing in college, there are some things that I wish I could tell my past self on what I should have done differently. The first, and one of the most important, pieces of advice I would tell myself is to actually spend time learning about the different majors that are available.

For instance, if someone were to ask my past self what marketing majors study, my past self would probably give that person an obvious and somewhat sarcastic answer.

“Oh, they study how to market.”

But what does that really mean? And is it something that I would be interested in studying?

I would recommend myself to do some research on the subject by looking for brief descriptions on it to see if the major is a field I would consider studying. If it turned out to be something I like, then I would do more research and try to contact professors that teach the subject, or actual marketers, to give me an in-depth description of what it is and how it’s implemented.

Although I am focusing on marketing as the current example, I would advise myself to do this with all majors that I am not familiar with and with the ones that peak my interest. This action would have saved me time on trying to figure out what to do, and I would not have changed my minor so many times – in fact, I wish I just stuck with philosophy so I could have made it my additional major. Granted, I will never truly know if majoring in journalism was the best decision, but it ended up becoming something I enjoy studying and practicing.

While there is a plethora of advice I could just endlessly give out, the last major piece of advice I would give myself regards internships – it is never too early to try and take one.

As of now, it is required for all journalism majors to complete an internship in order to graduate. Deciding to wait until my senior year of college, I took on an internship at a marketing and communications office this semester. During my time there thus far, I learned that the value of an internship is to provide insight on what it is like to work in a specific field.

The insight made me realize that I could have interned at other places to give me other perspectives on different work environments. Due to this realization, I would tell my past self to try to obtain different internships in places I am interested in working in to see if I like it. Not only that, but I would tell myself that I do not have to wait for internships to be posted online.

I have a friend who managed to get an internship because he emailed the place of his internship asking if he could intern there. It also does not hurt to ask people if they know anyone that could use a specific intern or volunteer for a specific job.

While my past self did not have any of the pieces of advice previously mentioned, I can at least offer it to others so they can avoid making the same choices as I did.