“Things I Wish I’d Listened to as a Freshman”
By Camryn Daniels
As unbelievable as it is to me, my senior year and college career are coming to an end. The last four years have been both the longest and the shortest four years of my life. I’ve had major highs and lows at IUPUI, and as I reflect on them, I think about all the advice I didn’t heed. As a freshman, it was hard for me to accept that there was help all around me, all the time. Instead, I chose to trudge along on my own through difficult classes, confusion about my major, and lack of internships. I’m a changed woman now and feel no shame asking for help when I need it (which is often). But I cannot say the same about my first few years as a college student. To any readers who are still in the thick of their college career, do what I refused to do: Take people’s advice into consideration.
As a freshman, I didn’t step out of my box enough. I have empathy for my 18-year-old self because starting college is scary, but those first few months are a critical time for making friends and getting involved on campus. I became close with some of my fellow Bridge students, and my peer and faculty mentors always provided me with opportunities to get out and meet people — however, looking back, I spent a lot of time in my dorm room. Luckily, I found a true friend in my roommate, but I let myself get comfortable in our 10-foot-by-10-foot box on the sixth floor of North Hall, when I could have been joining clubs or reaching out more to my classmates. I did join the Student Activities Programming Board — I went to a meeting and joined one of the activity boards, but it just wasn’t for me. Then, the pandemic hit and annihilated all possibilities for meeting new people. There wasn’t anything I could do about that, so I just charge that one to the game. Which leads me to the first piece of advice I wish I had listened to as a freshman: Join some clubs.
When the summer of 2022 rolled around, suddenly I was starting my senior year and I still had not had an internship. It is important to note that I needed an internship to graduate. I needed two, actually — one for my major (Journalism/PR) and one for my certificate (Museum Studies). I needed two, and I had zero. I had spent the last three months gallivanting around Europe during my study abroad semester in Italy, so an internship was the last thing on my mind. When I got back to the United States, I had to face the consequences. Luckily, everything worked out — I have an internship in the marketing department of a museum, so I’m killing two birds with one stone and having fun while doing it — but I could have avoided all the stress of acquiring that internship if I had listened to my parents. They were in my ear every semester telling me to apply to this internship and apply to that internship, but I was not trying to hear it. If you are in that position right now, I’m telling you: Hear it. Even if you don’t need an internship to graduate like I did, it will never hurt you to learn something new and get work experience. So, to reiterate, the second piece of advice I wish I had listened to as a freshman is this: Don’t put off applying for internships.
Lastly, my first couple of years in college, I turned down a lot of academic opportunities and opportunities in my job because I was uncomfortable doing new things. I was very much a “no” person. With most of my college career behind me instead of in front of me, I quickly became a “yes” person because I don’t know how often opportunities will fall into my lap after graduation. The result of this is that I have a few more responsibilities now, but I am learning and growing at a faster rate. My freshman and sophomore year, I felt very stagnant because I let my discomfort hold me back. I’m not saying I am a completely reborn woman who isn’t afraid to try new things (because that is not the case at all), but now I see the value in trying new things. When my professors ask me if I want to participate in something, if there is an opportunity to write for or do an on-camera interview for the Journalism/PR department, or if my internship asks me to attend an event, more often than not, I will say yes. So, the last piece of advice I wish I had listened to as a freshman is this: Be open to being a “yes” person.
The college experience is unique to every person that goes through it, but there is a common denominator for everyone. College is a transformative time; at the end, you will know things you wish you knew at the beginning. You can’t go back and grab your freshman-year self by the shoulders and shake them and tell them to join the beekeeping club. But you can write a blog for the Journalism/PR department and hope that it reaches the right underclassman who is in the same spot you were four years ago.
You can connect with senior Camryn Daniels on LinkedIn.