We are all in college for an obvious reason — to learn. We attend lectures, labs, and study sessions each day in order to do so. While being a student is like a full-time job itself, many of us have other activities that consume our time; examples include sports, clubs, work, hobbies, etc. While attending classes and learning material is important, the opportunities for learning that present themselves in these other activities are of great importance, too. Today I am going to share my experience in learning outside the classroom.
First, I’ll give a little bit of background information. I came to UMD as an Integrated Elementary and Special Education major. I had spent 2 summers working with children with disabilities, so becoming a special education teacher was what I thought I wanted to do. I was also working on getting a job at school. As a freshman, I was granted work study so I needed to find an on-campus job … and here I am working in Career & Internship Services. I was initially hired to work at the front desk in our office, which I did all of last year and enjoyed a lot!
I was working and learning all there is to know about our career office and its resources. Meanwhile, in my classes, I was not enjoying the learning I was doing. I found myself feeling bored and uninterested in my schoolwork, so I knew I needed to make a change. What I didn’t know, though, was what change to make. I had a job that allowed me to work with great people, as well as interact with and help students each day — two things I really enjoyed and knew I wanted in a future job. With the help of our career counselors, I decided to switch my major to psychology and added a minor in early childhood studies. I felt great about this decision because I knew I would be able to do things I enjoy — work with and help people.
This past fall semester, I made the transition to working as the employer relations student assistant in Career & Internship Services. Within this role, the work I do has changed pretty dramatically. I still work with great people and have the ability to help them, but I interact with students much less. Now, most of my interaction is with my colleagues and supervisors. I help plan/execute our job fairs and other recruiting events, analyze data, assist employers, manage GoldPASS powered by Handshake, and more. In this role, I have to pay attention to detail, be very organized, and spend a great deal of time on a computer — all things I have come to enjoy.
In having this new role at work, I again started to question what I wanted to do post-grad. I didn’t specifically know what I wanted to do with my psychology degree when I initially changed. In working in employer relations, though, I grew to enjoy a more business-oriented role, so I wanted to somehow implement that in what I was doing academically. To do so, I decided to add a minor in management. I was thinking this addition would give me the tools I needed to find a job after graduation, which was both people-oriented and business-oriented.
That leads me to this semester. Since I just added the management minor, I had to enroll in an LSBE-heavy course load in order to be able to take the upper division classes for my minor. I was super nervous about this; I entered an academic realm I had never really explored before — taking classes such as accounting, economics, and information technology. Much to my surprise, I began to LOVE the classes I am in — especially accounting. I began to learn more about accounting when my professor would share his previous experiences working in the field, which caught my interest. I found myself thinking psychology still was not the right fit.
And that brings us to today. I am now an accounting major. I enjoy the business-oriented aspects of my job so much, I knew I wanted to alter what I was doing academically. What I did not know was how much I would enjoy business classes. I am the type of person who finds it extremely difficult to be engaged in a class when I am uninterested, but this semester I have found myself being more engaged and interested in classes than I ever have before. This is still a very new switch for me, but I feel great about it and am incredibly excited.
I have learned a great deal in my different roles within Career & Internship Services and have gained many skills — both hard and soft. I can confidently say that if it weren’t for being offered the employer relations role, I would have never dreamt of dabbling into the business world, which would have never led me to accounting. Throughout all of this major-switching, minor-adding madness I have experienced the past few semesters, I have learned a lot. My biggest piece of advice is to not be afraid of trying new things. Like me, you might try something completely out of your comfort zone and find out that you really like it. Our time spent in college is about learning, of course, but sometimes the learning we do when we are not in class can be more valuable. For me, this is true in that the learning I have done outside the classroom has completely changed the learning I do in the classroom!
Of Possible Interest:
• Learning Outside the Classroom posts
• Building Your Resume – all our blog posts on the topic
• Boost Your Career in College – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources
Photo Sources: Unsplash | Ruben Rodriguez; UMD C&IS