When I stepped foot onto NYU’s campus as a first-year student, I couldn’t wait to find my community. I’d always been full of school spirit and super-involved in high school, and was ready to do the same at college. This was also my chance to dip my toe into the world of journalism, in the big city! But I knew my journalism major didn’t start until sophomore year, so campus involvement took priority. I joined the Washington Square News as a reporter, went to student government meetings, and applied to be an Admissions Ambassador.
(I also joined our Tae Kwon Do club for two weeks, but I roundhouse-kicked myself outta there. Let’s not talk about that.)
When I graduated at Yankee Stadium, four years later, I was set on entering the world of higher education. How did that happen, you ask?
I’m sure everyone tells you to focus on professional experience via internships and part-time jobs. But have you also considered that your extracurricular involvement could be opening up new professional pathways?
My Social Network Expanded
Thanks to my four years as an Ambassador, I met fellow students from every school, major, and background. We were united by our love for NYU, as well as our experiences giving campus tours and answering the admissions hotline together.
By getting to know each other and our stories, we also knew our respective professional aspirations. So when my Ambassa-friend, Lana, was looking for an internship that joined her music business and journalism majors, I connected her with my friend from my res hall; Jessica had interned at Fueled By Ramen that previous semester. When I applied for an internship at MTV, I asked my Ambassador friends who’d interned at other MTV networks if they had any tips for the interviews.
It’s also crazy to learn how campus involvement highlights how small your world is at NYU. I served as a Welcome Week Captain my junior and senior year, and was a summer RA before my senior year. I was flabbergasted when I learned that my friends from different circles knew each other. Our campus, whether in New York or any of our degree-granting campuses or global academic centers, is its own little network of go-getters.
I think we forget that professional networking happens just as much on campus as it does off. It wasn’t just the fellow students I met who changed my career trajectory.
I Became Close With Administrators
As an Ambassador, I worked not only with fellow students, but also the rest of the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. From John and Beryl who oversaw the Welcome Center to the many admissions counselors in the office, I gained more insight into my role in the larger NYU admissions world. And the more I learned about admissions, the more excited I became to work my weekly shifts and chat with these people.
These professionals sat with me for informational interviews and offered advice. Several served as my references for full-time jobs and grad school. And now many of them are my colleagues and friends!
Working alongside people who were passionate about their daily work and careers made me more excited about my work. I looked forward more to my shifts on campus than I did my internship days. And I mean no shade to those fantastic internships I had! But when you discover your passion, there’s no use in denying it.
I Gained Transferable Skills
Through campus involvement, I perfected a lot of skills that I now use regularly in my career.
Public speaking was never my best skill, until I became an Ambassador. Now, I can just as easily speak to a group of five or to a room of 250.
When giving tours, I had to also think quickly on my feet in tough situations or when asked difficult questions. Those skills have helped me in my admissions roles today, whether giving information sessions or visiting high schools.
I learned how to be positively honest when representing the University, and in every professional role I’ve had since, this has been incredibly handy.
I realize as well that my time as a work-study student prepared me for office politics and working with difficult personalities. Though, those days in undergrad pale in comparison to what happens during a nine to five!
I’m sure many of these skills can be learned at so many institutions. But where else do you get these life lessons mixed with living in New York City, Abu Dhabi, or Shanghai? I truly believe the skills I gained were enhanced by my being an NYU student.
All of this is to say that as you’re considering which college to attend, think about a place that’s going to provide opportunities to step outside your comfort zone. You want to go to school where you’re challenged and can try new things. You never know what might influence your career later on!
And when thinking about your career post-college, have fun with what you’re doing now as a student. Listen and learn from those around you now, students and adults alike. You never know what you could learn or become passionate about. And maybe that on-campus activity you joined on a whim opens the door to a new professional trajectory you had never considered before!