By Rachel Back, SCS Advising Leader:
Talking to our alumni is one of my favorite parts about working for the University of Illinois Foundation (UIF). UIF works closely with all three colleges that make up the University of Illinois system- UIC, UIS, and UIUC- to fundraise and receive gifts that ultimately fund the various programs and opportunities for each school. Although their experiences were different than mine, I found their experiences and words of advice to be very insightful. Here are some of the most memorable pieces of advice that our alumni have to offer.
- “Attend your classes.” I’ve been told several times by many alumni that one of the regrets was not attending their classes frequently. Since their overall grade also depended on section participation, aka attendance, they didn’t receive the grade they intended to earn. The alumni also emphasized the importance of going to class to learn the material because that was what their exams were heavily based on. Even though it may be difficult to force yourself to go to class, it is worth it in the long run.
- “Go to office hours if you truly need help.” One of the alumni that I talked to brought up a very good point: we are paying thousands of dollars to take classes and learn, so we might as well take advantage of all of the resources UIUC has to offer. Not only this, but it helps you solidify what you have learned so that you can succeed. The alumni also stressed that going to office hours is a great way to form a connection with your professors and get to know them. This is helpful when it is time to ask for letters of recommendation. After all, it’s difficult for someone to write about you when they do not know who you are.
- “Not everything will always go your way, so be flexible.” The job you get today may not be the same as the one in five years, and that’s okay. You can go into college being dead set on your major, but that can change as your life goes by. Not everything will as you have planned. This is also the case after college as well. After a while, you may find your job to become tedious, but this happens more often than not. You can choose a new path to pursue. Spread your wings and fly as far and high as you would like.
- “Networking with professionals is very important and helpful for when you are applying for jobs.” One of the individuals I talked with was an interviewer for several companies. He noted that forming relationships with guest speakers and other professionals is beneficial in the long run. He added that this shouldn’t be a one-time thing: you should focus on maintaining that relationship by sending emails (whether it’s about an interesting article you’ve encountered or just asking questions). This will make you more memorable and stand out from everyone else.
- “Enjoy your time at UIUC.” Your undergraduate college experience only happens once, so it’s best to take your time and savor every detail. Yes, studying is important, but it is also important to let yourself loose and have fun.