First Year Advice from a Former Student
An Algonquin College alum shares her golden rules to killing it in your first year.
A wise man once said, “Respect your elders,” so that’s exactly what we’re going to do here. My name is Chelsie, and I’m a graduate from the Advertising and Marketing Communications Management program at Algonquin College. These are my golden rules to kill it in college!
Pick a program you like
It sounds silly but it’s true! You won’t work a day in your life if you like the work you do. I’ve always been passionate about writing, and I knew I wanted to do something related to that. I also knew that I wanted lots of people to see my work. Advertising checked every box on my list and, after three years, I became a pretty successful copywriter! Dreams do come true.
Make the most of your co-op placement
You might be “just another intern” but this is your chance to stand out from the crowd! Contribute in meetings, take notes, ask questions, offer assistance, and make yourself heard. Acing your co-op is about selling the best version of yourself. This is your opportunity to pave the road to a long and prosperous career. Show them what you can do.
Communication is key
Speaking up when something bothers you, establishing and protecting your boundaries, and listening to others makes all the difference no matter what situation you’re in (but it definitely helps if you’re living with four strangers). Don’t be scared to use your voice.
My friend McKenna lived with four roommates. Things weren’t always smooth sailing in her household but thanks to her strong communication skills, she and her flatmates were usually able to work out a solution or come to an agreement/compromise.
Networking is awesome
I learned very quickly that my profs were powerful people. They seemed to know everyone in the advertising industry, and everyone seemed to know them. Becoming good friends with my copywriting prof was one of the best things I’ve ever done. In my second year, Jake became my mentor and pushed me to become the best copywriter I could be.
Eventually, he would mention my name to his industry pals when they were looking for interns and junior writers. Likewise, I would bring up his name while networking and they immediately knew I would be up to snuff. All because Jake taught me. Name dropping is a powerful tool (that I still sometimes use all these years later). Jake and I still chat all the time. Isn’t networking wonderful?
Time management is everything
Contrary to popular belief, time management is more than planning out when you’re going to get your assignments done between work and school. It’s about creating and maintaining balance. Your work won’t be up to par if you’re running on two hours of sleep. Make time to show up for yourself.
Showing up for yourself looks like grabbing a coffee before actually going to your 8am class. It looks like setting a timer for your study break. It looks like putting your phone in your bag to give the class your full attention. It looks like getting a good night’s sleep before a stressful exam. It looks like doing more than the assigned reading because you’ve got plans the next day. Get the picture? Make sure you include time for your personal needs in your schedule. Can’t have yin without yang.
Do your best
Practice makes perfect. Your first year is about getting the hang of things, setting up a routine, and going easy on yourself. It might be challenging at first but give yourself the gift of time. You’re going to do great things, grasshopper.
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