Written by: Priscilla Akpabio
As a graduating senior, I know firsthand how difficult it is to maintain a good academic standing while trying to create room for professional development. I will be sharing some resources on ways to maintain a healthy balance as well as things that worked for me during my time at Illinois Tech. This is a summary of the things I wish I had done or taken seriously as a freshman. These are also generally helpful tips regardless of what year you’re in, it’s never too late to start.
- Join on campus organizations
There will never be enough words to emphasize how important this particular one is. Most of the relationships and opportunities I had in college were as a result of belonging to a student organization. These organizations help students academically as well professionally. They also help with your social life, I made most of my friends through attending meetings and going for events. Being a member of NSBE for example helped me academically. There were group study sessions organized to help students study and get help from upperclassmen if necessary. I found peer mentors in these upperclassmen and got resources like textbooks, advice on preferred professors and help with homework. NSBE also helped many students launch professional careers by introducing them to alumni, hosting sessions for students to meet companies and recruiters and also creating the opportunity for students to attend conferences and career fairs. A lot of organizations on campus offer the same help to students, there are others like SHPE and SWE.
- Visit Career Services
I remember being a freshman and not having much knowledge on how to create a resume or look for jobs on campus. I recommend getting acquainted with the career service department and getting a feel for the opportunities available on campus. It is also nice to learn about career fairs and other career development events going on. Due to COVID, all of Career Services has shifted online and you can drop by for interview prep, resume/cover letter review, LinkedIn tips and career coaching at the following link from Monday to Friday between 12:30pm to 3:30pm:
- Attend a Career Fair
It’s easy to think because you are still a freshman there is a lot of time before graduation and you don’t have to worry about career fairs. While it is true that graduation is a good amount of time away, it’s always helpful to get a head start. Going to career fairs requires a whole lot of confidence and the more practice you get the better. It’s also nice to make connections with recruiters and spend the next couple of years fostering those relationships. IIT’s Career Services is hosting a virtual career fair on February 25th so make sure to check it out – here is a link for more information: https://web.iit.edu/career-services/students/career-fairs
- Know your Classmates
I found it was helpful during my time at Illinois Tech to be acquainted with a small group of people in my classes. We typically had study groups, did homework and prepared for exams together. It also helped my social life, it made the process of making friends I had things in common with a lot easier.
- Participate in Research
An extra tip is to get acquainted with professors in your department conducting research. Research experience is helpful when you eventually start looking for internships and full time jobs. Research experience also helps provide insight on what your professional interests could possibly be.