I am pleased to have Becky Makous, a college senior, write the following Guest Blog. Becky is a psychology major at the University of Vermont. It is my pleasure to have Becky share these insights for anyone seeking to make college a valuable experience:
Be focused when looking for jobs. Don’t job hunt for just anything. Look for companies whose values and ethos you agree with. I have friends who applied to dozens of cashier positions and retail jobs without getting a call back. As a psychology major, I applied to one job at a non-profit counseling center. I really focused on my cover letter and polished up my resume. And I got it! Employers can tell when you want that specific job versus when you’re looking for just any job.
If an interesting opportunity falls into your lap, be open and say yes to it. For example, I was offered an internship in the homicide squad of the Salt Lake City Police Department. I am not interested in police work or forensic psychology, but it was an amazing experience nonetheless, and I’m glad that I did it. Interesting opportunities arise all the time, you just need to stay open and say. “Yes.” Even if you don’t like the experience, at least you will have broadened your horizons and learned something about what you want in a future job or careers.
Don't be afraid to fail and stay humble. This season I learned how to ski. The first day I went I fell at least two dozen times (if not more), and by the end of the season I was skiing double black diamonds. Falling is not embarrassing. But if you never try, that is embarrassing. And even when I did fall, I would try to have a sense of humor about it, and realize that I was still a beginner, and that it is okay to mess up. And remember that if you aren’t failing at little, you aren’t leaving your comfort zone.
“If a man debauches himself, believing this will bring him happiness, then he errs from ignorance, not knowing what true happiness is.” – Socrates. It is okay to party in college. That’s part of the reason why people go to college, but know that meaningful relationships are not made when you’re blackout drunk. Relationships that started when yon connected over substance-use will end once you grow out of those substances. Real friends are people that you go grocery shopping with, study with, call on the phone crying after a break-up, play nerdy board games with, or spend hours together talking about everything under the sun. Partying is something that you grow out of.
Have low expectations but high hopes. I try to incorporate this into my philosophy of life. An example of this would be that I’m going to Denmark this summer to study abroad for 10 weeks. I know that when I move to a new place I’m going to be awkward and feel out of place. But I know that after a week or two I’m going to make friends and will hopefully have a wonderful summer that I will remember for decades. But I know that it’s probably not going to feel that way at first. Having low expectation means that you will never be disappointed. But having high hopes will stop you from becoming a cynic.
Make decisions that you will be comfortable with five years down the line. If you feel weird about asking a friend for the answers to an exam in a class that she took last semester, don’t do it. Integrity may feel like such a small thing in the moment, but it is so important, and it is what makes us proud of ourselves. You’re going to have to live with you for the rest of your life, so you should make yourself a likeable person with integrity.
Know that most troubles that you have now, you won’t remember five years from now. Perspective is one of the most valuable insights I have gained in the past couples years. Our own problems are so small when you look at the bigger picture. You may feel that your world is ending right now, but in five years from now, you won’t remember that embarrassing exam grade, or the fact that your roommate never did their dishes. If something really sad happens like a break-up remember that pain dulls with time, and in five years you’ll probably think back to it as a learning experience.
Respect that you are on your own journey and that other people are on theirs. Sometimes I get frustrated when people don’t have the same opinions as me, politically or otherwise. But I have to take a step back and realize that I have had different experiences and I have reached my own conclusions about the world, and other people may not be there yet, or may have a different perception of the world. And that’s okay!
And most importantly follow your passion: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ― Howard Thurman.
Written by Becky Makous
Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein is a psychologist with over twenty-two years’ experience specializing in child, adolescent, couples, and family therapy. He holds a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the State University of New York at Albany and completed his post-doctoral internship at the University of Pennsylvania Counseling Center. He has appeared twice on the Today Show, Court TV as an expert advisor, CBS eyewitness news Philadelphia, 10! Philadelphia—NBC and public radio. Dr. Bernstein has authored four books, including the highly popular 10 Days to a Less Defiant Child (Perseus Books, 2006), 10 Days to Less Distracted Child (Perseus Books 2007), Liking the Child You Love (Perseus Books 2009) and Why Can’t You Read My Mind? (Perseus Books 2003).