It’s all about the experience

Stressed out 21st century college students attempt to navigate the new rules of entering the workforce.

Hanna Bubser, Columnist

When I talk to my mom about her years in college, she’ll offer a sigh and a smile. “Some of the best years of my life” is something she’s been known to say. Her memories, though slightly tinted by the lens of nostalgia, revolve around carefree nights with friends, a mix of clubs and organizations that she joined “just for fun,” and, of course, the copious amounts of junk food that filled her cabinets.

Nowadays, she finds herself working at a college, and recently she brought up how shocked she was when two first-year students explained to her how thinly they were stretched. They told my mother how each and every day was filled with stress, they felt constantly overwhelmed and they often second guessed their choice of major.

Taking into consideration that these were two students in their first semester of college, they could have been just a tad dramatic. But I would be lying if I said I didn’t relate to them on a certain level. I expressed this to my mom, who was in the middle of blaming society for placing unrealistic expectations on our young people; she was taken aback. My mom, and dad for that matter, often comment on how I seem to really have my life together, and how they are so proud me and everything I’ve accomplished. You know, typical parent musings. What my parents, and others, may not realize is how much goes into the life of an average college student.

The “best years of our lives” have become a crunch time for getting as much under our belt as possible before the great judgment day of finding a job arrives. The way I look at it, and the way I explained it to my mom is, today’s college student has to get experience before they actually get experience.

Basically, employers are not instantly impressed by a college degree anymore. Graduating does not ensure you a career, as it once did. The job market is a competitive place, and it’s just going to get more so as time progresses. Having no idea if you will even get a job in your chosen field after college is just one of the many clouds hanging over a student’s head. And I know what you’re thinking: it takes work to get there. It takes time and effort. And that’s true. These are all good things. They build character and make you better prepared for what so many people refer to as “the real world” (also known as the time after you’re done with those many hours of your life spent in a school).

Think about your résumé for a moment. The list of clubs, organizations and positions that we choose to put on there are very purposeful. The goal is to fill our toolboxes with relevant and applicable offerings that will impress an employer enough to give us a chance.

Now think back to those first-year students that my mom encountered. I’m sure you can find some solace with them. The truth of the matter is, as modern day members of the collegiate system, we are juggling a lot. This is nothing new. There are parts of this struggle that are beneficial, and other parts that have a negative impact.

Can there be a balance? Short answer: I think yes. We are entering the job market in a time where experience truly is everything.

This is not going to get any easier. We can blame society all we want, but it falls back on the individual. Be proactive in your successes. Fill up that toolbox, but don’t let it overflow.