June 27 2022 08:00 AM

The college experience goes beyond passing classes – here’s my two cents on how to maximize your time in college.

My first time touring the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus. A gem that not many people picture in their minds when they think of this school.
In the fall of 2022, I will be a senior at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Go Gophers! I never thought I would be in the position I am today, looking toward graduation with real-world experiences under my belt. No matter if you are attending a four-year college, two-year college, or a technical program, there are things you can do to set yourself apart from other job-seeking candidates.

1) Don’t stress about your career choice right away. If you had a graduation party after high school, I’m sure you heard the phrase “What do you want to do after school?” far too many times. Believe it or not Aunt Susan, you do not need to know your exact future right away. That is the reason for taking introductory courses that cover many different topics. They help you find a direction and learn about careers you probably never heard of before. Figuring out the dream career often happens later in the college experience.

2) Join clubs or whatever group(s) strike your fancy. There is so much you can learn from peers and club advisors outside of classes. That extra time will help you learn about potential internships or jobs, the best classes to take, and the professor everyone loves. Best of all, you will create long lasting connections with people you share similar interests with. You will also find leadership opportunities, which will help you gain essential skills such as communication, organization, and how to work toward goals.

3) Take the class you know nothing about. In the lengthy class catalogs, you will find some random class title and say to yourself, “The study of what?” Challenge yourself by learning something new. Maybe it will be difficult, but you will gain new knowledge and the ability to go outside your comfort zone.

4) Gain experiences from jobs or internships. Employers value nothing else more than experience. You will be more employable when you bring prior experience with you. You do not necessarily have to already know everything there is to know, but a potential employer will see that you can complete a job and learn new things. Start small, even if it is an unpaid position, and work your way up.

If you are ever struggling with what to do next, consult your guidance counselor or the career and internship services office at your college. They are professionals at finding the right resources to launch you into your future.

Author’s note: Take this advice with a grain of salt. After all, I have yet to graduate and find a big-kid job to prove my wisdom.

Mikayla Peper

Mikayla grew up near Osceola, Wis. She discovered her passion for the dairy industry while working on her neighbors’ Holstein dairy farm. That spurred her involvement in 4-H and FFA, and following graduation from Osceola High School, she headed to the University of Minnesota to pursue a degree in agricultural communication and marketing. During the school year, she worked as a website designer for the University of Minnesota department of animal science, and last summer, she was a farmer relations intern for Midwest Dairy. Peper is serving as the 2022 Hoard’s Dairyman editorial intern.