When I was in high school I loved writing, seeing live music, and all of the business aspects of the music industry. My dream was to become a music journalist and a promoter for bands. My plan was to graduate from high school, go directly into college, major in Journalism, and somehow come out the other end a successful writer for a magazine.
Some of those dreams came true in a sense while I was still a teenager. I wrote for websites, promoted my friends’ bands, and even went on the road with them a few times during summer vacations. I had some grand adventures. I also learned a lot about the music industry, marketing, and business in general.
The main problem was that I was never actually paid for any of the work I did. I put in long hours and was never compensated. As a result, it was completely unfulfilling and what I once enjoyed had ended in me being completely jaded and burned out. Because of this, I took a few semesters off after high school to collect my thoughts and figure out what I really wanted to do with my life.
During that time I helped my father grow his business. He is a consultant in the auto industry. A huge part of what his firm does is direct marketing. He also offers sales support for car dealerships. After awhile, I changed my mind about majoring in Journalism. Eventually I was drawn to the idea of working for a Marketing firm.
Studying consumer behavior, namely why people purchase the products they do, became insanely interesting to me. I made the decision to enroll in a Marketing program at a small private college.
I was lucky enough to go to a college that focused on creativity. Marketing programs are generally more focused on the stuffy business aspects of the sales process, but I was able to flex the creative muscles I always wanted to while I was in high school. I thrived and did very well in my Marketing classes.
A typical day in college revolved around creating ad copy for new products that myself or my professors dreamed up, creating market research surveys, and using Photoshop to create eye-catching ads for magazines.
My college required us to take a whole career preparation class. It involved teaching us how to search for jobs in the real world. They also helped us learn how to craft a stellar resume, cover letter, business cards, and letterhead.
While this did help in a sense, I honestly didn’t take the opportunity to reply to any of the job ads I looked up for class. It was essentially pointless because I didn’t know if I’d be living in the same area after graduation.
I am currently the Marketing Assistant at a consulting firm. It is much like the one that I helped my father run before I started my college education.
After graduation, a lot of my friends were completely shell shocked by the real world. Many of them were under the impression that having a degree qualified them to make a large salary. I worked a few lower paying jobs before taking on the one I have now. It took me a while to find this job, but I wasn’t nearly as selective as my friends were.
Gaining some industry experience before going to college really helped me adapt to the working world. College and work are similar in a lot of ways, particularly when it comes to social dynamics and deadlines. School can never truly prepare you for being out there on your own. College has a built-in safety net that the real world doesn’t allow for. It can take some getting used to.
Had I spent more time preparing for the transition from college to the real world, I think it would have been a lot easier. Having student loans stare you in the face is enough to crush your spirit and make you think a job search is futile. Having some money saved up certainly would have helped ease the transition for me.
The biggest mistake I made, even after taking three semesters off after high school, was going through college too fast. In the process, I racked up a lot of student loan debt. I really wish I would have given myself a few extra semesters to graduate. This would have allowed me to pay for more classes out of pocket. I could have taken on significantly less student loan debt.
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