Making the Most of Your Time
In between busy class schedules (professors seem to be piling on the work, huh?) and much needed Netflix sessions, it’s important to stay motivated to achieve your personal and professional aspirations. Although this time is tough for so many people, there is light in being able to map out your goals and take actionable steps towards the future. These are simply suggestions on how you can make the most of your education, reconnect with your peers and passions, and develop your career. We welcome your ideas in the comments below.
1. Schedule weekly professional development meetings with your peers.
Just as you’ve been scheduling Zoom lunches and catch-up chats, setting time to work on your professional development with your friends will keep you all accountable. For an hour a week, these calls can serve the purpose to send emails, update your resume, or practice interview questions. Since you’re with friends, it’s a low stakes environment where you can trade networking tips or share the challenges you’ve been facing during this pandemic. If you’ve been telling yourself “I really must finish this cover letter” or “I need to start searching for a job”, then take action and set up a call with the friends who've been echoing these thoughts.
2. Make the most of your classes and start planning ahead.
We always hear that liberal arts colleges promote “learning for the sake of learning or doing,” and here is our chance to embrace this sentiment! Take 20 minutes to reflect on these questions, either alone, with a peer, or your professor:
How can you make your classes for this semester the best they can be?
Regardless of the grade policy debates, why did you take your classes in the first place and what do you most enjoy about them?
Are there ways for you to receive extra credit; have you asked your professor?
Do you have the time to go above and beyond in any particular projects?
In terms of planning ahead, think forward about the academic goals you want to achieve. If you’re a junior, perhaps now is the best time to reach out to professors and gain critique on your thesis plans. If you’re a sophomore gearing up to take harder major classes, reach out to upperclassmen who’ve just completed those courses. If you’re a first-year who is deciding between majors, create a document that maps out your 4-year academic plan. I know from experience that if you’re simply interested in a particular subject, professors (especially Literature ones!) will gladly call and discuss whatever you so desire.
3. Schedule calls.
Professionally speaking, scheduling calls is a great way to stay connected with people and make headway on your goals. The entire world is at home and online (hopefully.... they really should be) and are more receptive to answering emails and taking calls. Of course, everybody’s situation is different, but assuming alumni or professionals are open to connecting, try and chat with someone you admire once or twice a week. 20 minutes out of your day to learn about a new industry, company or role (think of it like an informational interview!) is time well spent, especially if you’re uncertain about your potential career path.
4. Online resources
You might be thinking “more online courses?! We already have school to deal with.” If your schedule is already packed, keep studying, the semester is nearly over! But, if your classes changed in workload, consider overloading with online courses or doing it just for fun!
LinkedIn Learning is free to all students at Claremont McKenna - get a certification on your profile!
Coursera - Coursera allows you to take their online classes for free; it’s ~$50 for a certificate, but simply knowing that you learned something is enough for many people!
CodeAcademy - it’s been around for as long as I can remember and I’ve never tried it out! Have you?
Some ideas for courses: teach yourself photoshop, become a certified workout teacher, learn Python/SQL, public speaking, video editing.
5. Revisit a hobby
My previous suggestions are fairly aligned with school and career; however, it’s really important to focus on your own interests and passions now that we have time to do so. If you love to paint, get out your sketchbook. If you’re a proud bookworm, read every night before bed. If you haven’t played tennis for a while, try and beat your siblings in a game. If what you love is TV, watch the first episode of the show you promised your friend you’d stream. Revisit these hobbies and if you want to make them into something more, there’s always a passion project hidden somewhere… (blogs, getting fit and documenting the journey, a reading and writing challenge, a cooking Instagram channel, etc!)