A message from graduating senior-Alexa Dickinson

In the fall of 2013, I came to UCSB undeclared and without any ideas about what major and career I would pursue. As all current and former college students know, people start asking you questions about what you’re going to do with your life about a month before you graduate high school and don’t stop until you have a full-time job. This was rather troublesome for 18-year old me, as I didn’t have a clue where I was headed.

Now, I am finally about to walk across the commencement stage and can give a definitive to all the people who asked me what I am going to do with my life. Starting this summer, I will be doing marketing for T-Mobile at their headquarters in the Seattle area. My path from “what the heck am I doing” to “okay I know what I’m doing” was very complicated, somewhat stressful, and a lot of work, but here are some of the key things I learned along the way:

Be Fearless: College is a time to try new things, take chances, and make mistakes. I would have never guessed that I’d end up in marketing, but I decided to be bold and open in my search for a major/internship/job. When I applied to Career Services, I didn’t think I knew enough about careers to get the job, but I applied anyways. When I applied to my first marketing internship, I felt like I didn’t have enough experience to work at a big corporation, but I still talked to recruiters. When I declared the communication major, I only had one class under my belt and was unsure what the rest of the pre-major would be like. In all these cases, I put myself in positions that were out of my comfort zone and ended up succeeding.  Don’t hold back because you’re afraid, be uncomfortable sometimes and push yourself to try new things. Every situation has two outcomes: you succeed or you learn something. Neither of those should scare you that much.

Ask for Help: I didn’t start finding a major or career direction until I started working at Career Services and began interacting with resources. This isn’t just a shameless plug, I really think that the resources and services offered in the Career Center are integral to both self-discovery and career planning. Some students are scared to come in because they don’t know where to start, but those are the students who could benefit the most. As a career peer, I was trained to handle everything from “I have no idea what to do-please help me” to “I applied to X and have a specific question about Y,” so don’t worry about what stage you’re in, come get help every step of the way.

Network Constantly: When I started college I didn’t know anybody, so I decided to get involved so I could meet people. I joined a sorority and started volunteering, both of which led me to where I am today. The more involved I got, the more I met people who connected me with other opportunities. I got my job at Career Services because a sorority sister showed me the application, I got one of my internships after going to office hours for a professor who is connected to local companies, and I’ve had countless informational interviews with UCSB alumni. Get involved on campus, go to networking events, and utilize your connections while you’re in college. This is the ultimate time to build your network, as you’re surrounded my smart and ambitious people who want to see each other succeed.

Don’t think you have to figure out your plans right away or that you have to do it alone. Be strong, be open to new people and new ideas, and utilize the university setting as much as possible. Best of luck, Gauchos!

Alexa Dickinson is a career peer at UCSB Career Services