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We're moving our new stories to Denison.edu, the college's super-sweet mothership. Over time, we'll be moving some of our best past stories from TheDEN over there too. In the meantime, we've made available an archive of all stories here. This archive will be available for a few months before this site is permanently shut down. See you at Denison.edu! - June 2016

Finding what I like—and what I don’t

Lauren Mueller '13

Everyone asks, “What are you going to do when you get out of college?” I always have some long-winded, complicated answer about philanthropy, grant-writing, and changing the world. I say, “I want to make the greatest impact on the largest number of people that I can.” It’s all true, but what it actually means is that I am trying really hard to figure everything out.

Students do so many things: class, leadership positions, work, internships—I’ve done them all, too. It’s teaching me what I like to do and what I absolutely, unequivocally, don’t.

I don’t expect that all students have the same experience, but this is my advice on making the most of your time as a student.

On Campus

My first visit to campus was idyllic: it was a beautiful fall day, warm sun and gently crisping leaves. I thought I loved it then, and I didn’t realize how much more I would love it as time went on. I also didn’t realize how little sleep I would get or how many things I’d want to do. Now, I know what’s important about my time at Denison.

  • Get involved, maybe even take a leadership position. I am president of Lambda Pi Eta, the National Communication Honorary. I can’t help but feel a little geeky, but I’m proud to represent my major and my fellow students. I love planning events and getting to know the other LPE officers, and being in a leadership position enhances my experience in my major and teaches me serious time-management.
  • Get some sleep. In the one psychology class I took, I learned that without enough sleep, the brain can’t properly process what it has learned. (Thanks, Dr. Matthews.) So, no all-nighters, and at least 6 hours of sleep a night. (Not enough, but at least it’s something.)
  • Find a mentor. Approach professors you admire and tell them so. Dr. Katz from sophomore-year political science gives me advice on what to eat for breakfast and listens to me whine; Dr. Russell in communication validates my personal stories; Dr. Gillespie in women’s studies taught me what privilege really means. Keep up with your mentors; they care about your academic, professional, and personal success. Don’t forget to write thank-you notes, and make sure they know how important they are to you.

In Class

As a communication major, I have, of course, taken many classes in the department. I’ve also taken psychology, photography, feminism, and many other courses. But only now that I’m a senior am I realizing what I actually want out of a class.

  • Personal growth, even if it’s hard. I had to write two autoethnographies last semester that were incredibly emotionally challenging, but so fulfilling.
  • Don’t overdo it. Don’t stay up until 4 a.m. trying to read 600 pages. Trust me, you won’t remember a thing.
  • Relax. The first course I registered for this semester: Yoga. I turned relaxation into a class because I have so little time to do it!

At Work and In Internships

Since sophomore year, I’ve worked about 20 hours a week off campus during the school year and at least 40 hours during the summer. This summer, I had two internships: one as a grant-writer and social media manager for Bad Girl Ventures, a nonprofit that helps women start small businesses; and another as office manager for International Financial Group. I also worked as a concierge at New Albany Country Club. Combined, I worked about 55 hours a week and took one week off. During senior year, I’ll continue working as a Communication Fellow, as the social media manager for Bad Girl, and as a concierge. I’ve learned an incredible amount from all of these positions.

  • Figure out what kind of company culture you like. Do you want to work with a team or alone? Small company or large? Need freedom to work outside of the office? I’ve found that I like to be around four or more people and don’t always work efficiently from home. Knowing this will help you choose your career.
  • Take time to yourself. Even though I work a lot, I make time for weekly yoga, read for pleasure often, and spend time with friends. I found that to be happy I need at least one full day off every week.
  • Don’t worry about it. I keep wondering what my title will be, what company I’ll work for, and where I’ll live. My internship boss gave me the best advice: “Don’t spend 50 percent of your time doing 5 percent of the work. Worry about the big picture.” Now, I’m focused on doing what makes me happy and trusting that my experience will find a home in a great career.

So yes, you’ll sometimes have a class you’re not crazy about, and you’ll sometimes be annoyed by professors and students alike. But if you embrace the challenges, you’ll come out knowing what you love. Bottom line: find what you’re passionate about, and go for it.

Categories: Voices of Denison
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Written By: Lauren Mueller '13

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