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Our Best Advice For College Students

Best Advice For College Students Emily Henderson Mistakes Not To Make 1d

I find myself wanting to stop, shake and shout life tips to every 18-22 year old I see. I made a lot of good and bad decisions that have led to my success (and perhaps were a hinderance at different times) and because of such I feel compelled to write a whole post for you. But why stop at just my experiences? I asked everyone who works for me to give their advice, too. These are practical skills, not just ‘Have fun!’ or  ‘Take risks!’. Do those things but I think this advice will make a huge difference in starting your career after college and managing your 20’s in the most productive (but still fun!) way possible.

Learn as many computer skills possible.

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I’m a Xennial which means I was computer savvy enough to start a blog, but ‘blogging’ is about where it ends. Unless you are going to be a doctor I’d say you should not leave college without at these skills: Excel, Photoshop, and basic HTML. Your first job post college will be likely be entry-level, and every single company in the world, regardless of what it actually does, needs admin, digital and social media help. You can’t get an admin job very well without excel, and knowing photoshop well enough to create flyers, manage a blog, send out newsletters, etc is super valuable. It’s the skills that many people in my generation don’t have, which make you super hirable. I have no doubt that you can handle a company’s instagram account, but if you know photoshop enough to do something really interesting with it (or even retouch photos), your value just increased and you became way less dispensable to them. If you have basic HTML skills you will rise faster and make more. I still get so many resumes from new students who just graduated with a journalism degree but don’t know photoshop and I can’t hire them. This goes for all the fine arts. If you are a voice major you need photoshop because you aren’t going to be paid to sing immediately but you can get a job at a music label in their marketing department, or work for a producer as an assistant if you have skills that can support that industry, even if they fall outside what you are studying. I never had these backup skills (hell, the internet was barely started when I was in college) and I would never hire me right now with my lack of skills. The world has gone digital, you better know those skills to compete. Your boss will most likely be my generation (or even younger) that expects these things, so just because you are studying history doesn’t mean you are going to be a historian – get yourself some computer and graphic design skills while your brain is ready to learn.

Document everything in an online portfolio.

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Set up a basic wordpress or squarespace site and as you finish something you are proud of, upload it. This doesn’t have to represent your exact style or the most perfect work, don’t be precious about it because you can ALWAYS delete it. But a future employer might want to know if you know such-and-such a program and you want to be able to say ‘yes’ and show them an example, even if it isn’t perfect or isn’t your style anymore. Brady, Sara and Jess all regretted not documenting so many of their college projects, and the best way to do it is an easy to make website that you update at the end of every semester. They have their own sites now to document their work (see above) but they all wish they would have started them sooner to document more. If you are a writer then start a blog, not to become a blogger necessarily but to have it documented where someone could read it. You never know who may read it and discover you. Plus it’s a super fun journal. In addition to this you will want to continually update your resume as things happened. Brady and I were talking about this yesterday and all through college he wishes he would have updated it continually rather than trying to go back and remember all the projects, accolades or jobs he had. This can either be done on your website or on a LinkedIn profile, but it should all be somewhere and there should be an easy way to contact you, should someone stumble into it and want to learn more, or better yet, hire you. In case you missed our first post on a “good resume” click through HERE.

Create a professional AND a private instagram account.

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If you are hoping to get a creative career then your ‘professional’ account should be work that inspires you – or your own work. I hired Sara because her instagram account was good. I didn’t even call her references. It’s a daily business card and marketing tool.

But let’s just chat about social media for a second. Never post anything on social media that you won’t want a future boss to see. I know you think it might be private, but just don’t do it. We will google you, we will see your FB profile pic and there are still many employers like myself who think an account full of selfies is weird and a turnoff, unless you are going into the modeling industry. A good friend was about to send the ‘we’d love to hire you’ email when she googled the person and she saw a side of her personality that was such a red flag that it was over before it started. Have two accounts, one for future employers or collaborators and one for your friends, but don’t trust that the internet will remain private. Make sure that you aren’t telling an inaccurate story about yourself online, no matter who is following.

Let yourself feel unattached.

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Listen, I know you have been together since Sophmore year of high school and that you really love each other, but it doesn’t have to necessarily end to feel ‘unattached’. Brian and I met when we were 21 so I can’t accurately say that you can’t find your partner when you are 17 (or 15, like my parents). But if you and your boyfriend/girlfriend are doing the long distance thing in college, make sure that you aren’t so busy being obsessed with getting their text message that you are missing out on the most crucial part of being in college – becoming independent (of even him). Now is when you open up, mold new sides of your personality that didn’t exist pre-college. You can try things that your high school friends would have judged you for, you can start taking certain sides of your personality more or less seriously because nobody is there reminding you of ‘who you are’. One of the reasons I moved to New York after college was because I knew that I wanted to be in the art/design field and I felt weird exploring that side of me in front of my high school/college friends that watched me get my degree in English.

Brian and I had to break up in our early 20’s because we felt that we just needed our own growth – it was hard to become adults with someone who knew the ‘old you’ watching the messy process. If you are meant to be, like us, you’ll make it (read about our ups and downs here).  I’m not saying to break up, just let yourself feel more unattached. Be independent, and don’t put all the energy that you should be putting into yourself, your classes and forming new friendship into a high school boyfriend 4 states away.

Work in the customer service industry.

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…even if it’s just for a summer. I’m talking restaurants, bars, cafes, hotels. Having a low-level job working with people. Here’s why:

  1. Your parents may have tried to teach you how to treat people, but it’s not until you are a waitress at a diner, being harassed, blamed for the food, ordered around, denigrated and generally sh*t upon as you are just trying to be nice and feed people, that you really learn the importance of manners, smiles and respect. You can personally feel the importance of those three things and you will learn to do the same to everyone else, regardless of how high or low their position is.
  2. Learning how to ‘serve’ all people in a friendly way will be good for your career. People want to work with nice people. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like friendliness and good manners. I would NEVER hire someone who was rude to a waitress, it shows that they don’t know enough about how to behave in this world. Because listen, we are all in the customer service industry and the earlier you learn that the better off you are. Besides …
  3. After college you may need to ‘find yourself’ a bit and having even one restaurant, cafe or bar job on your resume can help you get that filler job until you figure it out. I moved to New York and took classes during the day and worked retail with Jonathan Adler which as you can imagine didn’t pay my rent, so having that bartending job at night helped my career progress and stay afloat . It pays way better than minimum wage and you make new friends in new cities in a snap.
  4. Servers and bartenders are generally good at hustling and have a good multi-tasking brain. They tend to be good ‘managers’ because they have had to please so many people with different, albeit similar, needs at the same time.

Get an internship in your field.

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Future employers love interesting internships. It shows that you used your time wisely, were willing to work hard for very little and have been at the bottom of the totem pole. Two of my best friends packed their summers with business/marketing internships fields and now one of them is in charge of marketing for Nike basketball (as a 37 year old woman – unheard of). I had one internship for a gallery, but I wish I had known even what I wanted to do then, as I would have reached out and packed that resume full of interns (speaking of, how do we find interns who are in college in LA studying design?).

Side Hustle.

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They say that millenials don’t feel satisfied unless they have a job AND a side hustle. This is that thing you are doing on the weekends that you love, that feeds your soul and honestly makes you a more creative person. Start learning the art of the side hustle in college. Sure you are getting your degree in marketing (GREAT CHOICE) but that doesn’t mean that on the weekends you aren’t shooting fashion, or creating a you-tube channel where you do fake interviews of old TV characters. Could be anything that gets you excited to be productive and creative – this will set you up for success and you will look more interesting to a potential employer, meanwhile kickstarting your freelance career.

Attend the discourses or talks in your industry.

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Those optional Friday 9am guest lectures can be super valuable in both information and connections. Professionals (in any field) have valuable wisdom that you don’t have. Listen, take notes and let their experience influence yours. And if you find that they really resonate with you, reach out, tell them why and offer to assist them in any way. You or your parents are probably paying a pretty penny for this education, so reap the benefits of a higher education by getting an even higher education from the professionals already in your industry. 

Get on top of your finances.

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I wouldn’t know anything about how to do this – I paid for school and lived month to month, penny to penny, but Sara, Jess and Brady all had GREAT advice. 

  1. Set up and use program like Mint that keeps track of all your purchases. I asked Sara why she did this and she said that a. she had to for a class (PARENTS!! MAKE YOUR KIDS DO THIS IN ORDER FOR YOU TO GIVE THEM MONEY!). And then once it was set up she felt empowered by knowing how she was spending money and could adjust once she knew that she was spending $80 a week on coffee.
  2. Start building your credit by getting one very low-limit card. Purchase one thing a month and pay it off. Brady set one up in college just to pay for his car’s gas and then paid it off in full every time to help him build his credit slowly. Don’t do what I did and get a $1500 card that I forgot about, then move and not forward your mail and then have that card go to collections only to ruin your credit for 10 years and even have it effect it to this very day. That is what NOT to do. But also entering the real world without any credit will make getting an apartment or a car really hard (even with a co-signer).
  3. Get everything on auto-pay. I know a lot of college students don’t have “bills”, but hopefully some of you do and if so making them manageable will reduce the possibility of defaulting, meanwhile reduces the stress of ‘gah, have I paid my…. bill this month??’. Most banks now have programs that allow you to setup autopay all from your account and manage it all in one place.
  4. Start a savings account for both traveling, special splurges and emergencies with apps like Digit. It takes a nominal amount out of your account each week, based on how much is in. Some weeks it might be $20 and some only $2 – with the point being that it’s small enough that you won’t notice, but meanwhile you are saving.

Study Abroad.

Advice To My 20 Year Old Self Travel Cheaply

This is a major regret of mine, see more of my thoughts on traveling HERE. I thought I couldn’t afford it but I should have gotten an extra student loan. The opportunity to actually live in another country doesn’t come up very often post college. In college you have no attachments, jobs or probably kids so this is your chance to really dive into another culture for 3 months or longer, and you may not get this chance again. Nobody in the history of time has ever said “I wish I hadn’t lived in Italy when I was 20”.

Explore your hobbies and commit to figuring out how to turn one into a career.

I always tell people – ask yourself what your favorite thing to do on a Saturday is, because that is what you should be doing all week, 9-5. The earlier you figure what that thing is and how it could be a career, the happier you’ll be for the rest of your life.

Now hit the books (and call home and say hi to your parents :))

Now we’ll open it up to you guys – what is your best advice for kids heading into (or back) to college? What do you wish someone would have told you? And in case you missed “Dissecting the Good and Bad Resume” or “Travel A Lot, and Do It On The Cheap” be sure to click through to read more.

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  1. Emily, this is an awesome post. I teach interior designs students, and I shared it in their facebook groups.

  2. As a 53-year old attorney who is looking ahead to retirement, not just starting out, I read this with great interest. And it all sounds exhausting! Granted, I no longer have the energy of a 20-year old, but it does seem very hard to be a young person today. It seems like there is so much more out there that one feels pressured to be part of.

    I would add two pieces of advice to this list: 1. If you are earning, save money for retirement sooner rather than later, even if it’s a very small amount. It adds up later. I know too many people my age and older who wish they had done this. 2. Enjoy the journey! Youth is too often wasted on the young. It’s actually true that you will look back fondly on what seem like difficult times when you are going through them. Instead of always focusing on what’s next, take some time to enjoy the now.

    Love your blog, Emily. I discovered it after you were a recent guest on a Washington Post home design chat. All the best.

  3. I love this! I have a daughter leaving for college in 2 weeks so your timing was perfect. Good solid advice. I can already hear myself repeatedly asking “How are your computer skills?”

  4. I’m like you, I’m a Xennial. and all of this is such amazing advice. I wish i had this type of advice. the two things i regret the most — not interning throughout college, and not studying abroad!

    1. Same here. I had a job in college and I was interning in grad school, but haven’t done enough fun or experience building things earlier on. I wanted to study abroad but the cost scared me off. That would have been a good experience.

      I’d also add, do something fun (or unrelated to the career you want to have) earlier in High school. So many kids (myself included) were focused on good grades in science and math, and didn’t take music or art in high school. At this point I regret it, and I believe I could add those two courses to my schedule and wouldn’t be overwhelmed ,especially in my last year.

      1. It’s so funny because I had ‘have fun’ at the end but I assumed that everyone has so much fun in college and it didn’t feel really like ‘advice’ that they needed. In fact the first draft of this post was all photos of me in college, with a bunch of girls or guys and all of course taken out at parties and I was like …. hmmm… these photos aren’t really aligning with the advice I’m trying to give. So YES have fun, nows a good time to do that, but of course be safe and don’t squander the four years of getting a great higher education.

  5. Wow, that was great.. I’ve been out of college for two years now, but this would have been so helpful to hear then!! But since I’ve only been out of college for two years, I can definitely still apply some of these tips now!

  6. I am a recent college grad (age 21) and these are all GREAT tips! I studied interior design and now have a full time job working on commercial design projects. I loved my design school education, and it has definitely helped grow my passion for all things architecture + interiors! Just curious – what did you study in school? And how did that help get you to where you are today? (Perhaps this thought could be elaborated into another post as well!) Thanks! 🙂

    1. Emily stated in this post that she majored in English.

      1. I should write a big ‘how I got here’ post. I’ve spoken and written about it so much but never in one post. If I could go back I would have tried to find what I loved to do before I got a degree in english/history. But that was before the internet, I was from a small town, and I literally didn’t know that interior designer was an ACTUAL job and obviously ‘blogger’ didn’t exist. I would obviously do things differently, but I sure did love literature back then and I think I wanted to go into academia …. ha.

        1. Actually now that I think about it, despite my lack of consistently good grammar I do write 3-4 hours a day, so I guess that degree at least taught me how to tell stories and write in my own voice, etc …

          1. Ah! I did wonder when reading this “I thought I remember reading a post long ago where you said you studied history?” But you double majored, so now that makes sense! 😉

          2. Betting that your degree also taught you how to organize time, meet deadlines, set priorities, think critically, etc. You are not only learning the subject matter with a degree!

          3. I would love to hear a summarized version of how you got here and lessons learned. I absolutely see how your English degree influences your writing for the blog today, as well as communicating your design intent through all of your content. Thanks for sharing your voice and inspiring us!

  7. I fully support this post, there is a lot of excellent advice! I definitely agree that everyone should have to work a job in the service industry, but I wouldn’t necessarily stop at the front of the house. Yes, that’s where you make more money, but working a job in the back of the house (kitchen) teaches equally as important skills. For one, you’ll learn how to cook! It also provides a tremendous sense of accomplishment and immediate gratification to take something raw and turn it into something delicious. Furthermore it provides excellent stress management coping skills, and multi-tasking skills. You will emerge with a whole new respect for how much effort goes into that Instagram-perfect croissant/quinoa bowl/pho/whatever. Plus you’ll be able to turn your left-overs into something new and tasty!

  8. Nobody in the history of time has ever said “I wish I hadn’t lived in Italy when I was 20”.

    Except maybe Amanda Knox.

    (Sorry couldn’t help it! : )

    1. Best comment of all time Elle!!!!!

    2. I had the same thought 😉

    3. haha, that’s exactly what I thought! 🙂 but still great points!

    4. So funny. Thanks for this 🙂

      1. OMG. I just lol’d which is terrible because man, that was a bummer of a situation. Did you watch her netflix documentary??? I’m going to edit that to say ‘Argentina’. Whoops 🙂

        1. Make it Paris. Paris is beloved. I totally regret not studying abroad. I can travel now (at 45) but back then the cost was overwhelming. Now theres a ton of options for traveling cheap and financial aid for studying abroad. No excuse kids!! If you do nothing else on this list (which has tons of good advice) go abroad.

          Location matters very little. Being away from the familiar in a place where their normal is not your normal is what matters.

          1. “Location matters very little. Being away from the familiar in a place where their normal is not your normal is what matters.” SO TRUE

            I was able to travel at low cost twice in college through partially department-funded plans (Fringe Festival for 2 weeks in Scotland with the Theatre department where I worked in the scene shop, and Turkey for 1 month with the Honors Program). After college I got a high paying, sucky job as private caregiver [not my strength but I could do it short term] for 8 months to save money to go live in Australia for almost a year, this was the plan BECAUSE IT IS EASY to go abroad before your jobs, relationships, children are locked in! I had a job in Aus at a bistro, another thing from Emily’s list worth doing, which was owned by Israelis and staffed by 20 years olds from around the world. India, Fiji, Swedish, Danish, English, I was the only American.
            Leave the country for a while, young people.

        2. Great post! One of the best… and,on a side note, I was living in Italy when Amanda was… she kinda killed the reputation of any American living abroad

    5. And Meredith Kercher, who, for some inexplicable reason, seems to get forgotten when this case is mentioned. Please could you remove these comments and the ‘LOLs’ – whatever the truth of the case, a girl was murdered when spending part of her degree in Italy. Not especially ‘LOL’ or relevant to a design blog.

      1. yes, especially because here in Italy everyone thinks that Amanda did it (a sad sort of the O. J. Simpson case actually).

    6. OMG Elle, I said the same think out loud while reading this.

  9. Not studying abroad is my only regret from college, so totally agree!

  10. Wonderful post full of such valuable advice! It’s so easy to let those years pass by without making the most of them. Wish I would have read this 15 years ago!

  11. I agree with all of this advice. One thing you can do (at least, I did this when I was in college 10 years ago) was get a credit card in conjunction with my parents. Basically they added me to their credit card so I could build my own credit without the risk of having my own card. I was only allowed to use it when I asked their permission, so mostly I just had my name on their card and never used it. Still, it built my credit for when I graduated and got my own. This only works if your parents are good at paying off the credit card, of course!

  12. This is wonderful advice. As a fellow Xennial, I wholeheartedly agree with all your points–and so wish I had more computer skills beyond the basics. I’d add to the computer thing–learn how to manage and organize the files/data on your computer. Delete, archive and back up. We have SO much digital info that it’s just as important to organize as your kitchen pantry or linen closet.

    1. ^This.

      1. GREAT point. I’m terrible at that. Everyone around me is horrified and I’m constantly asking them to reforward me emails. SO annoying. Great point.

  13. I’ll add another comment: Since this is so helpful, the next post in this series could be advice for young professionals and new grads. How/when to start saving for retirement, understanding your insurance needs, managing your bills and basically how to become a fully functioning adult. The learning never ends!

    1. It really doesn’t end. Every day I learn something new that I’m supposed to have as a business owner and adult. I know there are handbooks out there, but I think crowdsourcing it and putting it all together would be helpful.

      1. I actually put together a “life skills” course for my two sons a couple of years ago. We required them to give us two full days and I prepared a binder of information on all sorts of things ranging from cooking, cleaning, laundry to insurance, investments, mortgages, etc. Frankly, it was an exhausting couple of days while we plowed through all the stuff that we thought they should know but maybe hadn’t picked up on intuitively. They’re now 21 and 24 and have mentioned more than once on how helpful it was. They both kept their binders and say that they still refer to them! BTW, I forwarded them the link to this post!

        1. This is a great idea. Luckily my parents were very big on this, but I was surprised at how many people in college didn’t know how to sort laundry or even handle basic finances on their own. Later on, I had to urge my working friends to contribute to their 401k and explain the benefits of compounding interest. I think many assume it’s intuitive as you mentioned, but it would be very beneficial to have this as a high school course or even offered earlier.

        2. Oooh, I’d be interested in specifics on your course and binders if you’d be willing to share.

    2. My advice would be: save for retirment from DAY ONE. Sure, you may not be able to save 15% like you are supposed to but you HAVE to start early. Retirement is non-negotiable, you will need money when you are old. You will always have bills (student loans now, vet/pet, mortgage, childcare …); the bills will NEVER stop when you are an adult. So make retirement savings NONNEGOTIABLE.

      1. Agree 100%

  14. This is all excellent advice; I couldn’t agree more! I graduated last year with degrees in Psychology & Neuroscience and am working in the research field now, and all of this is still incredibly applicable, even for those of us who don’t work in the creative industries! Learning Excel and HTML has been huge for me; those skills are not only important to my job, but have set me up to be an employee that’s very difficult to replace.

    1. Such a good example. You do not need to want to be a graphic designer to get those skills. We live in a digital world that will only get more and more digital, and everyone needs those skills to be as successful as possible.

  15. Such a great post, full of good advice! You asked ” how do we find interns who are in college in LA studying design?”, and I wondered if you had contacted any of the college departments directly? At my university years ago, there was a person in each department responsible for connecting students with internships. That’s how my husband actually ended up in the company he still works with now! It’s not in design, but hopefully there is a similar system in place for those students as well!

    1. This is a GREAT suggestion! I would definitely contact departments at local universities! (Marketing, graphic design, interiors – or whatever you may need!) I just graduated from interior design school and our department receptionist was ALWAYS forwarding emails from employers who reached out to the department who were seeking internships or full time positions.

    2. My husband works for the same company he did his engineering co-op with during university. He has been with the company for over 20 years now!

    3. This!!! My husband’s company reaches out directly to the marketing departments at the two universities in town. They’ve found a lot of great interns that way, ended up with some great full-time entry level employees, and even found some more experienced freelancers among the faculty.

      1. I’ve tried!!! We contacted Otis and Arts college in Pasadena and nobody responds. If anyone has a contact at any art/design school (or school that has a design program) please send my way. I would love to have an intern actually in college for part time experience. We used to but they were also post-college and would quit the second they got a full time job, understandably, but it made it kinda exhausting to try to train, etc. So having someone for a summer or 2 days a week for a school year would be pretty great (for both parties).

        1. Do you only want recent grads? There are many, ahem, older than that who have spent time (either underemployed, bored mid-career, or stay-at-home-but-now-they’re-older) learning new skills.

        2. Try Emerson College LA Campus! (Main campus Boston)

        3. I’m in LA studying visual communications (people study this to become stylists, set decorators, etc.) at The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchadising. I put in my resume for the junior design assistant but would be an intern in an instant!

        4. Emily, history prof here — reach out to other departments! our students have a lot of the skills and interests you want — they’re just also fascinated by, say, the Bolsheviks or the Ottomans. (though I guess working for you they’d need to know about ottomans? sorry, dad joke)

        5. Ha! Probably because they have creative people in charge of it rather than practical, business-minded folks. 🙂 My alma mater had the same issue in our theatre department until they moved the theatre person to another position and got a non-theatre person to work on getting students internship opportunities.

  16. Can I go back in time and take this advice please? Trying to figure out how to use it now in my mid-30s! A little behind the game :/

    1. Emily,

      In the same boat here. I happened to have been lucky to build my credit and study abroad, but as I look forward to a career pivot I am working toward some of this advice:

      -setting up an online portfolio
      -taking a basic HTML and computer skills course (maybe a night class or weekends depending on your availability)
      -looking into a “side hustle” which seems to be code for a passion hobby?

      It’s not too late for an internship or to be a bartender, either, depending on what your home life looks like.

      XX,
      K

  17. I just forwarded this to my sister – who at 44 is starting a new career – a design career. Although I know this advice is likely meant for younger students, I definitely see it applying to my sister as well. Things have changed so much over the years, it’s good to know how to do college in 2017. And it’s so valuable to know how one can get potentially rise above the masses – even if it’s something as small as learning photoshop.

    1. I even feel like a lot of this could apply to my 12 (*gulp) almost 13 year old, especially that social media thing. Just things for him to think about.

  18. I agree with most of this until we get to the bottom and finances, which is where I think a caveat is needed for people who are living paycheck to paycheck. I say the below in the hopes of saving someone else from some of the grief I went through.

    I do not hate autopay or automatic savings accounts if you have a comfortable balance in your checking account. However, setting up autopay is a terrible idea if you’re living paycheck to paycheck because of bank fees. If you overdraft, there is going to be a fee for that, and a fee for having a below-minimum balance, and then other fees after that (at least that is what happens if you have BB&T bank). Some bills, like car insurance, are large sums of money, and banks deliberately will alter the sequence of your payments to increase bank fees (I don’t have time to explain there here, but it is Google-able). Also, as far as credit cards, setting up autopay for the minimum due is way too easy, and then you get suckered into interest charges.

    Speaking of banks, I think there needs to be a recommendation in this post about banks – try to use a credit union if possible, and do not use the university’s bank (I know it seems convenient, but that bank works in the school’s best interests, not yours).

    Speaking of budgeting, you mentioned Mint, but Every Dollar is another good one to use.

    About setting up an automatic savings account, again, that is a terrible idea if you’re living paycheck to paycheck (see above regarding overdraft fees). If you are really living paycheck to paycheck, you probably don’t have enough money to save, at least not for on going on a vacation. For emergencies, yes, you should have a savings fund for that (and only that, not splurges), but you should work quickly to build that fund (not slowly, like rounding up in an automatic savings account would do). If you’re really budgeting wisely (like using Mint or Every Dollar), then you know exactly how much money you have to spend or save, and you don’t need the lazy man’s approach of an automatic savings account.

    About studying abroad, I was with you up until the EEK moment where you said you wished you took out an extra student loan. No, no, no. Student loans are bad, and having more student loans than necessary is even worse. If you can’t work enough OT or cut back on spending in other areas to afford the trip, don’t go. I wish I had gone abroad too, honestly, but I am having a hard enough time paying off student loan debt as it is. It’s been more than a decade and the loans still persist.

    1. I don’t think all student loans are bad. Some student loans have subsidized interest and deferment. What Emily essentially said “I regret not investing in myself more” when she said that she regrets not taking the loan. I did that too when I decided to stay in my school as opposed to studying for a semester or two in Australia, which I really wanted to do. That would have been expensive, but I made wrong assumptions about my finances and my parent’s ability to pay for some of that. I assumed it’s better to save than to experience something new. In grad school I assumed wrong again, that I don’t have enough money (and time) to spent the time with my classmates outside of school, going to restaurants, bars etc. I’m not a drinker and not a spender on things that are not necessities in general. And wasting an hour or two of my time on a commute since I was living outside the city seemed silly. I know why I did that, and I know I saved money because of that, but at the same time I know I wasted an opportunity to build valuable relationships with my classmates, which might have prevented me from landing a job or two.

      1. Everything depends on whether or not your investments pay off at the end. Education can be a ticket to financial stability, but it can be a ticket to financial instability if you spend too much on it, but fail to gain internship experience or don’t have grit or imagination to create yourself your own job and career. That’s not a criticism, that’s just self-realization that having grit and stepping outside of comfort zone are two most important things in any career. For some people it comes naturally, for others it doesn’t. Some people get lucky and they get recruited, other people have work hard (networking, doing side projects, making little money, taking risks) to get what they want later.

    2. I totally agree about the autopay/overdraft fees. Those did kill me as I lived paycheck to paycheck til I was 27. So I will edit that for sure. The student loan to study abroad I think is worth it. Granted things were way cheaper 20 years ago (DEAR GOD) but I think it wasn’t crazy expensive. I guess I just wished that I had prioritized it over other things, but I had to work all summer to pay for school tuition so I really didn’t feel it was an option. Anyway, I guess i’m just saying if you can swing it, DO IT, and make it a priority.

  19. I remember an assignment one of my boys got in a high school math class. Something like: Let’s assume you spend $3/day on a coffee drink…take that daily three dollars and put it in savings plan which you then use to open an investment account. Using the history of the stock market over the last 60 years, how much will that $3/day have amounted to when you’re 60 and ready to retire. And yes, BINGO, the answer yielded just over one million dollars. It’s TIME that works the magic. So please, please, please young people: save just a little in your 20s to establish the habit and you will love love love knowing you have the money to stop working when you want to.

    1. AGREED. I was so broke but it was more that I was intimidated by finances. Of course I could put $3 away a day, or just $10 a week, but I didn’t know how to or where to start (besides the savings account) so I didn’t. I think i would have loved DIGIT, where it does a tiny bit for you.

  20. yes, yes. YES. So great! I would add that any “customer service” related job applies. My first job in high school was in a restaurant, and I worked retail throughout college (and some after I graduated). I feel like those two industries teach invaluable lessons about how to treat people. Even to this day, I refold anything I’ve grabbed off the rack!

    1. OH yes. i’m going to add retail to that list. YES. I worked at rite-aid in high school as a checker and I learned how nice it was when people were nice to me as I was just trying to bag their goods.

  21. This is a very valuable list for any young person today – especially the part about paying bills and juggling working life while being pleasant to others. I am a study abroad advisor at a private university, and about half of the programs we offer, including flights, living, etc., are actually *cheaper* than staying on campus for a semester! Less than 10% of students in the U.S. actually study abroad, so a study abroad experience can help any person get an interview…

    Good job, Emily and team!

    1. Oh thats great to hear. I wondered because I think that studying abroad when I was in college was like $3k. It wasn’t that expensive!! Obviously at a private university its more (I went to U of O) but good to hear that its not wildly more than staying at school. xx

  22. This was all SUCH great advice. I’m a doctor and had a pretty linear career path and I still think all these things are true!

    One thing I would add – it’s stressful to constantly update your CV because it should be perfectly formatted and clean and organized. So I keep my CV but I also keep a document called “Stuff to add to my CV” where I haphazardly write down all the presentations/lectures/publications/posters that I do throughout the year with relevant details. Then when I do go to update my CV (at least annually) I can just scan through that document and all the info is there.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and life with us!

    1. I am 100 percent going to do this, because you’re right: the CV is too pristine! Thanks for sharing.

    2. Love this! My husband is a doctor and I am a graphic designer, and we recently collaborated on a lecture he gave about the benefits of incorporating design elements into a CV. The misconception about a plain black and white CV being best will hopefully start to be replaced by well designed ones that prove even doctors can and should be able to display a little professional creativity in their resume! 😉

  23. Love this post!

    As far as finances go, I wish someone had advised my husband to take student loans seriously. Specifically don’t take out loans to pay for a private law school when you don’t really want to be a lawyer (WTF?). The interest is more than our mortgage (THE INTEREST) and we will likely still be paying it off when our future kids are starting college.

    1. Oh geez. Yes. Brian regrets going to grad school. well ‘regrets’ isn’t the right word but it was an arts program (theater at NYU) and they didn’t set them up to actually make the money to pay back the $110k in debt. Sure, if you got big you were fine but that is a pretty huge burden for an average successful theater actor. I guess the point is, make sure that you NEED to go to grad school and aren’t just putting off entering the work force or relying on IT to make you successful. Some people need to, obviously, and obviously I think education is important, but take that decision seriously and don’t just rack up 100K of debt if you can try to get that experience and education actually in the field.

    2. ^I feel you. I too married someone who had insane student loans to become a lawyer. We were on income-based repayment and our minimum monthly payment was the same as our mortgage and it did not cover all of the interest (essentially, we owed more at the end of each month than at the beginning!).

    3. Diving into politics here (oops), but as a Canadian, it makes me so sad to hear these stories. In my opinion, everyone should be able to pursue a higher education, no matter how rich your family is, and no one should have to pay off student loans for decades! I’m sorry you all have to go through this. Here, education is so affordable that I was able to pay for my Invisalign braces during my undergrad.

      1. Inspiring to hear. Yeah education and Health should be worry free!
        Good job Canadians!

      2. Same here in Belgium (and in most of Europe basically). I don’t know anyone who has a student loan. Direct cost (tuition+books) for university is like max 1500$ a year. I studied in England for an entire year through the European Erasmus program and got a grant for that, which made my year abroad actually for free (including food and stay). Awesome.

  24. As a graphic and web designer, I second your recommendation to learn html and photoshop, but I’d like to elaborate a bit based on my own experience:

    – if you’re learning Photoshop, also learn Illustrator and InDesign. You’re probably paying for the Adobe Creative Cloud suite anyway. While you *can* technically make posters and such in photoshop, it’s really not a good tool for much beyond editing images. Illustrator is excellent for creating graphics, and since it uses vectors as opposed to pixels, whatever you create in Illustrator will be BOTH web and print compatible and on the whole much more flexible. InDesign is fantastic for any kind of typesetting. I use it for text-heavy pieces, such as my resume, brochures, etc.

    – on that note, I believe almost all creatives can benefit from learning a bit about typography. The type you choose for your website or your brand is a big part of how you express yourself, so follow some type blogs, buy some books, and study up. Also, don’t be embarrassed to search for popular typefaces or combinations of typefaces and use that as inspiration.

    – html is a great skill, but because technology changes so rapidly, learning ANY coding language will be beneficial. It doesn’t matter if you never use (for instance) javascript. Once you learn one language and become adept at the associated tools (the terminal, GitHub, a text editor, etc.), it will be MUCH easier to learn new languages. The key is to learn how to code and then to pick up the tools you need as technology evolves.

    1. Ha. I didn’t know there were so many languages, so I agree with you. I basically just meant ‘ learn backend computer languages 🙂

    2. PREACH. I’m also a graphic designer and occasionally have come across people laying out *books* in photoshop… learning the right tools for the job is essential and can save you so much time! Everything else you said is gold too.

  25. Great post! I graduated from journalism school 6 years ago and have been able to seamlessly navigate through several industries, finally landing on one I love, because I had so many skills outside of writing/reporting. My experience has been what you get your degree in matters little compared to what you can actually DO. Don’t feel limited by your humanities degree; if you can code, take pictures, write copy, etc., you are totally employable.

    Also with finances, don’t automatically take out all the loans if you don’t have to! Do the (tedious) work of scouring the Internet for scholarships and grants before you decide to take out loans. I hustled my ass off to pay for school and have so much more financial freedom without the huge monthly loan payment. Worth it.

  26. This is fantastic! I actually did get to do a study abroad program over the summer (12 years ago in college) and it CHANGED MY LIFE. I left as a quiet, small town farm girl and when I came back my dad said “wow, you have gained so much confidence.” Now when I have to do something out of my comfort zone I think, well I did live in Spain and it was incredible and as far out of my comfort zone as you can get. Easily one of the best decisions I ever made.

    1. That sounds exactly like me! Small town farm girl – off to France after high school. Wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.

  27. My biggest regret was to finish university too quickly! I took extra classes and did summer school in order to get my degree in 3 years instead of 4. In hindsight I should have enjoyed this time of independence, learning and freedom. I did my full degree abroad though, so no regrets there 😉

    I would also suggest to move away from home for university and learn how to pay bills on your own, look for your own place to rent, host friends, etc. Living at home might be necessary sometimes, but you can fall into a comfort zone of ‘mom and dad’ do everything for you just like when you were a kid.

    1. It depends on a person. I didn’t have problem learning how to pay bills when I was living with my parents. I still had jobs and internships, and I had a car to pay for, phone, and I travelled. I just didn’t have to spend on food or pay rent and other bills since my parents had a house already where I could stay. And they were happy to have me there as I was helping them with a few things as well.
      Living at home may be great, but doesn’t always save money or open up opportunities to do more in the long term. Commute to school/work can be tiring. One may not have enough time left to commute to see classmates and may loose out of networking. But it’s a choice everyone has to make for themselves. One has to decide which option will allow them to invest more in themselves.

  28. I just had my 18 year old daughter read this and she already set up an account with Mint! Thank you for posting this – she leaves for Hawaii Pacific University next week and I will be here in Rhode Island hoping she makes smart decisions all around. This was so eye-opening for her and I am grateful! Squeeze your babies tight – they grow up and move out so fast……….

  29. All great points, especially developing basic computer proficiency and being unattached. A few more I’d add:

    – Don’t be afraid to ask for guidance. This applies to both the academic experience (you’ll only become a better writer if you bring your paper to your prof for feedback) and the life experiences. Older people love giving advice and sharing their experiences, and this is a great way to get an extra hand along the way. It also will help foster deeper connections with professors/advisors/bosses, possibly even turning them into mentors. Just ASKING is what ultimately got me into some cool jobs (working for the university and at the local public radio station) and opportunities (special programs that I was unaware of before). Nobody can read your mind, so if you need something, ask!

    – Recognize that college functions both as professional (i.e. job) training AND personal enrichment. Often people focus on one path, eschewing the other. You can study microbiology with the plan to pursue pharmacy school, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t also take a 1-credit class in dance or learn about art history. Your job is, at the very minimum, the thing that will make you money — you should also be excited to develop a deeper, more aesthetically nuanced view of the world. (The reverse also applies, but I think you’ve succinctly addressed it in ‘even history majors should know something about photoshop’)

    – Save for retirement! Another commenter mentioned this below, and I can’t agree more. Go into a bank and ask how to set up a Roth IRA. Or set up a Vanguard index fund. Contribute $20 a paycheck or $20 a month. It doesn’t really matter how much, because as you earn more money down the line, you’ll start to contribute more. It’s an issue of starting early. It’s that compound interest lyfe, baby. (This also applies to jobs that require you to put in a certain percentage into a 401k or other retirement plan. Many will give a minimum, like 3%, and a maximum, say 7%. Opt for the largest contribution possible! You will adjust to whatever money you’re making, so the more you can sock away now, the better.)

  30. I’m an accountant (financial controller) and my husband is an accountant as well (corporate controller) so money is kind of our mindset 95% of the time. We use YNAB for budgeting (You Need A Budget) it’s the best BEST app for setting and achieving financial goals, consolidating your income, and accounting for your expenses. We have paid off almost $150K in student loans by working as a team and using this app. Both our parents never knew how to manage money and we learned the hard way. There are so many students in this same predicament, loads of student loans with no real path to pay them off. It’s so sad and I hope as a society we help young adults tackle this successfully.

  31. Nice article pure informative and knowledgeable thank you for sharing it. http://showboxupdates.co/

  32. Yes!! This is excellent advice! (And as a 33yo I have to say I don’t have an online portfolio and thinking that maybe it’s time I jump on that bandwagon. Eeek.)

    A piece of advice I tell students is to get admin experience if they can while they’re still at uni. It sounds less ‘fun’ than bartending/waitressing – not that it’s fun, but it’s what most people do and it sounds more exciting to be serving alcohol than dressing up for an office. But those 0.5 or 1 day a week jobs working at reception or admin person in an office (and you can get that even via temp agencies) will teach you how to be in an office, learn office dynamics, and that’s a great way to learn about mail merge/spreadsheets and other boring tasks. And by the time you start applying for jobs after uni, it’s such a plus on your CV! Even when we get interns, it makes it easier for us when they already know how to use things like Outlook/Excel AND they’re able to learn the interesting parts of the job so much faster because they’re not stressed out or bogged down by the admin side of things.

    1. I forgot to add that being thrown into the office world when you’re at uni is also a great way to gain maturity. It’s not always pleasant but it’s so out of your comfort zone when you’re a student, it forces you to ‘grow up’ a bit (in a good way). And that maturity is so apparent at job interviews!

  33. These are all amazing tips!! The second to last one is really, really true – studying abroad had the most profound effect on my life after college. I took my first photography class studying abroad, became a photographer in my mid-twenties, and then during my first year of working for myself, photographed the wedding of one of my friends who was in that photography class with me so it really came full circle. And yes, I took out a $10,000 loan that semester to do it, came back afterwards with only savings-bonds-saved-from-birth to my name, but it was infinitely worth every penny because it is the one thing from my college years that I can point to that has a clear line to my life today. I feel like this list is pretty comprehensive without being too preachy…you and your team did a fabulous job!

  34. Excellent advice! I would add that LinkedIn is actually a really useful and beneficial tool. Keep your profile updated, post photos of your work and include any and all jobs you have ever held. Just keep selfies and political links off your wall – you are there to promote your work. I am shocked at how many clients find me through LinkedIn because they need a freelance furniture designer.

  35. Studying abroad is great advice, but if someone can’t do it (financially or because of constraints of their major) try to just travel! There is a small window of time in your life when you can travel inexpensively. One plane ticket is manageable, budget hotels and hostels are acceptable! There are student rates (flights, trains, theater!) to take advantage of all over the world. Seeing how other people live will make you a more compassionate human being.

    Also – learn how to type with ALL your fingers, please! Typing is a skill you’ll use in almost every profession.

  36. I can’t agree more with interning. Intern until you can’t fit anymore interning. I ended up doing a weird thing and going back to college when I was 27. By the time it was time to intern my advisor gave me the option to intern rather than make it a necessary part of the curriculum and I opted out of doing it (I had a baby at the time) and I SO SO SO regret it. I also wish I took way more photoshop and CAD classes. I’m struggling and trying to learn on my own to get ahead. This is great advice and you should listen to Emily and her crew!

  37. Thanks Emily,my daughter is going off to college the end of the month. Appreciate the tips👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

  38. Excellent post. I so wish I was going off to college for a redo after reading this post. I was young, dumb, everything paid for (This is not a brag. It just highlights how bad I squandered how blessed I was…I fully work my tail off now) and had so much time on my hands. I thought I was soooo busy but truly I was just hung over and sleep deprived. I went to Providence College and I wasted so much time when I could have taken extra art classes at Rhode Island School of Design. Now I have to wait until my 3 kids are grown and out of the house before I can go back to school to learn what I love. I am going to forward this on and think this was a fabulous post.

  39. Agreed about studying abroad. I also chose not to go for financial reasons as well. Should have taken more school loans! Study in another country, is the only advice I would give someone heading to college. Oh, and go to class. Sounds so silly, but just showing up is more than half the battle! Fun post!

  40. Great advice! The only thing I would add is that HTML / Photoshop are great skills but really any coding experience is good. If know a little bit of Java or CSS or HTML, then put it on your resume. Also your level/experience with that language should be on there as well. Don’t over-inflate your skills but it is really useful to say you have a tiny bit of experience. Once you know how to code you can learn any language that might be needed. Even if the job doesn’t need Java, the fact that you know some Java signals to the interviewer that you could probably learn what they need. Technology requirements are changing so rapidly that at some point it does not matter what language you know (HTML, Javascript, etc.) but just that you know a little bit of coding at all!

    The best thing I ever did was take one single Java class in college! That got me my first job which I was then able to learn more skills and get experience in other things from that job.

  41. Youneedabudget.com is another alternative to Mint and I have found that it works so much better for me. Probably worth comparing the two but I know that both have phone apps as well as web platforms so you can access them anywhere. I wish I would have done this when I was in college but tracking all your spending really does help you make necessary adjustments. Wisebanyan.com is also a free investment program that I wish would have been available 10-15 years ago because I’d have so much more saved by now! Putting everything on autopay is the key to good credit. Even if you just set it up to only pay the minimum and then can go back and pay more later, preventing late payments is so important. All this is great advice! Thanks for this post!

    1. Oh awesome. Great advice, Thank you!!1

  42. Great post. I have something to add. I’m a professor at a university and I cannot stress how important it is for students to build relationships with at least one or two faculty members so that you have references for future opportunities. Students will attend my class all year, do great on the assignments, but never once raise their hand to speak in class or come to my office hours, and then will ask me for a letter of recommendation for grad school or a job. I can tell you right now that it is extremely difficult to recommend someone for a position based solely on a multiple choice exam or term paper– how do I know if that person will be a good coworker or a leader? So students– make a point of talking to your professors and making an impression on them.

    1. Extroverts and people who are highly ambitious (to the point they don’t necessarily do good work, but they will do whatever is necessary to climb to the top) will likely talk to professors and will make an impression on them because they will use others for their own benefit.
      Introverts and people who are a little more self-critical may be less inclined to talk to professors. As a student, I didn’t talk to professors enough. I was a good student and was active in class so that helped me. Outside of class, I didn’t want to bother them. I was independent and learned quickly, I felt I don’t need to talk to them because I’m able to grasp the content quickly and do well in assignments. Now I know it’s better to pretend at times that one doesn’t know everything and use that as an opportunity to building relationships. I get that now, but it took experience to become a college instructor as well as a manager, to understand what I need from students and interns. Please be less critical of those who don’t come to see you. Some people are shy, some simply feel they’d bother you if they went to see you.

    2. That is a great point. I’m going to add some of these to the post. Such good advice from someone who knows. 🙂

    3. There’s a book you’d love Emily called Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher. LMAO reading it.

  43. This is a bit far out, but if you’re hustling and earning money for college (which you should be — you appreciate your education so much more if you have skin in the game instead of having it handed to you), and if you have relatives who can afford to help you out? Ask them to fund a Roth IRA for you, for as much as possible based on your earnings. Starting retirement saving very young means interest has longer to accumulate.

    1. Ha. yes. I set mine up at 33. Sure wish I had done it earlier, but life didn’t let me 🙂

  44. Great post! I’m a millennial but this reminds me that I could use some better computer skills to keep up with my peers 🙂

    Re: study abroad: I specifically selected a college known for its study abroad programs, which charged you the same amount for tuition/room/board etc whether you were abroad or local (and student loans were dispensed the same). They also arranged for us to stay with host families (which is where the room/board fees came in). The only extra cost for my semester in Chile was plane tickets and the fun tourist stuff I did and absolutely do not regret paying for.

    So I’d say 1) if you know you want to study abroad in college, look closely into your chosen school’s policies on this because it may not be more expensive, and 2) even if it IS more expensive, it’s likely still cheaper to go through your school program than to spend 4 months abroad literally any other time in your adult life–so capitalize on it even if it means slightly more loans!

  45. These are so great! If only I could travel back in time and offer up this advice to my younger self. Instead, I’ll forward it to my younger brother who is about to turn 21. I agree with one of the commenters that is does sound exhausting to be a young person these days but hell I guess that’s just our reality. I’m 31 and am still playing catchup (as a journalist who started off in print journalism I’ve had to make a lot of career pivots to say the least lol) I think that’s always going to be our reality because the technology changes so fast and yet we’re expected to know it all. Sigh.

  46. i REALLY wish that i had read this when i was in college. literally every single piece of advice (except the service industry one) was something i needed to hear. UG. bookmarking this for like 15 years for my kids when they grow up.

  47. Oh my gooooooooood, I think I just had a mid-life crisis reading this. This advice is invaluable.

  48. Yes! I agree with all of these! After reading through your list, my husband and I did each of these things, except I never studied abroad, but I feel like we were so much more prepared for life after college because of it!

    Paige
    http://thehappyflammily.com

  49. great post -especially the finances part, there are so many good options these days for easily staying on top of your $$. I sometimes miss the freedom of college and being young but wouldn’t want to be under 30 anymore for anything… LOL!

    Also, I NEED that blue and pink + pineapple fabric in my life – any chance you could tag it or direct me to an old post?!?!!!! xo

  50. I wish someone told me all this, saving this for my daughter!

  51. I would add that if you can and your college offers it, enroll in a basic financial management class that can teach you about things like compound interest, savings management, retirement, and even HOW to pay your credit cards. For example, if you only pay your minimum credit card payment each month, you’ll never get ahead on the balance.

    I wish I’d known about those things when I was in my twenties, and unfortunately didn’t learn them till later.

  52. I think all of these ideas are great advice.

    The hard part is how do you convince a college kid to take them seriously?

  53. Amazing! Sending two kids off to college and one going into third… this is GOLD!

  54. I tell kids in college that every connection that you make matters. Ask people about what they do, share with them your interests. Start a LinkedIn page and connect! I’ve had interns who have never connected with me on Linkedin – some of them were great, and if they’d reached out to me after graduation I may have had a place for them, or known someone who did. Don’t let people forget who you are, and don’t let yourself forget who you worked with/for. Connect with these people, ask them to write you a recommendation on Linkedin. That way if you’re applying for a dream job after college, you may realize that your the hiring person is connected to 5 people that you’ve worked with in the past, and you may be able to leverage that you your advantage.

    1. Smart. The comments here are all great. This is one I will definitely be passing on to my kids (and their friends).

  55. I can think of a few others.

    1) Don’t graduate in debt if you can avoid it. And I don’t mean having Mom and Dad cover everything so that happens. Start at a community college and live at home, or take advantage of high school dual enrollment programs where you can start college in HS and get HS and college credit for a fraction of the tuition.

    2) Don’t sweat the timeline. This isn’t high school, where it’s awkward to not graduate with peers. Do what makes sense for you. Your grown up life begins now. If you can get that $ to travel/live in Europe by taking a semester off and working, go for it. If taking a full load of classes is too much and you’d rather take 2 classes and take more time to do well in them and work a bit more, do it. Folks don’t realize that most students don’t graduate in exactly 4 years–and a lot don’t graduate, or don’t graduate from the school where they start. If you don’t think you are on the right track, stop comparing yourself to other people or worrying about disappointed parents! Take time to figure it out.

    3) There’s a difference between a hearty challenge and being in over your head. Preview syllabus materials for a new class right away–if you find you don’t have the background knowledge to be successful, drop it. If it’s one you really need to take for your future field, don’t despair! Take a lower level class or prep for it during the summer. It’s better for your ego, your transcript and your wallet if you drop the class and even only get 50% tuition back vs. having to take it twice.

    4) Seek help early and often. My dad was very lonely professor during office hours…until the end of the quarter, when it was too late. Visit profs, even if it’s only to validate you are on the right track. P.S.– Interacting with teachers one-on-one is a good way to get a truly great letter of recommendation.

    5) If you aren’t sure what different fields really entail, job shadow and informational interview your butt off. You may be caught up in the TV fantasy of a job versus the reality.

    6) You DO have time for cardio and your brain and your body will thank you. Yes, even 5 minutes in the dorm stairwell right now. Don’t even change your clothes.

    7) While being able to switch between many tasks well is helpful, learning to focus and carefully complete the task at hand is essential.

    8) Sleeping and eating are not overrated and both will help you deal with whatever you are worried about.

    9) It’s cheaper, safer, and healthier to dance your butt off at a bar and let people THINK you are drunk than actually being drunk. That’s also how you get the best library seats for Sunday study sessions.

    And a piece of advice for us parents. Sometimes we think not paying for all of our kid’s college, makes us bad parents. But if your young adult is floundering, you will do them a favor by asking them to match your contribution or only reimbursing tuition when a class is successfully completed . Nothing gets a kid to be more honest what they REALLY want or need like spending their own cash. They will thank you later, even if they are jerks about it now.

    If you perpetually bail your kids out out by paying for stuff or trying to rescue them from challenges, you deprive them of the opportunity to learn from mistakes and trust in their own resourcefulness. You can still be there as a caring, friendly sounding board who listens attentively and expresses confidence in them. It may be very uncomfortable for you at first, but it will feel liberating with practice. Really.

    1. Wow, this sounds so knowledgeable, I like your advice especially the last two paragraphs. Since I’m the oldest, I did a lot for my self but not the case with my baby sister. My parents still pay her bills and she is 30. I also know so many co workers who have college age children that they are supporting without inhibition. One woman leased a 900 a month apartment for her freshman daughter off campus, (against this college’s rules for first year students to have) just because she didn’t like her dorm mate. I thought there’s people everywhere you won’t get along with now’s the time to learn coping skills, but it wasn’t my child. Anyway, I have a 13 year old and I want to be this strong.

      1. Yep. All those things I stated came from real life experience as a college student, former academic advisor, secondary teacher, and parent. Not to mention the fact that out of 5 college professor’s offspring, not one of us siblings graduated in 4 straight years–and 3 of 5 graduated from different schools from where they started. Too few people understand that’s par for the course statistically.

        For one’s own education, or a child’s, I’m not saying it’s easy to experience struggle. But few important life lessons ever are. But that struggle and discomfort can spark positive change.

        1. I totally agree with you. I paid for 100% of my own college. My siblings had to pay for the room/board but not tuition (i didn’t go to BYU so the rules were different for me). But regardless absolutely make your kids match you for savings or cover some portion of those four years. It’s easy to forget these things when you are a parent because it takes work on all parts to ingrain the kind of work ethic to support this idea, but I personally think its invaluable. Make them a part of it, earn it be satisfied by it.

  56. My respect level for you just increased…again!! I freaking love this list! I read every word and I’m in my 30’s. You covered everything. I love the customer service advice, it’s golden. Customer service is a lost art these days and a pet peeve of mine. It’s simply Do unto others what you would have done to you. I had a customer service job in my 20’s and it was good for me. Next, I love the financial advice, I have Mint and I too got a credit card, mishandled and it took 10 years to the number to clear. I’m finally in a position to buy a home again.
    You really touched me by saying whatever you enjoy doing on Saturday is what you should be doing during the week, I’ve put off my passion for so long. I want to start it. Finally, my biggest regret is not traveling abroad back then, I have kids now, but its still on my list. Great list, I have nothing to add to it!

    1. I DID study abroad and it was pretty great (think French alps about 15 years ago). I had decided I was either going to quit school altogether after two years of political science, or take a much needed ski break. (I know, I know, first world problems – but I still paid for it myself). Also, depending on your college or university, many have agreements with universities abroad where you pay the same tuition as at your regular school, so other than travelling to and from costs are comparable or even cheaper than many college towns in North America.

      You mention interning, which is great, but look into a co-op program that will provide you with experience and also PAY YOU. Co-ops were pretty new when I was in school, but before I even applied to university in 2001 it was my top priority. My parents (and I) were hella concerned I wouldn’t land a job with an arts degree, and rightly so. I knew a ton of people with fancy degrees and no practical experience. Having a degree, especially nowadays, means very little without some sort of experience. It also gives you a foot in the door and an opportunity to make connections.

      Be humble and grateful for every opportunity that comes your way – it will take you far!

      1. Sorry Gigi! I wasn’t trying to reply to your post! 🙂

      2. ooh, what is this co-op thing? will look into it now … thanks so much for your thoughful comment. xx

        1. Emily, when you wondered before about getting interns, one way would be through a co-op program at a local university’s design/etc program.

  57. Such a thoughtful post for current and future students. Nice job EH team!

  58. As a mom with 2 kids in college, this was excellent. What I always tell my girls: you need to be able to shake someone’s hand and look them in the eye. I worked in HR for years and was floored by how many people had not mastered this basic skill.

  59. Great post! Yes, yes, yes to travel: it always seems expensive and inconvenient, but it’s priceless.

    I would add: remember that there’s room for more than one person at the top. I turned away from a promising career because I realized that my classmate was better at it than I was, and I despaired, thinking, “Who would hire me when they could always hire her?” How I wish someone had reminded me that sometimes there is more than one spot available! How obvious it seems now. It took me 15 years to pick up where I left off, and I consider myself lucky that I got a second chance. Do what you love, do what you’re good at, get better at what you’re good at, and don’t worry if you’re not “the best” (whatever that even means). That’s what I wish I’d known.

  60. Also an Xiennal here. Ditto on the “learning about HTML and blogging almost killed me.”

    However, I do know how to WRITE, and amongst all the computer skills and other *of the moment* skills, I would advise learning how to write — perfect grammar, spelling, uses multiple voices l, and on multiple topics. You can get a job in almost anything if you can write well and fast 🙂 I didn’t have a marketing degree, it I was hired by top PR and marketing firms straight out of
    college with a degree in literature.

    1. But I obviously still have trouble typing on my iPhone without typos!😜

      1. I totally agree, but honestly if you were out of college now, in 2017, with your good writing skills but no web skills you may have not landed that marketing job. its totally different than it was 15 years ago, IMHO. Also I write things like ‘IMHO’ now, so theres that … 🙂

  61. This is a great article! The advice I always give is: study abroad, travel as often as possible to new places (during and after college) and live as cheaply as possible after you graduate. Just because you have a real job doesn’t mean you need real car payments and not share the rent with a roommate. That’s the mistake I made. I had a friend who continued to work a side job on Saturdays to get ahead of debt and savings. I wish I would have done that while I still had the energy and focus to stay that busy.

  62. Learn how to NOT spend money. A diet of Ramen noodle, eggs, pancakes and 99 cent frozen vegetables (or bologna and cheese, or peanut butter, or whatever) will not kill you for a couple of years! I think my 21-year-old son and his friends spend way too much of what little money they have eating out. We had fun trying to be inventive with a handful of super-cheap ingredients. Savory pancakes, with butter and adobo? Yes! Extra thick pancakes covered in peanut butter for a sweet tooth? Yes! Crack an egg into beef-flavored Ramen noodles and cut up one precious scallion? Delicious! I look back on those days with so much fondness, and we had just enough money left over to go out and do some traveling. We had junky hand-me-down cars, street treasures and milk crates for furniture, and crappy food. But we also had the satisfaction of not having to borrow money from our parents every month, and nothing feels better at that age in my opinion than a righteous sense of can’t tell me nuthin’! (And of course, you will borrow money from your parents. But let it be for something cool… not to eat mediocre food at the local Chili’s 🌶 every night. )

    1. Totally agree with all of this! Live on the cheap, get your hustle on waiting tables or whatever so you can save for what matters (travel, life experiences), and know that there is nothing so sweet (at that time in life and actually at every stage in life) as having your own money. Might be “can’t tell me nuthin’!” in college (gonna take that intership in Buenos Aires, off to backpack in Eastern Europe, gotta learn Chinese in Shanghai — see ya!), but later it’s freedom or FU money (freedom to take a job in an unknown city, leave a bad relationship, exit a job that is not working out, take time off, switch careers…)

  63. I think this is all good advice, but I have a bone to pick with internships, especially if they are unpaid as they so often are. Unpaid internships are often impossible for students from lower-income backgrounds who have to work during summers and after college to cover their bills or tuition. The rise of the internship heavily favors wealthy students and students who come from a handful of cities where most of the prestigious internships are and who can live with their families for free. Most people simply can’t work for free at a gallery or magazine or design firm (or whatever) and pay rent in New York. It worries me deeply that this kind of work experience is being rewarded by employers at a time of extreme income inequality and soaring social immobility. Unpaid and poorly-paid internships are also eroding decent paying jobs in many sectors, especially the arts and media.

    1. My thoughts exactly!

  64. Another character-building experience is driving a beater car. I am shocked at how NICE cars are in college (and high school) parking lots. Lets kids believe they are “all that” when they are just posers with their parents money (or more likely the banks money). I understand parents wanting to provide reliable transportation for their kids, but it should be UGLY, LOL. A little bit of embarrassment goes a long way in developing empathy.

  65. Great post! I really enjoyed it! Going to pass it on to my cousin who just moved into her freshman dorm–such a youngin!

  66. Yes yes yes! I feel like I checked all the boxes except study abroad. I really regret my last minute decision not to go (great internship) but my now husband went on the trip and we weren’t dating then and I’m pretty sure we would have never dated if we both spent a summer together….

  67. Yes to so much of this! Everyone should have to work in service for at least 6 months to learn how to act when things go badly. I’ve been reading a blog lately called The Financial Diet that’s been helpful, even for me who’s way past their average age. It has good links and information about how to manage money.
    One thing I would add is learn how to manage your health/well being. Knowing how to prepare simple, healthful meals will save a ton of money and reward you financially. I swear, they need to bring back home ec.

  68. My biggest regret was not doing a semester abroad. I changed majors and was concerned about graduating in four years. So dumb.

    Keeping on top of finances is huge. It’s the little expenses that get away from you. My roommate charged everything on a card she couldn’t pay off. It’s one thing to pay interest on the big things you need that take time to pay off. It’s another to pay interest on coffee and burrito purchases.

    I’ll add one thing to the list: birth control. Learn it, live it, understand how it works. Don’t rely on the other person to take care of anything. Take care of yourself.

  69. So glad wenn don’t have to pay for university over here in Germany (and most european countries). Also we actually get paid to study abroad at other european unis by the so called erasmus program for one or two semesters. Places are limited but everyone who wants to go somehow makes it, maybe not to their first-choice-country, but as you said: hardly anyone regrets their stay abroad.

  70. Love the advice to work in the service industry. 10 years out of school and it is still obvious which friends of mine have also worked service jobs when we go to dinner or grab drinks. Working in the service industry instills a humility that truly cannot be taught anywhere else. Spot on recommendation!

  71. I definitely second, third, and fourth “Learn as many computer skills as you possibly can”. I graduated college JUST before it was assumed that everyone knew HTML and Photoshop, and I can’t tell you how many jobs I have looked and thought “Gee – I’d be perfect for that – crap, Photoshop??” Not that it’s ever too late to learn, but it seems like something kids just know these days, and it definitely was not on par with Word and Excel as a must-learn when I was in college.

  72. Love this great advice! I would add Word and PowerPoint to your list of programs to learn. (Beyond the basics…know them in and out.) I would also add getting comfortable with public speaking…can’t tell you how many people I’ve met who are terrified to speak in public, even at a small client meeting!

  73. Fantastic post!! Speaking from the vantage point of 34 years, every point resonates.

    – Finances: Learn how to live within your means and track your spending. Do not go into non-vital debt. College is a huge one that CAN be minimized, by spending a year or two at community college and transfering, or applying for every scholarhip you can find and going with the most scholarship money. It has been a huge blessing not to ever deal with paying back student loans and allowed me a greater amount of freedom and less financial stress post-college .

    – Tech skills: YES. As a young 20something I was the only person on admin able to whip up well designed flyers etc. at my first office job and they really, really needed that. It was one of my more valuable skills for them.

    -Travel: Live somewhere foreign before you are married/with kids, it’s 1000x more feasible. Straight out of college I took a not fun, high paying live in caretaking job for 8 months, saved half of my pay, and went to live in Australia for a year (where I worked as a server at a bistro, also one of Emily’s points and also recommended by me!). I also traveled to Turkey (1 month) and Scotland (2 weeks) during college for relatively low costs with department-sponsored trips.

    -Learn your industry? I’m one of those people who never did and still doesn’t know what she wants to be. I got a well rounded education at a small liberal arts college where I majored in Theatre, worked in various non arts related entry level jobs, then after marriage & children am a homemaker, homeschooler, and part time weaver. What I did learn was that things I thought I would like, truly didn’t suit me at all. But I didn’t realize it until trying them and finding out it wasn’t what I’d thought in the day to day work. So internships, shadowing, or listening to industry speakers would have been great for figuring that out ;-P

  74. This is a really great post, one that I wish I had read when I was heading off to college and one that I will pass on to my daughter when she goes next year. With two kids in high school, I have to say that the biggest shock I recently encountered with my daughter (age 17) was that she didn’t know how to scan a document! Or even how to use our photocopier! I asked her, “what do they teach you at school these days?!?” She learned how to photoshop Shrek’s head onto Donkey, but that is as far as her computer skills go! No excel, no word… no real life enhancing computer skills. I was truly shocked. I remember in Grade 8 and 9 we were at least taught basic typing… now I guess they just figure it out. The other shocker for me was when I took my son to get his drivers license and they required him to write out his signature. He couldn’t, because he doesn’t have a signature. They aren’t taught how to do cursive writing in school anymore (at least where I live)… sigh. Not that I want to be one of those people who waxes poetic about the good ol’ days, but sheesh! Considering we are so life-dependent on computers, if they aren’t going to teach them how to write their names, you would think they would be taught how to type it!

  75. Not sure if you read all the comments but there’s a typo in the first section where you say ” leave college without at these skills”

    Oh man, now I’m one of those annoying commentors.. not my intention 🙂

    1. And then again in the next sentence, “Your first job post college will be likely be..”

      Ok, now I’m REALLY sorry.

      Love your page!!

  76. Thank you for all of this. My daughter is starting her second year of college in a few weeks. We have tried to lay the foundation for the financial, internship and courtesy part of it, but the advice about the website portfolio, tech skills building, and side hustles are all fresh and utterly new to me. Emily, you continue to deliver gold in visual, emotional and practical content. Wow-za!
    Passing this post along now.

  77. Great advice from the EH team and readers! I’ll add:
    *Consider studying another language, especially if you studied one in high school.
    *Travel around the USA! Drive to another city or area in your state; road trip to another state or region; spend spring break in other places besides beaches: national parks, state capitals, fun cities. There’s lots to see, experiences to have, and people to meet in our amazing, diverse country!
    *Volunteer in your community.
    *Exercise and learn a new sport!
    *Reach out to fellow students who might be lonely or not fitting in easily.
    *Attend lectures, exhibits, shows, and concerts.
    *Thank your parents frequently!

  78. Photoshop is not made for designing flyers, etc. Adobe Photoshop is made for photo editing. Adobe Indesign is the industry standard for page layout and is used by every ad agency and corporate marketing department. (I am a professional graphic designer).

  79. I love everyone’s comments! And Emily and team’s article is heartfelt and wise. I would add that there are some resources out there that can lend themselves to a young person who is getting to know him- or herself. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is one tool. And while I do not work for the Gallup organization, their Strengthsfinder test gave me huge insights into my personality and helped give me a deeper understanding of who I am and what motivates me. I took it when I was 46 and wished I’d taken it when I was in college. Just knowing my “top 5” strengths would have quieted my inner critic and helped me as I tried to find my path. Thanks to everyone for their advice and counsel!

  80. So much good advice! I’m 30 yrs old and have spent my career working with older adults. I’m going to STRONGLY second an earlier comment – save for retirement! Even if you start super small. If your employer offers retirement benefits, you better be doing all you can to max out your contribution. My generation is likely to face retirement without social security benefits. Even if that’s not the case, you will find your life taking a hard turn if you have to live off of social security alone. Seriously, start saving!

  81. Hi Emily!
    I’m currently studying interior design in college and I really loved this post! It was a big help and I’m certainly going to try to use some of these tips in the coming year. I’d love to see more posts like this, specifically about finding interior design internships, building your portfolio, and getting started in the design industry. I’ve always been a massive fan of your work and if you’re looking for an intern next summer I’d be more than willing to help ya out there 😉 haha *sigh*. If only I lived in California. Anyways, thanks for being an inspiration to all us design newbies ☺️ OH and one more thing, I just borrowed your book from the library and I’m literally DEVOURING it! WE NEED MORE BOOKS EMILY. STAT. PRONTO. ASAP. ONE IS NOT ENOUGH. ok I’ll stop rambling now. If you read this far props to you 😂 ❤️

  82. I’m a junior in college studying art history and this is EXACTLY what I needed! I know I want to be in some creative field, probably with design, so this is so helpful! THANKS

  83. Thank you for writing this post! I’m actually struggling with making a career change at the moment, which is not as scary as it could be (I’m only 31) but I’m still struggling with how to start over in the midst of starting a family. I have a college degree from a great university but I wish there had been more representation for creative based careers when I was younger because I’m only just now realizing that I was meant to work in the interior design/styling world. I didn’t even realize it was an option until I was almost done with school. If you write any more posts in this arena I would love some advice about this!

  84. Than you Emily. this is help me in future .👍👍👍👌👌👌👏

  85. “I wish I hadn’t lived in Italy when I was 20”- said by no one except for Amanda Knox

  86. Love this, especially the specific advice on gaining computer skills. It frustrates me as I get a lot of students and graduates apply to work with me and they want to ‘see how a design studio works’ and ‘be in a creative environment’ but they don’t think about what they actually do to contribute to the business. They have no idea! I need people with sick skills to get work done. Plus it’s never been easier to educate yourself with online tutorials in EVERYTHING. I would be so tempted to send them a link to this article, ha!

  87. You Need A Budget, YNAB, is free to college students. Similar to Mint but instead of telling you where you spent all your money, you decide before you spend it.

  88. Loved this post!! (my mom sent it to me via Facebook lol) I’m glad it’s not too late for me to follow these tips! As a rising junior studying International Studies and Arabic, I have found that I am becoming increasingly interested in learning more about marketing and developing my technical skills. My state university limits the many technical classes to engineering and graphic design majors so I was wondering if you had any advice on how to productively try it out on my own? I am planning on taking a coding class for non majors this upcoming semester as social media and technology is something I would love to try and incorporate into my in-major studies.

  89. Great advice! I would like to add that being knowledgeable with the computer stuff can be a double edged sword. When I first started working in interior design I was eager to impress my bosses with my quick 3D rendering skills. It was definitely an advantage that helped me land jobs pretty easily. But it also made me feel pigeon-holed in a way that I didn’t want to be. I always felt like my coworkers or bosses who didn’t have the computer skills got to do the “fun stuff” – working with fabrics and going shopping, etc. And I would get slammed with all the computer work because I was the one who knew how to do it. People who don’t have to work on a computer all day everyday don’t necessarily understand how tedious and soul-sucking it can be. I thought I signed up to be a designer and instead I felt like a robot. Ultimately I decided I don’t do 3D renderings anymore. I could also spend my whole career chained to the computer, but that’s not what I want. There’s also something to be said for focusing your energy on your strengths and passions and saying no to things you don’t want to do.

  90. Fantastic advice, I’ve just forwarded it to my niece starting uni this fall. How about a follow up column on how to act in your first job/entry level job? I just had a “discussion” with a new hire who I’ve walked in on several times as he was texting, feet propped up on the window sill, or eyes closed. When I confronted him he threw a hissy fit (slamming things around, mumbling under his breath) and stormed out of the office. I was all like, dude, you’re the one trying to get and keep a job, not me, if I’m busy, then you need to be busy.

    1. Yikes. One thing I learned from living abroad is that appearances REALLY matter. I think we have this American thing about, “I’m just gonna tell it like it is,” or “Why should I jump to attention just because my boss comes in? He’s a person just like me!” Yeah, yeah, yeah. If you look lazy, then you ARE lazy.

    2. Yes! Recent college grad guy in our office can’t understand why he hasn’t been promoted. Uh, dude, you eat a giant bowl of cereal at your desk EVERY DAY. Do you not think that reminds every boss in the office of their young children when they walk by you munching down on cereal? #nevergonnagetpromoted

  91. I’m in LA studying visual communications (people study this to become stylists, set decorators, etc.) at The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchadising. I put in my resume for the junior design assistant but would be an intern in an instant!

  92. I could prattle on about this topic for days, so I’ll try to edit myself.
    Point 1: if you own your own home, having automatic payments is okay. BUT, if you’re like me and move pretty often I would not recommend having automatic payments set up. There are frequently mix-up’s with billing, charges, etc when you move and once cable and utility companies have your money, good luck trying to get it back! At best, getting a refund is a long, arduous process.
    Point 2: and I think you addressed this somewhat when you talked about the “side hustle”–when you are a student, try to get as much experience or any experience in your field that you can, paid or unpaid. For example, if you want to be a teacher, volunteer at the community center helping kids with their homework. There’s two reasons for this: it looks great on your resume and more importantly, you’ll learn sooner rather than later if this is really what you want to do. You’ll learn the challenges and pitfalls before you are completely committed.
    Also, if you have experience doing the grunt work before you move up the ladder, it’ll make you a better coworker and/or boss. I worked as an intern a few times, and my problem, even way back then, was that I acted entitled before acting entitled was cool (being entitled has never been cool TBH). So interns, even if you think your job sucks, you’ve gotta be gushing with helpfulness and enthusiasm. “Take out the trash? Sure! Walk the dog? You betcha!”

  93. Love this post! My oldest is going into high school next year and I plan to implement the credit card with low limit and have her spending tracked by MINT so that she is watching her spending and learning how to pay off her credit card on a monthly basis.

    My only add to the finances part is that there are conscious about splitting their money into sharing, saving and spending. My kids get allowance and we always ask them to split the allowance so that they have money to share for charities, money to save into their bank account and money to spend. Thanks again for posting this!

  94. Excellent advice for anyone. Brilliant.

  95. I always love your posts! Thank you for another great one. I had to share the highlights with my husband. It made me think back on my experiences and now looking forward to my son’s. I wish I could bookmark this article for 16 years.

  96. what a fantastic FANTASTIC post! i am an “old” millennial, and can see such a difference in computer skills between myself and the younger staff at my architecture firm. i also teach 4th year interior architecture students, and their skills vary WIDELY – so i hope they read this and realize i’m not crazy when i tell them to make a website, learn the ENTIRE creative suite, try new modeling software on the student version while you can, etc.

    sidenote on college and finances. my parents set a cap on what they would pay (which was less than what they could pay according to whatever weird magical math the government/universities do) and made me aware when i was in 10th grade. they encouraged me to use this to make an informed decision. my dream school (out of state, private, expensive cost of living) would not meet the gap, since i did not technically qualify for the need-based money (as i shouldn’t have). so i decided to go to a much less expensive state school in a small town and graduated with MONEY IN MY POCKET. part of this was working within my budget, part was working every summer and most semesters (while being able to study abroad – agree on that point 1000%). this meant no student loans and the ability to take a job i wanted, rather than one i needed. it also allowed me to travel in my 20s. i am so grateful to my parents for teaching me this lesson. they took a similar tack for my wedding… and i eloped and got a check : )

  97. Dear Emily,

    Very good advices!!! I wish my girl (she’s only 2) will use her time wisely to strive for her success. I think it’s not just career but it’s to build her own identity and herself in a wise manner!!!

  98. I’m heading to college in a few weeks and this was such a good post to read! Really want to make the most of the 4 years there and thoughtful advice like this is so helpful!

    Rabeyah | @rabeyahn
    http://byrabeyah.blogspot.com/

  99. Great advice! I would underline the computer skills. Learn programming and engineering. These days even the most creative fields rely on tech to design, 3D product models, project apps and the ability to analyze marketing data on the fly. Do the math and you will make 3 times the salary as you work your way up.

  100. This is so good, Emily! I’ve been out of the workforce for 10 years raising kids, and I’m thinking about jumping back in again. I’m not sure yet if I should try to rejoin the technical field I was in before or just go for it in a creative field. Either way, this is great advice.

  101. If I may add a tidbit of advice, it would be to diversify your work experience throughout college. I took a great opportunity for a co-op position (working with the same company 4-5 semesters alternating with school semesters) and ended up working for that company for the next 8 years after graduation. While it was a good opportunity, and certainly provided stability during a time when many of my fellow classmates were unable to find work (graduated in Spring of 2008, just before the economy face-planted that fall), it really has shaped my entire career, so much so, I find it difficult to branch out from the specific niche I am in. The gist of it is, if I could go back in time, I would choose to do multiple internships at different places, to make my network of connections and my skill-set more diverse. In a creative field, a lot of the tactical and technical skills my fellow classmates and I learned were at our internships and co-ops, so diversity in that regard is highly valuable.

  102. Great post!

    I am wondering…can you do a post on choosing exterior paint colors. I have a bungalow with wood siding (painted white with teal trim) and light gray stone. There are currently decorative shutters, but my husband wants to remove them and put a wider trim around the windows instead. I am finding it hard to find much advice on the interwebs. 🙂

  103. I love this! Sent it to my niece who is just starting college this fall. Very different world for their generation, this seems so practical and on point — and resonates with what I look for for interns in my own office.

  104. This is such a great post, it’s all so true, esp regarding getting a job in customer service — I have always said this! I believe everyone should have to work in customer service in some capacity, just to cultivate some empathy towards others.
    Trust me, you will never snap at someone working a cash register once you’ve worked Black Friday sales in a retail environment, or worked as a server in a restaurant on Mother’s Day, haha!

  105. Forwarding this to my 17-year old daughter IMMEDIATELY. Advice is always better when it comes from someone who is not your mom;-) Quite frankly, these are great tips regardless of your age. And some of the comments had great ideas too. Thanks for the info!

  106. I was trying to think of anything you hadn’t covered, and just kept going back to my first day on campus when my dad (a professor) forced me to get an email address. (Fellow Xennial up in here!) I very vividly remember rolling my eyes and saying something like, “SERIOUSLY. I’m never going to use that.” Kind of the same response I had when he forced me to take typing in high school. You know, totally useless stuff. Heh. Honestly something else I wish someone else would have pressed upon me was to follow my gut. I started as an interior design major right out of the gate, but I’m terrible at math and needed a LOT to graduate with a design degree. I had an advisor tell me I’d be better off switching my major than trying to tackle it all. My advisor! So I switched to English. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve always loved to write and have been a marketing/advertising writer for the better part of 15 years now, BUT, I regret changing my major instead of digging deep. Design has always been my first love – the thing I don’t mind doing at midnight or on weekends – and I knew it even then. So instead of following my intuition and taking the risk to fail then, I’m doing it later in life; trying to get my design business off the ground while also working full-time, being a wife, mom and consuming exactly 427 cups of coffee a day. I mean, I’m all about the side-hustle, but hot damn it would’ve been easier to do in college!

  107. Excellent advice, especially regarding networking / attending outside discussions and finances. I will be sharing this with my senior students a month or so before graduation. Oh, and like you, I definitely don’t regret living in Spain for 4 months in college or in Japan for a year after graduating – best time to do it!

  108. Definitely good advice. Not to be a downer, but I’d also say student loan debt is a burden (especially if it takes a few years to do what you went to school for/make a salary that can pay it back regularly) and that I would recommend to every freshman to take a Finance 101 class their first quarter of college. I think it’s disastrous it isn’t a requirement in high school, regardless if you go to college or not.

  109. Thank you for this great post! As a 36 year old stay at home mum that just started studying again, this is super helpful. Sorry if I missed this in another comment, but what would you recommend is the first and best interior design specific software to learn? Which one would give me the best chance at an internship?

  110. Has someone already said this?

    Take notes by hand; leave the laptop at home. So many studies show how much richer the learning experience is and how much more information “sticks” when students take notes by hand and ditch the laptop. Comprehension is way up, too.

    And I don’t know if I’ve read a study to support this, but certainly I am more fully present in a lecture when I am device-free.

  111. A great read and good advice! I would just like to add a different point of view on the advice to sign up for auto pay for your bills. This got me into trouble right out of high school. Not having much money, the auto pay hit the account and there wasn’t enough to cover it. All kinds of fees were charged and it was a huge hassle. So I don’t actually recommend it for kids newly on their own. I love it now, because I don’t have as much danger of being low on funds.

  112. careful with apps (your personal data is not yours it becomes the app’s) and automatic payments (they can cost you $) &4expl. you may need 3 days to “make rent” and if the withdraw is programmed … no can do … the result can be a costly overdraft in money and stress … …

    .use Excel or a hand drawn budget sheet … and an enveloppe with sub-dividers with CASH$!
    Emoney is easy to spend … and leaves your perso data trail e.ve.ry.where … careful …

    what worked 4 myself:

    .do secure a crédit margin with a safety deposit

    .get a credit card with a min annual fee that you can reload from your phone/bank account to track your “frivolous/indulgent (fun! 🙂 )” spending under control and (somewhat) personal scrutiny …

  113. Thank you for this! I start my first of architecture school on Monday and will definitely be referencing this.

  114. This would have been relevant for me YEARS ago…I am happy I can share this with my children and family members beginning college/young adult lives, way more funnier though…(I don’t care if that is correct grammar).
    Thanks!!!

  115. Great advice!!!! I’d say the only thing I’d add is – invest. Even if it’s just 20 bucks a month, that money will grow and grow if you don’t touch it until retirement. I wish someone had told me to do it!