Opportunity Taken

By Gisselle Hernandez, Features Editor

Earlier this year, I wrote a column on the pressure Racers – and any recent graduate – go through after they walk across the stage when their names are called: finding a job. The average job hunt for recent grads are from six to eight months, a pretty daunting length of time when you have student debts to pay. 

Though I’m sure many alumni do end up finding a light at the end of that eight-month tunnel, there’s an opportunity a lot of students might overlook that may help in their job search later on: putting yourself out there.

In the aforementioned column, I spoke on how little perfect grades matter to potential employers, and I’m once again here to cement that idea. Whether it’s internships, part-time jobs or volunteering to work on a big project in your field, having a few experiences under your belt perhaps will value much more than a 4.0.

This summer, I was blessed with the opportunity to work for a public relations agency in New York City. Needless to say, it was the best summer for my life. Living in one of the greatest cities in the world may have had something to do with it, but nevertheless the action itself of putting myself out there proved beneficial not only for me, but for my colleagues as well. At Murray State, we better ourselves, but, as the new slogan suggests, our university grants us opportunities to develop our skills outside of campus as well. We just need to look for it.

Many of the students in my department were also granted the opportunity to intern as well. Some of them even got job offers from the same companies. I was able to push myself more than I ever thought possible, and I came back more driven than ever, I think. I often hear the phrase “no one can steal your education away from you,” but the same goes for the experiences and values you learn that aren’t situated in one small campus. You can ask any of those Racers who interned for the summer and most of them will tell you it will probably be their fondest memory at Murray State.

Though different departments have their own internship programs or opportunities to grow outside of the classroom, many students are not aware of them. It might be difficult seeing the importance of them at first, a waste of time even for some of the international students who will eventually return home, but you can’t learn everything within 258 acres (no offense, Murray State.)

Taking your skills – and developing them – off-campus doesn’t have to be like pulling teeth. Ask your professors about any internship opportunities, do your research online for part-time jobs in your field, take on a project in extracurricular clubs. Potential employers will appreciate seeing you experienced in hands-on projects as well as your abilities in the classroom. Of course, you can’t expect for the internship to easily land in your lap. You have to chase it.

Putting yourself out there doesn’t necessarily mean finding an overly-expensive internship thousands of miles away from home. It can simply mean taking on some project to challenge yourself that you won’t be doing just for a grade. After all, isn’t that why we attend Murray State: to take the opportunities that are afforded to us?