How To Get Something Out of College (Since You’re There Anyway)

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I went to school to become an accountant. I knew I loved money and budgeting. I loved planning and business.

I did not love T-Accounts. I do not like long hours and I really hate busy season.

I wish I would have known that.

It would have made the years after college much better. It would have made the years in college better as well. 

You see, I picked my major because there was a poster in the computer room in high school. It was one of those posters with the pretty script that said something about lots of money, good jobs and at the bottom it said, “Become a CPA.”

I went home and asked my father who, God bless him, never worked as one, but knew his boss had one. So, told me all he knew. Good job. Good money. Well at 18, that pretty much sold me — and off to college I went.

When semester one ended, I knew I had a problem. I hated T-Accounts. Everyone in my class drew them, used them, and discussed them.

I didn’t give a damn about them. All I cared about was the bottom line. This was not helpful in accounting class. Yet, I still really liked business, so I stuck it out.

That was until I got my job at a big four accounting firm and realized that long hours meant that you didn’t go home. I mean, I liked the people I worked with, but not enough to eat three meals a day with them for 7 days a week.

So again, I thought back to what I liked. While in college, I was a resident assistant (R.A.) and I really liked helping my students on the floor make decisions about life. So, why not become a teacher?! I did not think about having to write up lesson plans, screaming kids, unreasonable parents, and changing directions with each new government administration.

That being said, at the age of 28, I have some advice for those of you just starting out —

1. Don’t spend your summer working a job that has nothing to do with your future. If you aren’t interested spending your summer working in a hospital, you probably won’t like being a doctor. I am just saying.

2.  Spend your school year talking to other people in the career field you want to go into. Shadow them for a day. You may learn a lot.

3.  Just because you like something, like money, doesn’t mean it is your future. I like teaching, but don’t like crying kids. That makes for a real long day in teaching.

4.  Work for a year before going to school. So many kids go five years or have to go back to school later because they didn’t know what they wanted. Do it once. Do it right. It’s an expensive mistake if you screw it up.

5.  Listen to your parents. They did the whole working thing. If they hated it, you probably will to. Go a different way.

6.  When you’re there, be there.  So many kids go to college, but they aren’t there mentally. They don’t show up in the library, the classroom, or the study hall. They are at the pub, the concert, or playing Xbox in their dorm room. One day, they wake up and have to go to a job — and they have no idea what they are doing.

7.  Take advantage of everything. You have to take electives. Take them and invest in them. I took a theater class. I figured, who cares?  Today, I get up and put on a whole show each day to get 24 kids to think math is fun. I think about that theater class 30 times a day.

Anna Domzalski is a staff writer for Financial Bin covering Budgeting, Wealth, Education, and Real Estate. Have a question for Anna? Email her at [email protected]. (Image: graur codrin /
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