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Think Global, Act Local: My (Collegiate) Graduation Year Tool Box

Photo by Hillary Ehlen

Ambitious freshmen, proactive sophomores, lucid juniors and alerted seniors: Allow me to interrupt your chaotically organized lives to share with you six vital life tools for your collegiate survival kit.

Caution: This kit will help you surf on the waves of your collegiate years so that you can smoothly make it to the shores of this far, yet close nebulous new land called (drum-roll with Darth Vader’s theme song playing) “The real world.”

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1. Mindset

Collegiate years are meant to experiment with new, unexplored terrains of your life, therefore maximizing your time. Be bold, be curious, join clubs on campus if you like them or make new ones that others will join. These are the safest and best years because there is less at stake than in the “real world.” Explore, discover, fail and fail again, but learn from these failures that I call “postponed victories.”

One of my heroes, Nelson Mandela, once said, “I never fail, I either win or learn.” Self-assess permanently by making sure to walk around with this mirror of life that holds you in check.

Have the abundance and not the scarcity mindset. Think big, knowing you are one email away from anyone you want to meet in this globalized, WiFi-connected world we live in. Think of the people between you and whomever you want to meet, then start planning with paper on how and where you will meet this person.

Smart phones are more powerful than the 1969 rocket that landed on the moon. Imagine all the magic that you have handy, so whatever you decide to kick-start will first be in your pocket. In a 4G LTE-paced world, staying afloat can be a real hassle, however, if you nurture the right adaptive tool mindset, the sky is the limit.

2. Mentors

Seek out mentors on campus and off campus in a myriad of domains that interest you and will help you attain higher goals. You no longer have that organic “hometown” social capital, therefore you must create your own. This can be a professor, a supervisor, parent of friends, alumni, a coach, a spiritual leader–someone who can hold you accountable, expose you to opportunities, tap into your full potential and with whom you can build a lifelong relationship.

3. Internships

This is one of the best ways to get your foot in the door and make sure that you can gain so much exposure from good companies. Always remember that openings in any given company usually happen first internally. This means by already being in the company (even if you are just an intern), the chances are that you will be among the first to hear about them.

4. Volunteer

This is a character-builder and a great way to meet people that are like-minded. Often, professionals that care enough to give up their precious time for a noble cause will most likely have some extra time to take a driven student under their wing. What’s more, always know that it’s a friendlier platform to have an informal interview with your potential future employer.

5. “Know Thy Self”

If you look up on the world wide web, “Strength Finder,” you’ll find a great book and tool to better assess the different components of yourself in an intelligible way. The better you know what you can and cannot do, what areas you should improve upon and what areas you should reinforce, the faster you will advance in life. Knowing the appropriate jargon to utilize when describing oneself without quoting your parents, siblings or significant other makes it more professional in an interview or business casual encounters. You should have your “30-second elevated pitch” ready and a lifelong goal you want to achieve that keeps you motivated. The latter will help you answer the seemingly inoffensive million-dollar question: What are your plans after graduation?

6. Community Engagement

A mentor once told me that who you know is no longer sufficient, but rather who wants to know you. This mind shift for me was paramount! He urged me to nurture a magnetic personality around serving others first, showing up for others, being a team player, always being grateful of people’s precious time, self-discipline in life and remaining humble. I can ensure you that when a good reputation precedes you, it lays solid foundations for all the awaiting professional encounters you will make.

Voilà! This is my tri-collegiate community salute to you. I hope that you will add some of these tools to your personal toolbox and share it with others. Sharing is caring.

Alexandre Cyusa

Written by Alexandre Cyusa

Alexandre Cyusa came to the FM area in the fall of 2010 to attend Concordia College. Originally from Kigali, Rwanda, Cyusa has lived in Switzerland, Ethiopia, Guinea and France. His traveling experiences have helped him in making this world a smaller and simpler place to live in. He currently works for Folkways and is interested in community development and nurturing global citizenship.

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