The straight A: Application (part 2)

In the interest of staying on track with the subject of this post and what I had meant to discuss, I’d like to explore what some of the skills that college had taught me (academic and extracurricular) in terms of the 6 aspects that gets one hired, and their corresponding direct application to the real world. Focusing on a few skillsets and how they passed through the “transformative moment”, I will illustrate how I’ve turned knowledge into a function that I will continue to take with me as I progress in my career.

Awareness of the image you present— I used to think that if I take too much time styling my hair, meticulously selecting the clothes I wear and adding makeup to enhance my features, people may think I’m vain. Then I started noticing the way successful people around me dressed– my professors, academic counselors and administrators– they all had perfect hair, a clean look, and well-pressed clothes. Others look up to them. I realized that how I present myself is a way of communicating myself to the outside world, and that I can choose how I’d like to present myself and what I’d like to communicate. I’d like to communicate to others that I am presentable and I can do the work. This means doing away with tattered jeans and sloppy shirts even if they may be fashionable. When I’m at the mall or doing something more casual, maybe I can wear jeans. But when I’m in school or meeting with someone to talk about school or career, I have to wear a pressed shirt and a pair of slacks.

Writing – My love for writing led me to major in English, where I studied not how the English language works, but literatures and thoughts developed through its usage and distribution. In the beginning, I wrote because I was tasked to so do by professors and the curriculum itself. When people asked me classes I have and what I do in school, I tell them, “I write.” I started thinking that if I write so much, then I must be called a writer (and people around me called me this already). Yet, I know I can’t just start calling myself a writer— that would be presumptuous and if everyone who had written before so much as a sentence and started calling themselves writers, it would dilute the honor bestowed to the profession. So I sought ways on how to legitimize myself as a writer. I expanded my writing knowledge by exploring writing in different kinds of avenues and about various topics. I wrote for the school paper, in the news, arts and features sections. I handled editing and managing responsibilities. I wrote, wrote and wrote, not because that’s what writers do, but because that’s what I needed to do to become a writer. Writers can call themselves so, only when they practice the craft. I also became more aware of the related skills in proximity— I learned online media, and I wrote in and about that space. I asked myself, what is online media and why is it different? Who is the audience? Then I wrote articles that I knew would be published online, and wrote them in a way that would be geared towards those who would visit our website and read about our articles. By doing so, I also knew that I would be helping to achieve the goals of the newspaper organization in moving the newspaper towards complete digital publishing.

Acing midterms and finals – Assignments, midterms and finals in the life of an English major consists of turning in essays after finished presentation after another. Submitting one essay to another for five classes in a given quarter, meant producing 10 essays that had to be 10 pages each or more. I never missed a deadline, because I feared the repercussions of not turning in assignments on time. I never understood my peers who would ask for an excuse the day of the deadline, having to negotiate with the professor about how much the penalty and mostly receiving a decision that the most they can have on an assignment is a B. I learned that when I’m assigned a task, I have to deliver and move on to attain bigger responsibilities, or face the consequences of having people doubt my abilities.

Research – Writing a report and turning it in are the easiest parts of an assignment. The hard part is doing the research, in refining an idea and knowing you can fully support it well enough to be able to communicate it to others. This means qualifiying books and articles, speaking with professors who are knowledgeable about the subject, and investigating concessions and dissenting thoughts. This is where patience counts, because so much of it is methodological. There’s a systematic way to research, to process information and to present your findings. You don’t have to be in a scientific field to realize that there are many other applications of the scientific method (Ask a Question,
Do Background Research, Construct a Hypothesis, Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment, Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion, Communicate Your Results). Analytical methods serve as an anchor to creativity that make for a more orderly, effective presentation.

Leadership When I was thrown into a pool of intelligent, motivated and extremely talented individuals, doubts about my skills crept in. Everywhere I look, everyone was assertive, and seem to know everything, or at least communicate their ideas well enough that it seems like the right idea. It challenged me and threw me off balance. I realized that I had to adopt a new attitude, instead of alienating myself from them. I started looking at the issue in a more positive way; if I engage myself with smart, assertive people, I can get pointers from them in order to develop myself. They can motivate me to lead others eventually, even if I don’t think at the moment that I can do it. Having the right attitude makes life a lot easier, and encourages people to seek you out.

Joining organizations on-campus I joined a lot of campus organizations in college, initially because everyone was doing it. I thought it was one of those things you do in college. Then I realized joining even one club is hard work; you have to attend meetings, deal with the leadership, be there for other members, plan events, seek resources, etc. What encouraged me to continue joining organizations was growing pains– I was away from home, I didn’t know a lot of people yet, and needed a place that will cultivate the skills that cannot be learned within the classroom. I’m glad I sought them out, because they served as support networks and avenues for further opportunities and learning.


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