As college graduation is rapidly approaching, I find myself reminiscing about my time here at Princeton and all of the great experiences I have had. I remember when I was a freshman, I made a list of all the things that I wanted to accomplish while in college. Now, after four years, I cannot say that I have checked off all of the things on my list (I have yet to travel through the steam tunnels or steal a campus flag), but I still made quite a large dent. Even more interesting though, are some of the things I did that were not on the list-such as change my major 5 times, eat at least once at every eating club, and go sky diving.

Though the accomplishments that didn’t make the list may seem silly, I have come to realize that some of the seemingly ‘irrelevant’ or fun things you do on campus can lead to major life and career decisions later on. For example, had I stuck with the first major I declared in sophomore year-Politics, I might have been swayed by other Politics majors and friends to intern on the Hill over the summer, instead of taking my first internship in Los Angeles at a production company, and beginning my love for media. Eating in every eating club also forced me to branch out socially, allowing me to meet twice as many people as I would have had I simply stuck to my meals at Tiger Inn. Knowing people from many different social circles has helped me this year as Annual Giving Co-Chair as I reach out to the entire Class and solicit pledges for Princeton’s Annual Fund. And finally, on a whim, I went sky diving last year after finals to celebrate the end of junior year. Having never done anything ‘crazy’ before, diving out of a moving airplane showed me that not only could I be spontaneous and adapt quickly to sticky situations, but also that I could survive almost anything, whether it be plummeting towards earth or a bad grade on a paper.

The point I am trying to make is that ALL of your experiences matter and they are all…priceless. What you do now shapes who you are and who you will become. Trying new things at Princeton can lead to greater confidence and more informed decision-making in your future.

I give you three examples of personal friends:
Talia Kwartler ’12 never thought she would study abroad. However, discovering her love for the Italian language at Princeton, it became readily apparent to her that she would need to study in Bologna, Italy in order to perfect her conversational skills. While abroad, Talia studied Italian paintings and used the material she found abroad to help write a successful Junior Thesis. Her knowledge of art and her abroad experience also made her a top candidate for the Peggy Guggenheim Collection Internship in Venice, Italy, which is one of the most coveted internship positions in the art and art history world. Her experience at the Guggenheim will help her immensely on future graduate school and job applications within her field.
Annie Shapiro ’11 never thought she would be tapping into her dad’s professional network, but when her father met the CEO of LearnVest at a networking event, she jumped at the opportunity to meet with the founder personally. From that informational meeting, Annie was offered an internship, and then another for the next summer and school year. Finally, as a senior she has been hired full-time upon graduation working directly with the CEO on product development and marketing.
Michael Keaton ’11 has always been passionate about entrepreneurship, but it wasn’t until this year that everything fell into place in a way that he believed he could execute. In one year’s time, he found a fellow Princeton student and business partner as driven as he, a simple idea that could be tested at low cost, and the time and freedom to be able to build a company thanks to Ed Zschau’s High-Tech Entrepreneurship class. When Michael experienced difficulties in coordinating group communication and events on campus, he took it upon himself to develop a web-based texting platform for student organizations called SwoopTEXT. In addition to letting students receive instant updates from their groups’ leaders, SwoopTEXT provides students with a virtual campus activities fair so users can actively manage their subscriptions to groups. As a senior, he has had more free time to be able to perfect his product, and is in fact testing SwoopTEXT at Princeton next month, with the hopes of launching in the fall. Michael credits his time at Princeton for providing him with the freedom, resources, partners, and test subjects to enable his initial idea to morph into a full-fledged company.

As my time as a Communications intern for Career Services is coming to a close, I want to be able to capture the stories of some of my classmates, to hear about your experiences at Princeton and how they may shape your future! This week, armed with my flip cam, I will be a “roving reporter” looking for students to interview for one of my final assignments. If you see me coming, please step up to share your story!