Erin Hessler '15 reflects on her time on campus - and gives her advice to the class of 2017.
1. Study Abroad/Alternative Spring Break
Longwood offers plenty of domestic and international trips. You can also earn credit through third party organizations. When I went to Costa Rica to study economics, it was the first time I ever left the United States.
It opened up the world for me and I got credit toward my minor. Since then, I've visited 11 more countries and now find myself travelling consistently. You'll meet people you never would've otherwise known, gain valuable travelling experience, and retain course knowledge more easily than you would in the classroom.
2. Spend a summer in Farmville
This is one that I never planned to do, but I am so glad I did. I completed an internship on campus during the summer between my junior and senior year. Of course, Farmville was a lot quieter than normal. But, a few of my friends were completing research or taking courses so we got to hang out in our free time.
I have such fond memories of relaxing on campus, seeing professors out at dinner, and getting to know the town better. It was a great summer and, truly, it was the last one I had without all of the responsibilities that came after graduating.
3. Go to a group fitness class
Honestly, just take advantage of the health and wellness center while you are there. It's included with your tuition, so don't take it for granted! I can't tell you how much I miss having all those resources available to me for "free".
It wasn't until I was a senior that I really started to take advantage of the group fitness classes, but I wish I had started earlier. I usually made it to spin class at least once a week. It was always great to see the same people, get a good workout in, and relieve stress. You will thank yourself later for the healthy habits you start now.
4. Take a class that's not for your major
When I was a junior, I took a social media course purely out of interest. I didn't need the credit for my degree, I just thought it would be good for me to try something new. It turned out to be one of the most beneficial courses I ever took.
I still keep the website I made for the final exam up to date and it actually helped me land a few job interviews. Pick anything that interests you and give it a try. It will keep you well rounded, help you gain some perspective, and remind you that learning should be fun.
5. Ask for recommendations
If you're anything like me, you will spent more time polishing your resume than studying during your last semester. A big part of that is having people to list as references. When I first started the job search, 4 out of 5 of my reference contacts were Longwood faculty and staff that I felt knew me well.
It's important that those people can speak to your particular strengths and give specific examples as opposed to sharing generic compliments that could be said about anyone. More importantly, try to make sure at least one of these people is a mentor to you. I had strong relationships with a few professors and advisors. The time, advice, and wisdom they can share is so valuable. I still keep in touch with them now to share my successes and failures in the real world.