Seizing opportunities fueled my ambition

Four college students holding notebooks and talking outside

I chose to attend a large university so I could capitalize on the immense involvement opportunities that were available to students. The amount of student organizations and diverse leadership roles that Florida State University offered was what ultimately influenced my acceptance decision. Entering college as a freshman, I was somewhat unsure of my major, so I wanted to learn in an environment where I would have multiple options to explore my interests. Not only did Florida State provide me with an extensive education, but it also opened doors that allowed me to grow as a leader, and form long-standing connections with my colleagues and mentors.

I was fortunate enough to work within multiple organizations and take on various projects and leadership roles throughout my undergraduate years. By doing so, I gained experience in event planning, sustainability projects, philanthropy, public relations, medicine, team collaboration, social media, and much more. Along with my education, these experiences are what have shaped me as a person, and furthered my career aspirations. As a freshman, I looked up to students who were involved, and leaders on campus. Being surrounded by individuals with a constant drive to be better instilled that same rationale within me.

I am a firm believer in seizing opportunities, no matter how uncomfortable they may seem. Some of the best experiences I have had all started with an initial discomfort. When I put myself in new situations, questions ran through my head constantly: Am I good enough? Do I know anyone else going? Will I have enough time for this? How does this help me now? Will people listen to me? These were just some of the doubts I had before I considered an application, went into an interview, or started a new project. Recognizing these situations as further learning opportunities, was what fueled my ambition. I learned quickly that if I set my mind on something, I needed to see it through, regardless of how nervous or unsure I was at the time.

Even when things haven’t gone perfectly, like a bombed interview, position rejection, or failed project, I have learned from it. Failure is unique because it encourages humans to analyze a situation in depth. Think about any bad grade you have ever received. You typically wallow in the initial pain, but then you go back to assess what you did wrong. This encourages a relearning that creates improvement. Whereas a good grade, doesn’t really get as much attention. Failure creates an opportunity for individual growth by considering alternatives, reworking problems, and presenting more innovative ideas. By having a willingness to explore multiple opportunities outside of my comfort zone, I have been able to further expand my skill set and assess failure in a constructive way.

Learning is not just inside the four walls of a classroom; it is everywhere, all the time. The individual is what makes it happen. Experience is vital to individual development, higher education, and careers. In any application or interview the employer may look at your GPA or transcript, but they really want to know your experiences, and what you have learned or gained from them. Taking advantage of the involvement opportunities provided by universities is a phenomenal way to gain crucial skills and become a stand out candidate in any role.


About the Author
Alysandra Smith

Alysandra Smith

Aly is a graduate student at the University of Southern California. She is pursuing a Master’s in Urban Planning, with a specialization in Sustainable Land Use. After graduation she hopes to stay in the Los Angeles area and pursue a career related to smart growth and development. Aly is an active member of the Associated Students of Planning and Development and the American Planning Association. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science from the Florida State University. While there, she had the opportunity to take on diverse leadership roles involving sustainability projects, philanthropy, and event planning. In her free time she enjoys volunteering, hiking, and traveling.