“You Are a Niner” was written in bold across the acceptance letter to college that would begin a new chapter in my life. It was time to move out of my small town and head to Charlotte, my new home for the next couple of years. I was excited to finally be moving out of my parent’s house, which meant no more rules and no more curfews. I was free to do what I wanted and when I wanted. I was finally my own boss and so excited to live the college experience.
I may have got too carried away living the college experience my first semester. So much so, my academics suffered tremendously. Sure I was in business school for management, but I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do in the future. School and my future were the last things on my mind during my first semester at UNCC. When final grades were posted, my pride was extremely hurt. I went from being an excellent student who never accepted anything lower than a B to someone who failed her first class. I was so disappointed in myself; it felt like I just wasted a lot of my time and a ton of my money. Failing my first class was definitely a wakeup call. I realized I needed to utilize college and the endless opportunities my school provided in order to start building my professionalism.
The first step in my journey to developing my professionalism was figuring out a general idea of what I would be interested in doing in the future. I had to figure out what I was passionate about that could evolve into a career. This led me to changing my major. I was beyond miserable in business school. I was so unhappy I forgot why I even applied for business school in the first place. I sat down with my advisor and after an hour of telling her what I am interested in, she suggested I go into communications. I found that once I started taking communications classes, I enjoyed learning again and my grades reflected that.
The second step was my decision to join an internship course through the WGST (women and gender studies) department. I was extremely stoked to land an amazing internship with The Jamie Kimble Foundation as a marketing intern. Throughout the internship course, I attended an array of different networking events, participated in mock interviews to master my interviewing skills, volunteered any chance I could, and attended career workshops like salary negotiation, diversity and inclusion, and workplace violence.
The third step was taking a risk doing something completely out of my comfort zone. I decided to apply for internships in Omaha, Nebraska. I knew I wanted to visit Nebraska for the summer to see my family, so it dawned on me that I could make the trip worthwhile and continue building my professionalism throughout the summer. So as I was searching, I came across a marketing internship with C&A Industries and I immediately applied for the position. I waited for weeks, and I finally got an email requesting an interview. Finally after a couple months, three interviews, and mounds of paperwork, it was official: I got the job!
I am currently going through my fourth step to building my professionalism. I began my internship with C&A Industries the week after I moved to Omaha, and I have been loving it ever since. This internship is like no other opportunity that I have experienced. Coming from a nonprofit background, I thought tackling a corporate setting was going to be challenging. I surprised myself by how quickly I acclimated into my position and how fast I caught on to the different procedures. I learn something new and useful every day I come into the office. There is never a day where I feel unproductive or unimportant. I work with an amazing, supportive team in the marketing division that is always willing to help me grow and teach me new skills. The amount of opportunities and trainings C&A has offered me thus far is truly incredible and the genuinely positive atmosphere is electrifying.
Through my first semester at UNCC I learned a valuable lesson: with freedom comes responsibility and accountability. I realized I was the only creator of my future and what I decide to do in college will surely affect my future once I graduate. It was time to start growing my professionalism in order to begin paving the way towards my future. If I have any advice to give to college students who are in a similar position as I was in, it would be to take your professional development seriously. Yes, it is okay to have fun and make the most of college, but always make sure to prioritize your future first. Don’t be afraid to take an opportunity that presents itself to you. Take networking and training seriously and always ask questions. Knowledge is power; the more you know, the further you will go.
Jasmine Boyce is a Communications major at University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where she will be graduating from May 2020. At CA Industries, she is one of our Summer 2019 interns who works in the Marketing division. When not at work or school, Jasmine enjoys taking road trips and hiking with her dogs.