Learning to Take the Initiative

Being in college is an opportunity for a student to explore. It’s a chance to determine what you want to pursue as a career, and then learn all about how to excel in that field. The structure of classes and exams has many students viewing college as a requirement, rather than a privilege. Due to this fact, too many students don’t actually take advantage of what college truly has to offer.

As a child everything is given to us, but as we get older we start becoming independent and doing things for ourselves. College is the time where many people realize that nothing will just be given to them anymore. Whether it’s your next meal, a job, or simply just helpful advice, if you want something you have to take the initiative and go get it yourself.

In the Classroom

It is very easy to just be a face in the crowd. Especially in a huge university like UCF, blending in is easy. I challenge you to stand out… in a good way.

You will be surprised how much you can learn from a professor if you just simply go and talk to them. They chose this career for a reason. Professors enjoy educating students and they have much more knowledge outside of the lecture material that they will be willing to share. The first step is to introduce yourself to your professors. Take the time to show them that you appreciate their effort of sharing their knowledge with you.  Take the initiative to get noticed.

It’s a very easy task that can result in huge benefits. These professors have been in your shoes before. They know the struggles you will encounter and can give you incredible advice to help you excel.

Outside of the Classroom

It may be nerve racking to step outside of your comfort zone, but that’s a good thing! If you never get nervous, that means you are never trying something new. College is an opportunity to prepare you for the future. There are plenty of organizations to get involved with on campus. Obviously not all of them are going to be interesting to you, but there is something for everyone. 

One thing you will constantly hear instructors and administration say in college is “get involved”. Many students hear this, but don’t actually understand. Going to class on time and doing well on exams is not considered getting involved. What are you doing now outside of the classroom that will benefit you in the future? Take the initiative to get involved in a club or organization that will force you out of your comfort zone.

Off Campus

By the time you graduate college you should already have a job lined up, or at least a focus of where you want to be working. In order to prepare for this you will need some experience in your desired field of work before you graduate. This is where an internship comes into play.

Obtaining an internship is not the same as just signing up for a class. This is where taking the initiative is really put to the test. If you want something you have to work for it. Do research online and find organizations that interest you. Send them an email, or better yet pick up the phone and give them a call. Ask them if you can come in and interview for an internship position. If you don’t get hired, don’t let that discourage you. At least you are taking the initiative and that builds character. Sometimes you have to fail in order to learn how to succeed.

Are you willing to do today what others won’t, so you can live tomorrow like others can’t? Elbert Hubbard explains in his book It’s in his Love, Life and Work, that taking the initiative “is doing the right thing without being told”. The older and more mature you get, the less direction is provided for you. You have the ability to do whatever you want with your life. It’s never too late to change and make a difference. You may not be able to change the beginning of your story, but you can certainly change how it ends.

-Steven Yalowitz

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