Students should use experiential learning to find their passion and career

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By: Addie Glick

The workforce is changing faster than ever. In a competitive climate, a college degree is not always enough to guarantee a job. Employers look for experience, the pressure is on for me and all students to seek experiences that will make us stand out among other candidates. Despite this, there are two major problems I face. First, the call for experience is frustrating amidst a full-time school schedule and for many entry-level jobs, the experience requirement requires experience. How do I begin?  How can I find the career I’m most passionate about? Like many students, I started school with a vague idea of what I want to do based on my interests and changed my major several times trying to figure it out. It can feel like a perpetual guessing game.

Here is what I have learned: Experiential learning is a tool rather than a burden. Students should participate in experiential learning because it allows us to find our passion and get careers. Although there are many experiential learning opportunities on campus, as a Service-Learning intern I have witnessed first-hand how Service-Learning helps students find their passion and career. Service-Learning classes allow students to apply their skills and knowledge within a relevant community need and potential career setting.

Finding your major

As a busy student, I understand the stigma surrounding experiential learning as a burden. I have had several peers tell me how the extra hours are stressful. I challenge students to see experiential learning as an opportunity rather than a burden because it allows us to find our passion, helping us narrow our interests, make crucial career decisions and get careers.

As an English writing major, I was thinking about becoming a grant writer. After having the opportunity to experience writing a grant for a Service-Learning class, I realized that style of writing isn’t for me. Now I can progress in my major by taking different writing classes better aligned with the style of writing I am passionate about. I met a student last winter named McKenna Hardee, who also made a crucial career decision from her Service-Learning experience. After working with children at Morley Nelson Community Center last fall, she was inspired to change her major from Social Work to Elementary Education.

“Service-Learning had such a substantial effect on me and (was) one of the most important decisions for my future,” Hardee said.

Employment opportunities

Students who take initiative in experiential learning are sometimes offered jobs. Madeline Zavrsnick, a senior majoring in health sciences, was employed at The Good Samaritan Home this fall after her Service-Learning experience there last fall. Through experience she found her passion for working with the elderly population and decided to add an emphasis in gerontology, the study of aging, to her degree.

“Working here actually changed my life. I absolutely love the staff members and residents,” Zavrsnick said. “I love telling people to do Service-Learning because that is exactly what I got my job through, I have my career and I’m two months away from graduation… it’s absolutely amazing!”

Madeline took initiative to seek experiences, and in doing so she found her passion and was offered a career before graduation.

Experiential learning at Boise State

The thought of graduation is bittersweet whether you are a freshman or a senior, and the pressure of finding a career can be daunting. Luckily, our campus provides ample experiential learning opportunities allowing students to find their passion, make crucial career decisions and find a career. President Kustra announced a new initiative in his State of the University Address this year that will “focus on boosting the success of our students beyond the major and long after they receive their diploma.”

I wondered how I could take initiative to be successful after graduation, and now I know how experiential learning helps prepare students for life after graduation. I can find my passion by testing the knowledge learned in class in a real-world setting and put it on my resume to stand out among other candidates for a career.

Students should participate in experiential learning, whether it is a Service-Learning class, an internship, study abroad, volunteer work, you name it. Even if students don’t find their passion, they can make a crucial career decision and it still counts as experience that is valuable to employers. The experiences we gain in college, whether reinforcing a passion or deterring us from a field forever, contribute to the wealth of experiences that get us careers in the end.

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