Tis graduation season for high school and college alike (except my high school was weird and went 'til June… and I guess some schools are year round now)… whatever, it's symbolic. I've officially been out of college for four years and I thought about what advice I could share with a new college graduate. But you know, four years isn't an accurate sample size for providing wisdom in the real world. I've got some things but I'm mostly still figuring it out. Ask someone else, and let me know what they say please?
But HIGH SCHOOL grads? Sure, I got this. Eight years since high school means it's been long enough to get some useful thoughts together, but not so long that I've forgotten everything in my old age. It's getting fuzzy and some of the negative stuff has probably been effectively blocked out only to be retrieved by some serious therapy or maybe Ambien. But it's around, at least enough to make this realistic.
Alright, so you're graduating this month. For some ridiculous reason you've decided you want to join our industry. You've also decided that you want to earn a college degree in your pursuit of being a video person. You've got some living plans for the fall, an orientation on your calendar, and you're salivating at the idea of all that freedom that's about to hit you.
Learn to cook.
Seriously, this will make life on your own a lot easier. Learn how to cook (and cook cheaply) and you save a lot of money and eat a lot less terrible junk. Even if you're going to live at home while you're in school, learn the basics early. Before you know it, you'll be asking for really nice nonstick pan for Christmas and wondering when you became so lame -- but you'll also eat better than your silly friends.
Start to build a network.
Some people I talk to hesitate from being too involved in the industry when they first start because they think they don't have much to add. That's stupid. Make a website for yourself, start a blog, follow people on Twitter and converse. In four years or so, a lot more people will know your name.
Find out what education discounts or freebies you get and take advantage the moment you're enrolled.
One of the great things about paying thousands of dollars in tuition is that you now qualify for STUDENT DISCOUNTS! My university, IU, provided Adobe Creative Suite to all students when I attended. Almost everything you might buy can be purchased with a student discount. Including movies, if you weren't doing that already. Autodesk offers a bunch of programs for free for short licenses. Avid has a discounted license with years of free upgrades. There's no reason to get to graduation and say "aw man, I never had the opportunity to learn insert thing here for most things anymore. Nearly all these apps can run on the most affordable machines. Take advantage! You are the young people that the old people are fretting about!
And use your discount to see movies!
Hang out with your high school friends.
If you like your high school friends, spend the summer with them. Don't get ahead of yourself. Chances are you'll see each other a few times on each others' campuses during your first year, then after that probably not so much. Enjoy hanging out with people you know before you have to socialize on your own again. If you don't like them, then do something better!
Get a handle on the industry online and locally.
Besides building a network, start reading industry blogs and sites. Make it a habit to keep up with what's going on. Visit forums and bookmark your favorite blogs. It's a LOT of information on a daily basis so you might fall behind, but even knowing the best resources for finding out what's going on in the industry puts you way ahead of your classmates. And not just knowing things, but having an EDUCATED opinion. Hell, that puts you ahead of most people in the whole industry.
And locally, start finding people. Use your cute little college freshman face and ask for an informational interview or tour. Almost everyone will oblige you. Then you can eventually ask for an internship.
Bookmark some ramen recipes.
Here are some good recipes to start with.
An egg is a really good finisher. This is not a joke. Ramen seems like a college cliche. It kind of is, but it's also kind of not.
Make exercise a habit.
There's the old freshman 15 joke about people gaining weight in college, right? As a video student, you have it even worse. Because if you aren't working on school projects, you're working on your own projects, and all of that requires sitting inside away from the sun and fresh air. There is an awful lot of sitting in college, but for some reason it's extremely tiring at the same time. Trying to get into some kind of exercise routine (or at least having a rough understanding of how to work out without gym equipment) may help prevent you from becoming an amorphous blob. May not, but at least you'll look pretty good when you get to school?
Don't kill yourself to finish in 4 years.
A lot of colleges are moving to 5 year programs because of the number of students that work full time. Or the number of students that change their major. If you have to work in college, it's hard to do internships and school and internships fall to the wayside. They shouldn't. And don't give yourself zero free time to pursue your own projects or ya know, be a college kid and do college social things. Don't kill yourself to finish in 4 years just because you think that's how it "should" be. Don't spend your summer planning your college experience down to the letter. Don't think past your first semester. Resolve to going with the flow and you'll be much less stressed out about it. Yes, I'm speaking from experience.
Enjoy your summer, save your money, and don't lose your mind when you're on your own. You DO have to pay all this college junk back, you know.