Setting Yourself up for Success as a Freshman: From Exploring to Planning

Making the adjustment to college can be difficult, especially if you aren’t sure what your future holds yet. As an incoming freshman, there is lots of planning ahead to be done–but don’t panic. Plenty of students don’t declare their majors until their sophomore year or before their junior year. 

Regardless, it’s never too early to start exploring your interests and expanding your horizons. There are many resources available to students for learning about different careers and majors, creating networking opportunities, and progressing towards whatever career you might choose. 

A great idea would be to join a First Year Interest Group, or FIG. This is a program offered by UW-Madison that places students into groups by interest or potential major and puts them in a specific set of classes together. Personally, this experience was great for me in helping me decide what major I wanted to pursue by the end of my freshman year. I was also able to meet and collaborate with many of my classmates, creating long-lasting connections with people who are in the same field as me. Building a large amount of relationships and expanding your network within your field is extremely important and will only lead to more opportunity and partnership. 

When planning for the summer before sophomore year, keep in mind that it is never too early to start applying for internships! Internships offer invaluable work experience and provide a gateway into a full-time career. While many companies and organizations are typically looking for older students or graduates, it never hurts to put your name out to apply for as many positions as you can; sometimes you will be rejected many times before you are accepted. This was definitely true for me; I was accepted for an internship position by a company that rejected me last summer after working in assembly last year. 

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