Hello! My name is Emily and I am the Team Lead for Career Services at the Gateway Student Success Center. I’m new to NAU, to Flagstaff, and to working at a university, and I’m really excited for the new year. I will be guest blogging from time to time about career, but today I’m here to talk about YOU!

Not long before classes started, a friend forwarded me an article about “Why College Students Need to Self-Reflect” (published in Forbes, 8/15/2013). The article states that “All too often, undergraduates have an instrumentalist view of college, viewing it solely as a way to prepare for a career, and perhaps have some fun along the way…Self-reflection is not on their radar screens.” And goes on to say that “We believe that college students should expect to graduate with the knowledge and skills to engage in a career they will find satisfying, or at least to lay the intellectual grounding for graduate work to serve that purpose. But more important, college students need to find themselves. They need to become comfortable in their knowledge of who they are and how they want to relate to the larger world beyond.”

So what does this mean? Simply put, before you decide on a career, you need to find YOU! “Reflecting” may not sound like much fun, but if you look closely, you will see that college is full of opportunities to learn about who you are and what is important to you. I challenge you, over the course of your time at NAU, to try to answer three questions:

1. What am I good at?

Part of this is about academics. Some of us are good at math, some at history, some at business, etc. But what are you good at outside of class? Are you the “organizer” who always plans outings and events? The “connector” who knows lots of different people and bring them together? The “sounding board” that everyone comes to for advice? Of course, there is no right or wrong answer.  Any club, group of friends, or class project group needs a wide variety of people to be a success. Figure out what you bring to the group!

2. What is important to me?

What is your favorite part of your life at NAU? If your room was burning down and you could only rescue one thing what would it be? Your iPhone? A card from your parents? A t-shirt from an event that you attended? These questions can help you determine what you value, or what is important to you. The trick is focusing on the you…your roommate, best friend, classmate, or parent may have a different list, and that’s okay! Once you figure out what is most important, make sure to plan your time accordingly. For example, if you highly value having a diverse group of friends, make sure that you are making time to meet people in many different ways, not revolving your social life around just one group.

3. What have I learned about myself?

For most of you, college will be full of some great times, and numerous challenges as well. Celebrate your accomplishments, but take some time to think about what got you there – perhaps managing your time well, asking your mentor for advice, or getting out of your comfort zone. You will learn from your successes! When things don’t go well – and this is the hard part – you will learn even more. Stress over too much to do, disagreements with friends, and the occasional heartbreak don’t end when college does. But if you reflect on each not-so-great-moment, you’ll learn which challenges you grew from and which situations you can be sure to avoid in the future.

So as you start the year… learn lots and enjoy every new experience. And take time to reflect along the way!

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