Studying In the U.S. Goes Beyond the Classroom

Kathrin equestrian

Education Beyond the Classroom

With graduation being three weeks away, my mind is currently on a constant rollercoaster ride.  Will I find a paying job?  Will I love what I will end up doing? Will my work permit be approved?  What if I don’t find a job?  I know that I am ready to go back into the workforce, but I am also very aware that I will very much miss my time at California State University, Fullerton.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not someone who enjoys sitting over homework for a couple of hours during the day or writing 4-6 page essays, but I certainly loved sitting in my classes with like-minded people, becoming really good friends with some of them. I will miss the environment and the opportunity to partake in extra-curricular activities, a thing that is not really common in Germany, at least not when I was a student more than 10 years ago.  

When I moved out to Southern California as a student, I first attended community college before transferring to a 4-year institution.  It was a good way to save money, but looking back at it I wish I could have attended Cal State Fullerton from the beginning.  My community college in particular didn’t offer any extra-curricular activities.  It also was split up into several smaller campuses around the Orange County area, with no main campus.  I started out as a Business major and knew early on that I wanted to transfer to Fullerton once I had met my course requirements due to the fact that the school offers a business concentration in Entertainment and Tourism studies.  But during my time at Coastline Community College I had a very tough semester that made me rethink my major.  I realized that my strengths lay more in creative writing than in business; therefore I decided to change to Communications instead.  I love that this major, just as with Business, offers a lot of areas to get a job in.  I have always been very interested in the entertainment and tourism area, but I also like hospitality and nonprofit organizations.  And since Cal State Fullerton has one of the best communications programs, I was able to still stay true to my decision to transfer to this institution after the first two years of college.  

After I worked my way through community college and collected all the necessary credits, I finally moved on to Fullerton in January 2014.  I first wasn’t aware of the amazing selection of campus clubs the school had to offer until I took an online class during the summer term 2014, where I met a fellow classmate who recommended to join CSUF PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America) where I would be able to meet like-minded students and industry professionals.  I was very much looking forward to the upcoming fall semester to join the organization.  I was very impressed what the organization, which is run by students, had to offer: speaker panels, workshops, mixers, agency tours and fundraisers.  I stayed in the organization for one-and-a-half years, making valuable connections and new friends.  At the same time as I joined PRSSA, I also got to know about the university’s equestrian team.  I have participated in horseback riding throughout my youth and into adulthood, and I was more than eager to sit back in the saddle.  After the first equestrian club meeting I was sold and joined the team.  The only downside with this club was the fact that you had to pay a lot extra, such as the riding lessons, the fee to register with the sports inter-club council, and the riding competitions if members decided to participate in those.    I was part of the team for a whole year, helping out at horse shows and enjoying barn days together with the team.  Unfortunately, due to time constraints and the cost, I was unable to continue with the team, but in my heart I still wish I could be a member and jump in the saddle from time to time.

I didn’t stop taking advantage of what the school had to offer after that.  Instead, I joined the Communications Inter-Club Council in August 2015 for one semester.  The council is involved in event funding for the communication clubs as well as travel expenses, based on a set budget for an entire school year.  Members got to debate about whether or not to fund certain projects.  It was a great opportunity to get more involved with the school and get an insight in dealing with a budget and finances.  You also get to learn the Roberts Rules of order, which are being used in certain professions in the job force as well.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t continue my time with CICC during my last semester due to the fact that I landed an internship where I had to work on Mondays, the day when the council usually meets.

Since I have been very interested in entertainment and tourism for a while, it was more than logical to me to take a closer look in what the Entertainment and Tourism club had to offer.  I had previously heard really good things about the club, so I started attending events during the fall 2015 semester.  Since I wasn’t a paying member at that time, I still could attend the panels, but wasn’t allowed to network with the industry professionals.  Therefore, I decided to become a member this year, and am able to take full advantage of networking workshops, industry mixers, and networking with the pros.  I regret not having joined this organization earlier in my school career and maybe become involved more by joining a committee.

After all though, I am very grateful that I was able to be a part of four campus clubs that have further enriched my personal as well as my professional interests.  I can only recommend any future student to take as much advantage as possible of those opportunities while attending college in the U.S..  Not only are they a great way to meet like-minded people and industry professionals, they also look really good on resumes.  Many employers are looking for certain levels of experience, and a campus club definitely counts as such.

Images : ©Anne-Kathrin Schulte
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Anne-KathrinAnne-Kathrin Schulte, is a contributor for CaliforniaGermans.com. She writes on her personal experience of the American Dream as well as on working as an au pair in CA. She was born and grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany, where she completed her degree as a state-approved Kindergarten teacher. After her au pair engagement in the US and a quick return to Germany she decided to attend university in California and moved back to the United States. She lives in Southern California since 2011.

If you would like to contact Anne-Kathrin, please send an email to californiagermans(at)gmail.com and place her name in the subject line.

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