Over my past four (yikes!) years at Northwestern, I’ve been lucky enough to have been involved in exciting projects, gathering a wide range of experiences while meeting extremely passionate and hard-working peers. However, as I look back, I realize that I’ve made one extreme error: I’ve only sought out opportunity in one corner of Northwestern’s vast campus.

As a Theatre major, I’ll find myself composing music for Seesaw Theatre (a group that creates multi-sensory, accessible theatre for audiences with developmental differences) one day and dancing in my friend’s tap cabaret the next. And while I look back on these memories with great fondness, it’s safe to say that I have spent the entirety of my college career in the same three buildings.

A few weeks ago, the stark realization that I’ll soon be out in the real world (help please) hit me like a big, preprofessional ton of bricks. I decided it would be wise to have an updated resume, so I took a trip to the other end of campus in order to visit Northwestern Career Advancement (NCA). Over the next hour, I met with a special advisor who works with students in the arts, and we combed through my resume, cleaning and updating along the way.

My trip to the NCA was immensely helpful: the moment I stepped into the room, I was taken care of and given personalized and insightful advice, yet for some reason, I hadn’t thought to take advantage of this opportunity until halfway through my final year. And after leaving the NCA, my mind flew to all of the programs that have existed on campus, programs that have quite literally been calling my name only to be ignored by me.

Northwestern is teeming with accessible opportunities for students, and if you ask any Wildcat, they’ll be all too familiar with an abundance of emails from not only the NCA, but also Northwestern’s Office of External Programs, Internships, & Career Services, and countless offices for research, studying abroad, and more. All of these offices are literally throwing opportunity (and often free pizza) at students, but for some reason, we tend to ignore these emails because we are self-starters and like to seek out opportunity ourselves. We become robots and, as if some primitive instinct has kicked in, delete the email thinking it’s junk.

So incoming Wildcats, take heed: get up and out! You should literally step foot into every single building on campus, because each one is filled with exciting opportunities that you won’t know even existed until you are close enough to touch them. It seems very flashy and exciting to join in with your peers to work on your own projects (and you should definitely do this!), but take it from me, don’t discount the amazing programs that already exist at Northwestern. Whether it’s grants from the Office of Undergraduate Research or attending a job fair on campus, every corner of campus holds something new and exciting in store. We spend so much time worrying about what will happen when we walk into the room that we usually forget to walk into the room in the first place. But what I’ve begun to learn is that walking into the room is the hardest part, and once you get that out of the way, things have a way of working themselves out.

Photo Credit: Mari Uchida Photography

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