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Tips and Takeaways from T&M

By Simran Bagga

I landed at JFK at around 2 PM on August 16, 2016 and set foot (for the first time) to the country that I would live in for the next 4 years of my life. Growing up, I lived in multiple different countries across multiple different continents – starting out in Mozambique and eventually moving to Dubai while staying close to India. However, this move for a 17 year old without knowing anyone on a campus of 50,000 people proved to be particularly challenging… until I met the right people of course! Navigating my time at UIUC, from a timid freshman to a confident graduate, was about stepping out of my comfort zone and allowing myself to grow into the individual that I knew I always wanted to be. The Hoeft Technology and Management Program played a significant role in allowing me to do this. With 3 days of post-graduation wisdom, I’d like to share some things that I think might help anyone who finds themselves in a similar position:

1. Invest in your growth.

The cliché…. right? I say this, first and foremost, in a professional sense – go out and set up a coffee chat with that recruiter for your dream job. But more importantly, I mean this in a more personal sense – it is beyond easy to get caught up doing things that pave the path to the dream job or that perfect GPA. In my experience, before I knew it I was running two organizations, recruiting for a full-time job, and taking 19 credit hours. So starting out early, make time to do things that will supplement your personal growth. Take time to introspect and set goals for WHO you want to be and what hobbies you want to pursue – and chase them! Start out small and get coffee with that person you’ve always wanted to be friends with, take that cooking class… whatever it is for you!

2. Embrace being uncomfortable.

I remember T&M Orientation like it was yesterday – I was in a room with 60+ students that I was supposed to spend the next two years with and I knew about 3 people. After graduating, I can say that I can count on my peers in the program to always have my back. This happened as each of us stepped out of our comfort zones and got to know each other. If you take tip 1 seriously (and I really hope you do!), you will inevitably be put in uncomfortable situations while chasing things you really want. Learn to embrace that sense of unfamiliarity and use it to enhance your personal development. I strongly believe that after taking the time to clearly define your morals, values, and what truly is important to you, choices regarding your career path and friends, among many others, become significantly easier.

3. Get to know people who are very different from you.

Going to a university as large as the University of Illinois presents us with a very unique opportunity – there are tons of people here coming from very different backgrounds. It is incredibly easy to surround yourself with people who think the same way as you do and belong to a very similar background since these are the people you will inevitably connect the most with. However, some of the most intriguing conversations I’ve had have involved picking the brains of people that had nothing in common with me. The Hoeft Technology and Management Program has played a huge role in providing me with opportunities to have these interactions. Develop empathy and a broader sense of the world while you have the chance!

At the end of the day, I don’t claim to have a perfect formula on how to successfully navigate 4 years of college. But, I guarantee taking some time to do the things mentioned above will definitely make you smile while you reminisce your time on campus! 🙂

Simran Bagga

Simran is currently in T&M Class XXIV, a senior in Accounting and Finance, and has accepted a full-time position at Ernst and Young as a Tech Consulting Associate.

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