Many students think college is just an item on life’s checklist, said Milosz Pierwola, a professional adventurer and tour guide.
In reality, college should be a time to begin exploring one’s passion, he said. The Class of 2006 alumnus will be speaking to the University community tonight at 6 p.m. in the College Avenue Student Center, speaking about choosing a career in conjunction with the Rutgers University Programming Association (RUPA) and other clubs.
“The most memorable things I have from college that are still with me today, are all of the memories of people who came to the school to speak,” he said. “I respect professors a lot, but many of them simply learned how to excel academically, and they continued in academics rather than going out and finding (other) passions.”
The former lawyer wants to inform students about different methods for entering their choice career fields, he said. In his time, he has been an explorer, a guide, a promoter and an attorney. His dislike of the latter career is what encouraged him to move into the former.
To get to a point where he could become an adventurer, he called companies and asked for sponsorships, and repeating this processes has enabled his present success, he said.
“I would tell students to ask themselves what they do the most besides procrastinating and partying,” he said. “If that’s the thing they like to do … there is a career where people get paid doing that. If that’s the thing you love to do, get paid for it.”
Students should not just graduate and join the first position they are able to find related to their major, he said.
“I’m trying to get people away from thinking college is a multiple choice exam,” he said. “Think outside the box, what do you specifically want? What is the craziest thing that you have wanted to be since you were a child?”
During their undergraduate studies, students should apply to internships or join clubs that match their interests. Rutgers' “global roots” also means instructors at the University usually have connections with professionals in many career fields.
Students can use these connections to gain internships, which will help them further down the line, he said.
The most important aspect is putting in full effort, he said.
“I did all of those things 100 percent, and I encourage students to follow whatever crazy pursuit they wish 100 percent, because when you finally figure out what it is you want to do with your life, you’ll be trying your hardest,” he said.
If people do not put forward their best effort while working at less interesting positions, Pierwola said they will be disadvantaged later on because they will not be trained to actually put in the amount of work they should.
Being interested in one’s career also helps people pay off student loans, he said.
“Debt is a fact of life (but) you can’t go to jail for academic debt,” he said. “If you have no income, you can’t pay your debt and you won’t go to jail. What happens is if you come out of school, your loan companies have tools available for you to pay off your debt in a timely way.”
While large amounts of debt can be crippling to think about, if graduates focus on their careers, paying back loan companies becomes as simple as paying a phone bill, he said.
“It’s not about paying your loans off, it’s about managing your debt,” he said. “It’s a mutual interest … that you and your loan company have, to get your loans paid off. You want to pay and they want you to pay.”
During his talk tonight, Pierwola will be handing out prizes, and with the help of Celestron and other sponsors, will be donating more than $10,000 to the University. This includes $7,500 in funds and a computerized mobile telescope.
Being able to donate money is a result of his managing of his debt, he said in a Reddit post. By using the resources available in a college, students can more easily enter the career field of their choosing upon graduation.
“Look at college as a toolbox, and know that there are professors and groups and clubs that do all sorts of things that are funded by the University,” he said. “People should be seeing college as something they can take advantage of, not homework and tuition and classes.”