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ESPOSITO: What I learned in college — plus advice for younger students

Column: Unapologetically

The holidays are a wonderful time to reflect on the growth, triumphs and mistakes of the past year — especially as a college senior.  – Photo by Rutgers.edu

This article will come out at midnight on my 22nd birthday. I have been writing here at The Daily Targum for more than two years now, and as my second-to-last semester quickly wraps up, there are only so many opportunities for me to write to you left.

The Targum is the second oldest collegiate paper in the U.S. Founded in 1869, a little more than 100 years later the newspaper announced complete separation from the University. If you have ever walked down the College Avenue campus and have seen someone ask you to vote in the Targum referendum, that is why.

The separation from the University has given us a unique opportunity as a college publication. We can write about whatever we want. I have seen my colleagues break investigative stories about the University. I have written a few heated opinion pieces of my own. The ability to speak freely and openly within this newspaper is always something I will cherish, because it is rare. 

Around this time every year, I like to write something holiday related. Mostly because I believe in the spirit and magic of the beginnings of winter. It has been sacred since the beginning of human civilization. Pagans, Christians, Jews, Muslims and Zoroastrians have celebrated holidays circulating around the winter solstice for thousands of years. It is a time of reflection, especially as it is my last college holiday break.

I have spent these weeks not only preparing for finals and wrapping up the final weeks of my internship, but also reflecting on these past three years, about turning 22 and what is to come. I preach about thinking of the past while looking forward to the future during this time, and this year, I thought I would do some reflecting of my own on a public platform.

I have been a student at Rutgers during some of its most tribulating times, and I have compiled a list of the things I have learned in the process.

Happy Holidays. 

Apply to as many internships as possible. Internships are more than something to boast about on LinkedIn, it is a way to figure out what it is you love to do and what it is you hate. The idea of a career can be so appealing to you, only for you to find out you do not like it at all.

Also, Rutgers has so many opportunities for you to do internships and get credit for them, regardless of whether or not they are paid. It is a great opportunity to go out into the world as a trial run. 

Get used to rejections. My first year, I was invited to apply to join the honors program, nominated for the Institute for Women's Leadership Scholars Program and I applied to the Targum. All three of these were rejections. Obviously, if you are reading this, I did not let that deter me from my goals.

I applied to more than 50 internships each semester, and would hope for just one offer. I was rejected by my dream company four different times before I got the offer I always wanted. Failure is a part of life. It is not a question of how smart you are, it is a question of how much you want it. 

You are never too old to get involved. My first year I was a part of every club I found remotely interesting. I was rolling pasta on Wednesday nights at Italian Club, going to Rutgers University Student Assembly meetings on Thursday nights and sorority events whenever I could.

It is okay if it takes time to realize where your place is. It is also okay to think that you have not found it yet. One of my best friends, who graduated in 2020, now works at a cryptocurrency club in New York City. Only a year and a half after graduation did he finally admit to me that during his senior year he used to disappear every Tuesday night to go to Salsa Club, and it was the favorite part of his week. 

And finally, I will leave you with this: As you reflect on everything that went right or went wrong this year, do not be too hard on yourself. Maybe you got your first C this semester — it is a blip in your transcript you will not even notice by senior year.

Maybe, you messed up on a final interview for a job you really thought you were going to get — your first job will never be your last, there will always be other jobs. Or maybe you lost a friend, went through a bad breakup or just had a rough semester. Do not let these things allow you to give up, allow yourself to use them as ammunition to propel you forward. I know I did.

Laura Esposito is in the School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in journalism and political science. Her column, "Unapologetically," typically runs on alternate Fridays.


*Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

YOUR VOICE | The Daily Targum welcomes submissions from all readers. Due to space limitations in our print newspaper, letters to the editor must not exceed 500 words. Guest columns and commentaries must be between 700 and 850 words. All authors must include their name, phone number, class year and college affiliation or department to be considered for publication. Please submit via email to oped@dailytargum.com by 4 p.m. to be considered for the following day’s publication. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.


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