Graduating student leaders advise students to find balance in extracurriculars, social life

Media Credit: Arielle Bader | Assistant Photo Editor

Senior Sarah Shavin, a founding fellow of the Innovation Center, said students should take on projects in areas where they may have little experience.

After gaining years of wisdom throughout their leadership positions on campus, senior student leaders have some advice to leave behind to their peers staying at GW.

Here are some pointers student leaders have to offer before they pass the reigns over to the next student leader of each organization:

‘Don’t feel the pressure to fill up your schedule just because everyone else is so busy’

As the former SA president, senior Ashley Le knows how it feels to have a packed schedule, but she advised peers not to feel pressured to do the same.

Le said to not overpack your schedule with activities because everyone else seems busy. She said students should prioritize their mental and social well-being over extracurriculars and work.

“Just because you’re not busy doesn’t mean that you’re missing out on anything,” she said. “I think it’s really important to take care of your mental health and your physical well-being, and at the end of the day, that is way more important than any internship, any extracurricular activity, any job that you could ever get.”

‘Don’t be afraid to work on something that you don’t have any experience in’

As a founding fellow of the Innovation Center, senior Sarah Shavin has worked with peers on projects that were new to her. Through her four years, she worked to develop projects like Virtual Jane, a mixed reality platform in partnership with Jane Goodall, and !Viva Puerto Rico!, a disaster relief effort after Hurricane Maria.

She said the hardest part of starting anything new is overcoming a learning curve, which could deter individuals from following through on projects. Despite the learning curve, Shavin told undergraduates to still “work on something you don’t have any experience in.”

She said that when she began crafting the app Thisfits, she had no technical experience. But she began sketching a design anyway and learned prototyping software that allowed her to show the developer something tangible.

“Once you’re on it and you’re learning, that sort of intimidation or pressure tends to go away because you just get so excited by what you’re working on and what you’re learning,” Shavin said.

‘Undergrad students don’t really understand the things they can get from alumni relations and career services’

Senior Jake Kania connected students when he founded the GW Memes Facebook page in spring 2017 with his four friends, but he advised students to connect with alumni before graduation.

Kania, who works in the alumni relations office, said students should engage with the office and take advantage of its opportunities because it will set them up for future involvement with the GW community before they leave campus and enter the workforce.

He added that students can learn to network and polish their interviewing skills through the office. Kania pointed to Career Connect, a platform for students to connect with alumni that often posts events for students and alumni to meet with one another.

“They’re super underutilized, a lot of things at GW are there – people just don’t take advantage of them,” he said.

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