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4 Key Lessons I Learned Outside the Classroom

In May 2021, I completed my Master’s in Accounting at CUNY Lehman College. The last 5 years were a magnificent journey with many challenges and opportunities. I learned a lot in my classes, but I gained the most valuable lessons outside of the classroom. I gained these insights by being the President of a student leadership chapter, volunteering at shelters, and participating in summer internships. Earning a degree to start a career is only one of the reasons we should go to college, the rest are for the experiences along the way.

Here are 4 of the best lessons I learned in College:

1. Personal Growth:

The most important thing I learned in college is that personal growth is the key to achieving your goals. One of my mentors told me that being a student of life will always help me overcome any challenge and be successful in anything I do. For example, if I wanted to graduate and secure a full-time offer with a Fortune 500 Company, I needed to get out of my comfort zone. I had to develop my resume, interviewing, and networking skills to secure internships. I had to stop being shy and learn how to communicate with professionals in the Accounting field to understand what their jobs entailed. I needed to learn how to ask more questions and lead myself throughout my summer internships to achieve a return offer. It took me 3 years to master these skills. I failed many times in the beginning, but what kept me going was my attitude to continue learning and being a student of life. Some of the tools that guided my personal growth were listening to motivational podcasts, reading books on growth mindset, and practicing positive self-talk. How do you grow yourself personally?

2. Managing Activities:

Learning how to juggle life, school, and having a full-time job, felt like a rollercoaster. One day I was all caught up with my assignments, work was steady, and taking care of my family was smooth sailing. But then I had other days where life would hit me with 3 projects and I couldn’t seem to remember what to get for groceries. As I struggled for months to keep up with all the moving pieces in my life, I realized that I would never find a balance, but I could find harmony. With the recommendation from a friend, I started planning for the next day the night before. I also reminded myself that each day had different priorities and not every day would be the same. I bought a few calendars and organized my class deadlines, work schedule, leadership activities, and self-care. I time-blocked each day in 30 minutes increments to help me get the most out of my day. By practicing these methods, I was able to pass my classes with As, be an A player at work, and practice self-care. We all have 24 hours in a day, how do you plan for your 24 hours?

3. Networking and Building Relationships:

Joining the Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA) and Young Ambitious One (YAO) was two of the greatest decisions I’ve made to enhance my college experience. It is because of the people I met at professional events, I was able to learn about different career paths, plan for my starting career and gain professional mentorship. I also discovered the importance of getting to know our Professors and Department Heads on campus. By building strong relationships with the faculty, I learned about different tuition scholarships and gained campus jobs that worked best with my class schedule. Most importantly, I learned that networking and building relationships is about adding value and impacting the people in our community and our next generation. By developing my network, I was equipped to guide many students in our ALPFA student chapter to secure internships and full-time offers, and assist our Business Department Head to kick start a new School of Business. What professional networks are you involved in?

4. Landing and Pivoting Job Offers:

I never thought it was possible to secure a full-time job while being enrolled in college. I always had the idea that I would get a great job in 2 months after graduating. All of this crumbled away when I became a member of ALPFA and found out that this is not always true. With the guidance and support of the student leaders and professionals, I participated in 4 summer internships in Big 4 Accounting and Private Equity which led to full-time job offers. However, after reflecting on my undergraduate experience, I realized that Accounting wasn’t my passion. My passion involves solving different problems, building relationships, and creating a larger impact. After sorely complaining to my YAO coach about the CPA exam, we made a plan to pivot from Accounting to Consulting. Preparing for the pivot was very scary. I wasn’t sure if I could actually pull this off in 4 months' time, and I didn’t think I had the skills and knowledge to be successful in Consulting. However, after having several career conversations with my YAO coach and practicing positive self-talk, I was able to nail my 3 interviews and secure my full-time offer in 2 months! Have you ever experienced that moment where you feel like this isn’t what I’m supposed to be doing with my life?

These are just 4 out of the many things I learned in college. I hope that if you're in college right now you’re making many memories and conquering every day with a learning attitude. If you’ve graduated recently, feel free to drop a comment related to your favorite lesson!


Sarah Persaud: Project Manager: Community Management & University Partnerships,

Young Ambitious One, LLC

Career Advice and Professional Development

I work in the consulting industry, specializing in accounting, tax, and financial services. I am passionate about personal & professional development, financial literacy, and generational wealth. I enjoy networking with people of all backgrounds and I always seek to add value to everyone I meet.


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