I have always played music and acted throughout my childhood, so it made sense for me to want to be a musician, actor, or some sort of performer when I grew up. I had never really thought about college, I just assumed I would be working towards my goal. Once I reached high school, however, I realized I needed to make some career and school choices that would be good for me while still working on my music career.
I had really enjoyed chemistry in high school, so when I enrolled in college I declared that as my major. I completed a semester’s worth of courses and I was enjoying myself. However, after a presentation from the engineering department I reevaluated my career goals and decided to change my major to chemical engineering to have better career opportunities and more interesting work to do.
I was not the best of students in college. I spent most of my nights partying or playing shows or going to see shows and I probably should have been studying more. I always crammed and pulled all-nighters in the days leading up to exams and managed to do okay, though I urge future students to consider an emphasis on studying first, playing later. You will thank me after your first night spent cramming equations in your head!
Regardless of my bad habits, I worked my way through my college pretty well and had a great time. I more or less enjoyed what I was learning and I met so many cool and interesting people. The best part of college is knowing you are surrounded by other forward looking people who have their own goals and career interests. It can be very inspiring and a great way to make contacts.
I never worried much about the job search before graduation. Engineering is such a tough field it took most of energy and time just to get good grades considering I am a bad student. I was able to study abroad one semester in Spain and it was an incredible experience. I made a lot of great contacts at a company I was interning for there and they actually mailed me with an offer two weeks after graduation. I was not sure whether I wanted to make such a move at that point in my life since I am originally from the United States and all of my family and friends live there. At the very least, however, it would be a fun adventure for a few months and I could always quit and come home.
That was four years ago and I am still in Spain! I am very glad that I kept my options open and took this fantastic offer instead of pushing for a local job and missing the chance to live and work here. I do very enjoyable work in the material processing and mass transfer field, contracting with companies all across Spain and Europe. One of the best parts about this is that there is a great music scene in most Spanish cities, so I get to play cool music almost every night with friends in various bars, clubs, and other venues. I don’t know if these bands will turn into something serious, but in the meantime they are tons of fun and let me play like I have always wanted to.
My life changed pretty quickly after graduation considering that I moved to Spain less than a month after graduating, all on very short notice. Fortunately, I had interned and spent a couple months in Spain so I was used to the lifestyle, but it was still a radical change going from a dorm in the US to an apartment in Spain. I was never lonely or too lost considering I had all of my old friends from my internship that I could call up if I need help or a friend. This aided with the adaption, but I still miss the US and my hometown some.
One thing that may have helped the transition would be living in an apartment for a while instead of a dorm, but that kind of change is exciting, not troubling. So I am pretty glad I just focused on school instead of trying to prepare for the future when the future would take care of itself. That said, I wish that I had focused a bit more on school related things.
I maintained decent grades, but if I had higher ones I would be able to get more scholarship money for graduate school one day, or perhaps be more competitive in the job market. So in school, the first priority for me should have been grades and learning the material. Focus exclusively on that and when you have extra time, enjoy the college life. There is plenty of room for both if you know how to manage your time!