2023 Hawai‘i College Guide: Advice from a Recent College Grad

How to set yourself up for success.


Cg Advice From Recent Grad

Photo: Courtesy of Emily Smith


In May 2022, I graduated summa cum laude from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. I enjoyed the comfort of being a student, but I’m excited for my future because I know I worked hard. I got good grades, took advantage of internship opportunities, and made connections with professors that ended up easing my emotions and even helped me finish college early, in just three years. Post-graduation life is going well too: I’m interning full-time with HONOLULU Magazine and am set to attend the University of Southern California to get my master’s degree in communication management. Here are some steps I took in college that can help lower the stress of graduating into the real world.


Look out for internship opportunities. Let’s face it, what makes college priceless is not necessarily the education, but the opportunities that it presents. I was amazed to see how many companies would ask UH to blast their internship posts to students. With how challenging it is to get a job, taking advantage of internship opportunities is a great way to give yourself some leverage.


I Zoomed into my first internship with a public relations company. My palms were sweaty, not knowing what to expect. My goal was to add a bullet point to my résumé. On the first day I was given the responsibility of creating graphics, handling certain posts and drafting captions for social media. And I soon realized that internships are about more than just building a résumé. They’re about building skills.


Get to know your professors. Shy and timid before college, I was the student who would walk with my head down and sit at the back of the class. This mental wall cost me the connections I could have made with my professors during my freshman year. However, in my sophomore year I realized that I would inevitably need an academic recommendation letter. In English class, we were learning about Associated Press style, and I had a lot of questions. I emailed my professor multiple times, and hopped onto Zoom calls with her, too. Through this, she got a sense of who I am and my work ethic. A year later, I started applying to graduate schools, and she was more than willing to write my recommendation letter, which helped me get accepted to all the universities I applied for.


Take notes on a laptop during lectures. This seems like a no-brainer; however, you would be surprised at how many students sit at the back of the classroom on their phones or chatting with their friends. Taking notes will help you ace that test and keep your grades up. In my first semester of college I took an American Studies class, which consisted of 1 ½-hour lectures. Originally, I brought my trusty colored pens and notebook to take color-coordinated notes. But after the first 30 minutes, my hands were in excruciating pain from trying to keep up with the professor’s slideshow. I switched over to my computer. It was easier to keep up that way, and painless as well. By the time finals rolled around, I had about 50 pages of notes that I could study from, which ended up paying off on my final exam.


College is what you make of it. If you put in the work, you will get results, and if you do not, you might lose sight of what you are really there for. Anxiety and uncertainty are unavoidable, but you can take steps to ease your angst and ensure success. Take it from me, a recent graduate. And make the best out of every opportunity.


Return to main page