I have always subscribed to the idea that college is what you make of it – with true focus, one can be hugely successful at a so-called “no name” school, while a lack thereof could allow an Ivy league education to go to waste. However, I have found that aside from yourself, your core friend group is critical in ensuring success, both as a support network and an inspiration.

At the beginning of my sophomore year, after working at a lab for the summer, one of my upperclassmen friends that had worked as a software engineer intern at a big name company asked for my resume so that she could forward it to here recruiter. I was taken back, at the time I had only taken one CS course and was surely not qualified for any internship work in the field. I told her exactly how I felt, but she insisted that I apply through her referral. So, I prettied up my resume, realized that I had almost nothing to show for myself, and eventually was deferred for the internship. Although I was unsuccessful with the hiring process, I gained the invaluable experience of being exposed to opportunity and taking advantage of everything available.

Now, I find myself with an offer from the same company along with a few others. Over the past year I have focused more on computer science as my field of study, along with my career. Her influence is only one of many, however. Without being surrounded by driven and incredible people it would have been much more difficult to find the inspiration to work as hard as I have. Also, simple seeing what people around you are doing is extremely helpful in seeing what possible opportunities are available whatever field you are interested in.

Of course, being successful in career pursuit is great, but more important is staying sane through the college workload and experience. For me personally, I was lucky to have my friend group based around others that were also pursuing a double degree in music and academics. Whatever your situation, it is important to not restrict yourself to a certain group of people. Rather look for the right friends that you can rely on and be open with, and offer the same for them in return.

As far as advice, it is difficult to gauge how your future colleagues in college will interact with yourself; however, simply keep an open mind and realize that everyone is there to help one another and navigate through a new life milestone.