Undergraduate Blog

Making the Most of McIntire: Advice for the Newly Admitted Cohort from a Soon-to-be Grad

Margot Seidel (right) with members of her Integrated Core Experience project team after their final presentation to Hilton executives.

Margot Seidel (right) with members of her Integrated Core Experience project team after their final presentation to Hilton executives.

By Margot Seidel (McIntire ’23)

Given the recent release of this year’s B.S. in Commerce admissions decisions, I want to take a moment to offer some advice to the newly admitted class of McIntire students (and those of years to come). Matriculating into McIntire is a major accomplishment, but the hard work doesn’t stop there. Over the next two years, you will amass new skills, new friendships, and maybe even some new snacking habits (just wait ‘til you see those vending machines). The business casual portion of your wardrobe will see more action than ever before, and the computer lab will become your new favorite workstation. You will develop into a Microsoft Office guru, cranking out slide decks and spreadsheets like it’s your job. You will become much more comfortable presenting in front of crowds and defending your ideas. Your concentration and track might change (more than once). Recruiting for jobs and summer internships will be intimidating. But at the end of it all, you’ll look back, full of pride, wondering how your time is already up and wishing you had just a little bit more left.

To be sure, no two students’ Commerce experiences are the same—that’s what makes them so special. However, as a fourth-year, I’ve learned a thing or two about how to make the most of what McIntire has to offer. As I approach my graduation in May and reflect upon these past two years as a business student, a few major lessons come to mind:

  1. Utilize your network. The McIntire community is vast, and full of people who want to see you succeed (and help you do so!). Schedule an appointment with your academic adviser to chat about things like degree planning (see Tip #2). Filter your LinkedIn searches to McIntire alumni when networking online. Lean on your classmates for late-night study buddies and interview prep partners. There is no glory in going at it alone.
  2. Know the value of academic planning. Writing out the courses that you plan to take for the next four semesters might feel like a daunting task, but it’s a valuable one. Things will likely change, and that’s okay—I’ve personally switched concentrations and added a track since my first semester at McIntire. However, having a basic plan that you can work from helps keep you on track to graduate without surprises.
  3. Book study rooms in advance. Okay, this one is a bit trivial, but practical—those things fill up fast. McIntire study rooms are a hot commodity, so be sure to plan with your project teams and reserve rooms ahead of time. Some of my most favorite memories from McIntire are the brainstorming sessions that have taken place in those rooms (the whiteboards are a game changer).
  4. Take care of yourself. Get plenty of sleep. Drink lots of water. Eat real meals (not just the vending machine snacks). Be intentional about catching up with family and friends. Limit the hours of the day that you check your email. Make time for movement. Your performance will be better off in the long run if you prioritize self-care. College is the perfect time to solidify healthy habits that you can carry with you after graduation.
  5. Get to know your project teams. McIntire is known for group work, and you’ll do yourself a big favor if you invest in getting to know your teammates at the beginning of each project. Building comradery and cohesion at the start pays dividends down the line when you know you can rely on your team and lean into each other’s strengths.
  6. Take time to think about what you want out of your career. Introspection is underrated. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of student life and forget to check in with yourself. Knowing your priorities and values is the first step towards setting and achieving goals that will be truly fulfilling for you. Maybe it’s always been your dream to work for a Silicon Valley startup. Maybe you really want to be close to family after graduation, or experience working abroad. Regardless, routinely reflecting on what kind of lifestyle you want will help you feel more confident when you make decisions about what to study and where to work.

My final (and possibly most important) tip is this: Recognize that it’s going to fly by. I know you just got in. I know two years sounds like an eternity. I know it’s cliché, but trust me—your time at McIntire is brief. Don’t wait to do all the things you want to do. Go to your favorite professor’s office hours. Stop by a McIntire Mingle, and get to know your peers. Attend that speaker series. These opportunities won’t be on the table forever, and they are part of what makes the McIntire experience so rich. Two years ago, an upperclassman told me that I would get out of McIntire what I put into it. I believe this rings just as true today. McIntire is an incredible incubator and springboard into a diversity of fields, but you have to grab the reins and be intentional about your time here. If you do, when you’re getting ready to graduate in two short years, I bet you, like me, will feel both overwhelmingly grateful for the past and excited for the future.

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