December 29, 2014

The Resolution Checklist for My Last College Semester

As Internet law requires, I’m required to write either a review of something from 2014 or some expectations for 2015. I’m going with a checklist of new resolutions for the coming year.

If anything, this list only applies to the first half of next year, not the whole one. After graduation my life, and so many others, will change so drastically it’ll require some whole new resolutions. But that’s a post for the end of May. For now, these are the resolutions of a student facing their impending doom college graduation next year!

New Things to Learn

With most coming grads, there’s death sprint to learn some last-minute skills. This happens when we actually start looking at what skills employers want to hire, realize we haven’t been learning them enough, and rush to learn enough to put them on our resumes before sending them out. Thankfully, no one’s being crazy and just lying to save time.

So the first part of my 2015 checklist are some skill loose ends to tie up. Going by my interests and what’s in demand, as well as this swell video I found, I’m aiming mostly for web development.

Improving jQuery and Javascript skills are first, which are what drive interactivity and general awesomeness on most web pages. There’s also Bootstrap, a popular framework that makes making web pages very fast and easy – it’s very widely used, so that’s obviously there too.

One area where I’m deviating is with PHP and MySQL, the languages that let web pages have dynamic content and interact with databases. This is outside my comfort zone, and most of my understanding, but is also extremely useful since it’s a foundation for making web applications. But it needs pretty strong understanding of basic HTML and CSS first, so I’d caution my fellow soon-to-be-grads from jumping into it too fast.

There’s also jQuery frameworks, like Angular.js and Backbone.js, which essentially make it faster and easier to make web pages interactive. But after a little study, they seem too complicated and far-reaching for anyone not working almost solely in web development. They’re maybe something to learn later on.

Career Tasks to Obsess Over

What kind of graduation year would it be without scrambling everywhere to find employment? There’ll be internship and job applications flying everywhere soon, but mainly, lots of networking.

Bonus points for students who’ve never done any serious networking before this coming semester, you’ll enjoy it the most. I’ve managed to get some good networking in before, but that only helps so much when faced with the fiery pits of unemployment prospects. Now’s the best time for a serious networking resolution, since companies know we’ll be on the job market soon.

It’s not just about networking and cover letters anymore. Employers research online presences too, like personal websites and social media accounts. Students who have sloppily maintained their presence, like making stupid and unprofessional posts, or simply not worked on it, like not making their own website, will probably get knocked from many potential jobs. So I’m resolving to keep working on both of mine and pray someone offers me a job over Twitter. It won’t happen, I’ll just keep praying for it.

If you think the job market is good enough to not worry about this, I’ll leave you with this completely true tweet:

Fun Tasks to Relax With

Even as a student, not all time is spent working and studying. For the potential 15 minutes a day not working or pretending to sleep regularly, we should resolve to set aside for play.

I’m aiming to keep my fun tasks short and sweet this last semester. The biggest ones include:

  • Talking more walks and unplugging more from the Internet. My philosophy is that when all your work is done on a computer, all your free time should be away from it.
  • Do more reading. These consist mainly of thought-provoking articles clipped from websites, graphic novels, the disturbing yet intriguing comment sections from news sites, political news, and anything new Dan Brown publishes. Standard nerd reading fare.
  • Drawing! At this point I don’t need, or want, to write about how much I love drawing.

The simpler something is, the easier to find happiness in it

It’s better to get pleasure from a small number of simple things, since it’s easier to do what makes you happy. As you can tell from the two sections before this one, any side happiness will do plenty of good.

Bad Things to Do Less

Considering all the enjoyable graduation tasks soon to be on our plates, my “avoid this” list is anything big that bogs down the mind. Unfortunately they’re also things I tend to do a lot, so they could be the most challenging to stick with:

  • Working with online television or videos in the background. While this can work in small doses, after a while even hearing hours of Jon Oliver ranting makes any work feel grating. This resolution is especially true for videos I’ve ready seen, since they don’t provoke new thoughts and instead turn the brain to static. No one wants this, least of all me.
  • Feeling worried about my identity. It’s a common effect of working too hard, since all work and no play can make Jack think he’s a robot instead of Jack. The “fun things to do” resolutions should cover this, though it’s harder on particularly busy or hopeless days.
  • Making negative comparisons to other people. This, along with many other traits this handy graph describes, can really hurt someone’s general success. They’re all good traits to hold onto or lose for 2015.

The traits of successful and unsuccessful people

Have a Happy New Year, everyone!