When I came to the College of Charleston, I had no idea what I wanted to major in. I felt like a lost puppy until I found the Department of Communication. Every theory I learned and every professor I met changed my life. One class in particular had the biggest impact: my Leadership Capstone in Communication. Taught by Dr. Beth Goodier, I learned so much more than how to be a leader or how to succeed as a young professional. If you have been selected for this course, congratulations! Your life is about to get exponentially better. Here are some things you need to know about this course before you begin.
1. Create a GroupMe with your classmates
Your classmates will be your best friends throughout the year. You will use this group chat anytime you’re confused, stressed or just want to say hi. Sometimes we just use it to cry about school. However you use it, you will be glad you have it.
2. Dr. Goodier will be your COMM Mom
We gave Dr. Goodier this nickname jokingly, but it stuck. I’m pretty sure half of our class has cried to her over coffee or in her office. No other professor I know has ever cared about me like she has, and I know other students can say the same. Let her be your COMM mom, and accept it gratefully.
3. Meet with Dr. Goodier for more than just classwork
Like I said, probably half of us have cried to her, and it’s not just because of her class. Senior year is hard. She sympathizes. I don’t go one day without messaging her. I told her when I got my job after college before I even told my mother. Dr. Goodier wants to help you succeed in any way that she can, whether it’s networking, research help, or just a good laugh. Side note: once you graduate, don’t stop communicating with her. I’m positive I’ll still be texting her each day for the rest of my life.
4. Hang out with your classmates
Writing 40 pages of research is hard, but it’s not as hard when you’re sitting with someone who’s working on the same thing as you. You can cry over your research together! They can make you laugh when life feels most stressful. You are going to be surrounded by incredible leaders just like you for the next year of your life. Spend time with them and get to know them.
5. Celebrate everything
Did you get out of bed this morning? Celebrate it! Did you apply to five jobs only to get turned down from all five? Celebrate your failures. Celebrate everything, for everything is a lesson in life. Not once, but twice, I had to email people for this class asking for a rejection letter. Do you know how hard that was? Dr. Goodier congratulated me because it was a mature thing for me to do. The point is, big or small, happy or sad, celebrate everything in life. Life is too short to not celebrate every moment.
6. Have a plan and a goal
Dr. Goodier will always tell you to have a plan. Our class was exceptionally terrible at this. Any time you do an activity in class, any time you have a project, have a plan. It can be wrong, and you may have to start over, but have an idea of what you are going to do. If you want to make Dr. Goodier roll her eyes, make your goal for a group activity be “let’s just see what we can do.” Setting goals is essential to having a successful class (and a successful life, really). This has always been my personal problem; I never want to set a goal if I don’t have a benchmark. What if I’m wrong? What if I don’t hit my goal?! I found out through this class what exactly does happen. Nothing happens. You set another goal, make another plan and move on.
7. Use LinkedIn!
If I can teach you anything, anything, use LinkedIn. It will be for a grade in this class, I promise. However, it’s much more important than that. I have set up job interviews and network connections through LinkedIn. Senior year, when you start freaking out over applying to jobs, LinkedIn will be your best friend. My profile is pretty bangin’, I’ll have to say.
8. Choose a topic you enjoy for your research
You’re going to write close to 40 pages on this research topic. Don’t write it on something you hate and don’t make it harder than it seems. I started my research on group development (which I hate), and all of my research ended up being on creating and sustaining organizational culture. It came out that way because it was obvious that’s what I cared about. Plus, I can say that I actually enjoyed writing a literature review on organizational culture. I’m a nerd, I know.
9. Don’t stress
Dr. Goodier won’t tell you this for the first two months, but she isn’t that strict on deadlines. Yes, she has deadlines, and you will be subject to a bad grade if you don’t get things in on time, but she cares more about your general understanding of the subject. Don’t stress about the deadlines. Don’t stress about your capstone work. I know that’s like telling you not to breathe, but you will look back at the end of this year and realize how much time you spent worrying that you could have spent enjoying life.
10. Say thank you
You don’t understand how far a thank you really goes until you watch your professor cry happy tears in class because of our class thank you video. Send thank you emails to every class speaker. Better yet, do it on LinkedIn. Stock up on thank you notes and use them frequently. Don’t forget to thank each and every professor that has helped shape your life. Gratitude goes so much further than a material gift ever could.
This may seem like a sappy guidebook, but very soon, you’ll understand just what I mean. One year from now, you’ll be wishing you could go back and do it all over again.