A Writer's 21st Century Memoir.

Learn By Doing: Graduating Into “The Real World”

My time spent at Cal Poly Pomona had taught me a lot of things. Among the incredibly valuable information that I have gathered, I have learned how to bs presentations during my brief stint as an architecture student, I learned how to write a fairly decent 20-page-paper in one night, and I learned everything else just by doing it on my own. In fact the motto of the University I had graduated from a couple of years ago, was to learn by doing.

I spent the majority of my four years as an undergrad working part time jobs, and interesting internships. The most interesting to date being the time I worked for a hypnotist. However, each position I have held over the years, each project I have completed, every piece of literature I have written has all contributed to what I know today.

All of the social and new media skills came from messing around with company accounts and creating and deleting personal ones. My writing, editing, and communication knowledge came from doing just that, and I continue to learn new things each day. And as my time in graduate school comes to an end, I find myself wrapping up another large project that has taught me how to build an organization from nearly nothing.

While tabling at an event for HomeAid Orange County, a non-profit organization whose mission is to help end homelessness through advocacy for the homeless, development of homeless shelters with the help of the local Builders Association, and service opportunities in the community, I happen to run into someone who had a huge vision for a new non-profit organization.

Create to Learn was the brainchild of Ann Herr. Her mission, through the organization, was to support and bring back the arts to students of all ages through funding of scholarships, advocacy for arts education, and arts-related service opportunities in the community. It was a brilliant idea, but it was mostly just that—an idea.

There was no website, publicity for the organization in the community, and no funding for anything whatsoever. As a class project, I ended up taking on the role of website designer, the public relations, communications, and community engagement director, and co-events coordinator. And somewhere toward the finish line of my academic career I have learned, not only how to manage a 501c3 non-profit organization, but also how to create one and help it grow.

I think it’s interesting how many individuals believe you can never get the kind of experience you need for a job or career without working “in the real world.” I believe it all depends on how you spend your time in school and what you make of it while you are there. You can sit there, read textbook after textbook and graduate without a clue of how to operate in life after traditional education, or you ask questions from knowledgeable professors or mentors, connect with your fellow students and colleagues attending your school or current position, and do your best to squeeze in an internship (preferably paid because the rent is too damn high).

As I look back on my academic career I feel incredibly lucky to have had access to my particular journey in education, not just because I was able to have access to higher education, but because I was able to learn as much as I have during my time in school. I don’t think I would have the knowledge that I do without Cal Poly Pomona, Cal State Fullerton, or even the hypnotist. If given the chance, I would definitely choose this path again. This path of learn by doing has helped me graduate with confidence into “the real world.”

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