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Growing up, one of my favorite children’s tales was one of Aesop’s Fables, The Tortoise
and the Hare
. I loved reading how the underdog or the unexpected character won the “race”. In the beginning of the story the Hare challenges the Tortoise to a race knowing he is the quicker of the species. But during the race the Hare gets a little “cocky” and takes a nap, gets a nice breakfast and before he knows it the Tortoise has won the race.

There are so many lessons we can take from this story, especially when it comes to your career development. At Northwestern University students may feel like they are in a race to the finish. That finish line could be the end of a quarter, the year or graduation. Here are some tips on how to be the Tortoise so you too can win the race.

Tip#1- Don’t be in a hurry to graduate

When you start your program at Northwestern you may go into it thinking you’re going to be here for 2 years (Graduate Students) 4 or 5 years (Undergraduate Students), but often times with the quarter system you fulfill your requirements so quickly that you can graduate early. If you have the ability to do so, instead of graduating early, plan to take a quarter to do an internship. There are many programs at Northwestern that allow you to stay enrolled, but you will be working at an internship full-time. Engineering students often lead the race in this regard with their Co-Op program.

Tip#2- Take the time to set goals

If you’re concluding your freshmen year or entering your last summer before graduation it’s never too late to set career goals for yourself. And you don’t have to do this alone. Make an appointment with a Career Counselor at UCS to talk about planning for your future or defining your career path. You should also consider making an appointment with your academic advisor to discuss courses and requirements to compliment your goals. Northwestern has a lot to offer, so step back and really truly take the time to see how you can take advantage of your time here.

Tip#3- Don’t let your peers discourage or pressure you

In the story of the Tortoise and the Hare, I picture the Tortoise feeling frustration with how quick and confident the Hare is. But the Tortoise didn’t let that affect him. He continued down his path at his own pace and ended up being the winner in the end. This should teach all of us that we don’t have to feel discouraged if our friends seem to have it all figured out. I’ve had many conversations with students who decide to try a career path solely based on what their friends or family told them to do. These students may have no interest in that occupation, but it seems to be an answer to their dilemma. Truthfully, these students are likely to be unhappy with their decision because it was made under pressure.

The end of the story of the Tortoise and the Hare states “Slowly does it every time”. So if you’re reading this and feeling that you’re a bit behind in your career development, don’t let that stop you. You are only in the middle of the race and your competition is off getting breakfast. Now’s the chance to focus on the finish line at your own pace.