Advice from your future self

December 2, 2019

Advice from your future self

Recent visits with Honors alumni yield valuable insights

Honors alumni from a wide spread of majors and industries (law, politics, public health, nonprofit, education, technology, the arts…) met last week with students (mostly freshmen) in Honors 100. Students say they are grateful for the ideas and advice and the alumni say the opportunity to reflect on their choices and current inspirations can be “somewhat addictive.” 

The visits were organized into 4-person panels spread across two separate days, but the themes that arose were nearly universal. Here are a few attributed highlights of the talks. We encourage you to Learn more about our recent speakers (and other alumni who want to stay connected) at the bottom of this piece.

First, check out their great advice!! 

Explore more! 

  • Nisha: Take classes that are really different from your major. Especially things that seem random or cool but you’re not sure what it has to do with your regular coursework.
  • Bryan: College is the best time to take risks on how you spend your time and attention. Later, you are always sacrificing something in order to try a new thing.
  • Sunil: I would never have taken a social sciences class if not for my Honors study abroad in Amsterdam. A lot of what I learned in that course and through that experience wasn’t evident until five years later. But I still draw from it in my career and I’m really glad I HAD to take that course. I also discovered my love of living abroad, so I have incorporated that into my work at Uber.
  • Steven: Make the most of the privilege of this education while you’re in it. 

Experiential learning + reflection = confidence. 

  • Kaja: The combination of experiential learning and portfolio requirements has turned reflection into a habit. Being able to know and tell your story is a huge advantage in job interviews and it’s not something most people have done. 
  • Bryan: Planning 5-10 years ahead may work for some people, but in my experience things never go the way you plan so it’s more important to pay attention to your goals and be flexible about how you’ll get there.
  • Marlena: A lot of people think the only way to get to where they are is to follow their path. They might have opinions based only on their own experience, but when you talk to more people you’ll realize there are so many different paths to get to the kind of career you want.

Talk to lots and lots of people.

  • Ben went to what he thought was an informational interview and found himself with a dream job. 
  • Nicole learned that professors actually want to engage with students outside of class and she found great mentors and friends that way. Especially when you are making big decisions, it’s important to seek perspectives from people off campus. 
  • Steven agrees: “Know what you want to do and be intentional but flexible. Get exposure to lots of ideas. Ask lots of questions. I interviewed a ton of people to help me discover what I wanted to do most and what a good pathway would be for my goals. Talk to people in careers you’re interested in.”

Redefine what success means to you. 

  • Kaja: I think I worried about everything, all the time. I can tell by your reaction that it’s the same for most of you. There’s a lot of uncertainty about yourself and the world and being a human is really hard. It helps to realize everyone else is in the same boat and it also helps to go to therapy, do yoga, and let go of the desire for perfection.
  • Sunil: It will get harder to measure success as you go further in life and that’s okay! Getting an ‘A’ is an easy metric, but it’s not the purpose of life and it’s not how you’ll grow in the workplace. 
  • Nicole: There are no dead ends. You’re learning so much more than content, you are learning how to learn and think. Have some faith in the process and recognize that you’re going to be okay. 

Learn about/contact our alumni panelists!

Big shout out to this quarter’s eight volunteer panelists! These wonderful alumni (and dozens of others) are happy to connect with students (and others in the community) to brainstorm, share stories, kvetch, and listen. Most of them have created profiles in our Honors Alumni Network, so you can learn more and reach out to them there, or find them on LinkedIn. Note: degrees were earned at the University of Washington unless otherwise indicated. 

Alumni visitors to Honors 100 smiling together in a brightly lit classroom
UW Honors alumni Marlena Bannick, Stephen Song, Nisha Nariya and Ben Lennon during Honors 100 visit, Nov 25, 2019

Marlena Bannick

Bachelor of Science in Public Health with College Honors and a Minor in Mathematics (2016); Master of Science in Biostatistics. Current Occupation: Researcher, Mathematical Sciences at the Institute for Health Metrics & Evaluation.

Stephen Song

Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Medical Anthropology & Global Health (2012); Master of Social Work. Current Occupation: Executive Director, Community for Youth. 

Ben Lennon

Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with College Honors (2017). Current Occupation: Communications and Public Involvement Consultant for Enviroissues.

Nisha Nariya

Bachelor of Arts in Economics; Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration (Finance) with College Honors (2011); Juris Doctor; Georgetown University Law Center. Current Occupation: Trusts & Estates Attorney at Perkins Coie.

Alumni visitors to Honors 100 smiling together in a brightly lit classroom
UW Honors alumni Nicole Gustine, Sunil Garg, Bryan Djunaedi and Kaja Reinelt during visit with Honors 100 students on Nov 26, 2019

Kaija Reinelt

Bachelor of Science in Biology with Interdisciplinary Honors and a History of Science Minor (2014); Master in Teaching; Secondary Science. Current Occupation: Science Teacher, Ballard High School, Seattle Public Schools.

Bryan Djunaedi

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with Interdisciplinary Honors (2015); Bachelor of Arts in Biochemistry with Interdisciplinary Honors (2015). Current Occupation: Product manager for internationalization and core user experience at; semi-professional violinist.

Nicole Gustine

Bachelor of Arts in Art History with College Honors (2002); Master of Library and Information Science; Juris Doctor UW School of Law. Current Occupation: Attorney, Washington State Bar Association.

Sunil Garg

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with College Honors and a Minor in South Asian Languages (2006). Current Occupation: Software Engineering Manager at Uber Technologies.