Don’t Call It a ‘Victory Lap’

Don't Call It a Victory Lap

Ever since I was little, I’ve had big plans. They used to be silly things, like my sisters and I were going to build a lemonade stand, make $100, and then buy a Barbie mansion. As I grew up, the plans got more realistic and complex: make all A’s, get into college, be successful, marry Ryan Gosling (I’m still working on the last two). Whenever I talked about college with my dad, he had three rules:

1. I had to go to school in Texas.

2. I had to go to a four-year university.

3. I couldn’t live at home.

Looking back, I bet my dad intended for me to go to a four-year university and graduate in four years. Yet, here I am as a senior corporate-communication major, and I am planning my fifth year. When I tell my family and friends that I am a senior but I am not graduating, they all say, “Oh, you’re going for a victory lap?” But that’s not the case at all. Just like when I was younger, I have big plans.

While my major is corporate communication, I am working toward a career in the entertainment industry. I was so fortunate to have been selected for an incredible internship at the Conan O’Brien Show this past summer, and ever since then I have known that my passion lies in late-night television. My grandpa likes to remind me that Confucius once said, “Choose a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.” I am taking his advice to heart and pursuing the career that I am passionate about.

The University of Texas is a world of opportunity. I believe that we have the best of the best teaching, researching, and innovating on a daily basis. Our core purpose is to transform lives for the benefit of society and ultimately change the world. To do that, I need to experience the world. UT has offered me the most enriching college experience that I could have ever dreamed of, but in the entertainment industry experience is priceless.

During the fall of my fifth year, I plan to move to Los Angeles to take part in the University of Texas Los Angeles program and intern for a major production company. Then, while I am in L.A., I plan to begin searching for other production internships in London. I know that I will regret it if I don’t study abroad, and taking a fifth year will allow me to have that opportunity.

For some people, four years is more than enough time. For me, and the entertainment industry, I need a fifth year to build my résumé. By the time I graduate, I will have three major production internships on my résumé. Not only will this provide me with my worldly experience, it will also put me above my competitors when it comes time to apply for jobs. When employers look at that résumé, they will know I have a lot to offer them.

I am also aware that I am extremely fortunate to have such supportive parents that they started a Texas Tomorrow fund (a killer deal on tuition that the state no longer offers) for me when I was just 4 years old. Meaning that they have paid for my entire college education, before I even knew where I was going. Many of my peers will have accumulated a massive amount of student debt upon graduation, so for that I am grateful. Without my parents’ foresight, I probably could have still taken this crucial fifth year, but it would have been a lot harder.

I understand the big push for students to graduate “on time.” I even work for an office that is constantly creating new initiatives to increase graduation rates in the next four years. With today’s competitive job market, most employers don’t look for the perfect GPA but for experience. When spring 2015 rolls around, I will be leaving not just with a degree, but also an expansive professional network and meaningful work experience. What starts here changes the world—even if it takes five years.

Hillary Ann Plocheck is a communications senior at UT.

 

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