Jessica Crowell resides in two very different worlds. After graduating from the University of North Carolina last spring, she continued her role as the Chief Financial Officer for Size Me Up, the online business she helped invent with her friend Melissa Adelman (who was profiled recently in this same series).
At the same time, however, Jessica keeps a foot solidly in the world of big business finance with her “day job” as an Interest Rate Derivate Analyst for Wachovia Securities.
We asked this multi-focused wonder to reflect on the lessons of her college experience.
What did you get right during your time at college?
I recognized early on that learning was more important than trying to get a 4.0. My opinion is that taking slacker classes that don’t interest you just to boost your GPA or pick up a credit is a waste of time. While many of my friends were taking geography 101, I decided to enroll in an upper level class on Emerging Market Economies…I worked really hard, but in the end, it completely paid off. I learned tons and networked with people that I never would have met otherwise. Since then, I made it a point to consistently pick classes that both interested and challenged me even if I would have to work harder to get the grades I wanted.
What would you do differently if you could do it again?
I would have gotten more involved in the international programs on campus. After being an exchange student myself during the 2nd semester of my junior year, I realized what an awesome experience it is to form connections with other students from around the world.
What is the single most important piece of advice you would give a current undergraduate?
Understand that as a ‘college student’ you have many unique opportunities that aren’t necessarily available to so-called normal adults—the two that come to mind are studying abroad and using your ‘student’ status as an excuse to get to know key people both on and off campus. A great example of this is Size Me Up, an online clothing sizing tool that my roommate and I designed during our senior year. By using our University contacts, we were able to network with everyone from former apparel industry execs to Venture Capitalists. We have been able to keep the momentum we generated, however, I think that it would be much harder to gather the type of support we received now that we are no longer in a college environment.
Describe one simple hack you found made your student life easier.
Whenever possible pick your classes based on professors and recommendations from peers that you respect (even if they aren’t in your major or area of expertise). It’s amazing how a great professor can make any subject relevant and memorable. Also don’t forget good professors represent a wealth of knowledge and experiences—take every opportunity to get to know the professors you like personally.