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UPenn Alumni Interview w/ Jan N. | Part 3: Trying Things Allows you to Find What Interests You

Updated: Aug 6

Jan N. is a master's student at the European University at St. Petersburg studying Russian & Eurasian studies. He is also an honors graduate of the University of Pennsylvania in International Relations and Russian & East European Studies. In the Fall of 2019, Jan studied abroad in St. Petersburg, Russia, at Saint Petersburg State University where he undertook intensive language coursework in Russian.


This is the first part in a 5-part series featuring Jan's advice and experience.


 

Important things Jan shares:

  • "I emphasized my comfort with discomfort––concrete challenges, unique situations, and new environments."

  • "...trying things is important in order to ultimately find what interests you."



Q: What clubs or organizations were you involved in high school? Were they all related to one theme or passion?

A: I was in the newspaper club and track/cross-country. I was unsure of what I wanted to do and, in this regard, did not have a very “cohesive” theme going on.




Q: If you had leadership positions, how did you build up that reputation of being able to lead?

A: I emphasized my comfort with discomfort––concrete challenges, unique situations, and new environments. Everybody knows that very few high schoolers are already “leaders” per se––it’s about having the willingness and ability to learn how to lead in the future that matters. A leader shows initiative, and there are many different ways to show that.


Q: For some of your major extracurriculars, roughly how many hours a week did you spend involved in it?

A: It’s hard to say. Probably in the ballpark of 20 hours per week––athletics took up a lot of time for me.



Q: Did you ever prioritize your extracurriculars above your schoolwork or grades?

A: Sometimes, but not exaggeratedly so. I should have applied myself more in my classes and did not have a good work ethic (and, frankly, didn’t know how to have a good work ethic in the first place). That being said, I was interested in learning and doing things, it was really more that I was inefficient and often ineffective, at least in comparison to future me.



Q: Did any of your extracurriculars shape your future or are related to what career path you want to pursue?

A: Almost nothing I did in high school has reflected my ultimate career path.



Q: How do you think your extracurriculars have made you stand out for college applications?

A: It was clear that I was willing to work and challenge myself and put myself in foreign situations.



Q: Do you still continue these extracurriculars in college?

A: I do not, although trying things is important in order to ultimately find what interests you.




Thanks for reading!
  • If you were interested in this article, read more about Extracurriculars.

  • Connect with Jan N. more here.


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