What I Wish I Knew

1. Your capstone project will somehow, someway come together at the end of the semester.

I don’t know if you believe in miracles, but if you don’t… then check out my website because there is no way in hell that I thought I was capable of doing all that, even if I had an entire semester to bring it all together. I doubted myself more than I can remember, and you will most likely, too. Your project may change and morph and see itself transform iteration by iteration. You might think to yourself that you’ve gotten yourself in over your head— that there’s no way you’ll have enough time to slap your work onto a website without it looking like a hot mess. But you will figure it out. Maybe it’ll be because you have all this new free time to fill once you’re forced to move home mid-semester and your only source of entertainment is making subpar TikToks, but I digress! 

2. The only way to do a project of this scale is to break it up into bite-sized tasks.

I’m talking minuscule. Don’t plan to record three podcast episodes in three days. Don’t assume you can tackle your annotated bibliography in an afternoon. This project seemed more manageable each time I listed out small, reasonable goals for the day. Think: transcribe ten minutes of audio or add captions to pictures. My absolute favorite thing to do is make long lists of trivial tasks, and while this may not be effective for short-term deadlines, it helped split up what seemed impossible and kept me productive each day.

3. Your voice is not nearly as annoying to everyone else as it sounds in your own head.

It may sound ridiculous but my biggest reservation about creating a podcast was the idea that my voice would be circulating the world wide web for anyone to tune into. My too deep, too nasally voice plagued with the occasional stutter. But each time I shared audio clips I was praised with how professional it sounded (granted, there was a lot of editing done to get it to that point). And each time I shared it in class or let friends and family listen in, I became more comfortable with the fact that my voice would be a forever artifact on the internet.

4. Use your mentors. They’re a requirement for good reason.

I hated the idea that I’d have to share my project with more people than anticipated, especially during the draft phase. I hated the idea, even more, when I couldn’t do it in person. Even if you don’t plan to meet with them on a regular basis, these are the contacts you can reach out to when you have no idea how to export as an mp3. Your mentors can change as the circumstances change, too. Some of the best advice I got was from letting my parents give a second and third pair of eyes on my website.  

5. You’ll be so grateful to push yourself out of your comfort zone.

I could have easily made this project as simple as words on a website. Don’t get me wrong, that would have been difficult in and of itself. But I’ve done variations of the same in the past and the best way for me to lose interest would have been to stick to my comfort zone. Taking on a new medium kept me interested throughout the entire semester and offered a new challenge.

6. Shit happens.

And on that note, global pandemics happen. We live in uncertain times and if this whole thing hasn’t blown over by the time Fall 2020 rolls around and you’re forced to live your senior year with two unexpected roommates (i.e. mom and dad), I feel you. If the majority of your social interaction in and out of the classroom is through a camera on your computer, I feel you. But this course is not meant to add to the anxieties and unknown that comes with this curveball. You have the power to tailor your project to whatever it is you want to commit your headspace to. Change it as many times as you wish. Take the day off. Take a walk. Take a breath.

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