1 piece of unsolicited advice for my students

Dear Amy, Aneesh, Bob, David, Eun, Janelle, Julia, Kaley, & Stephanie,

Whether your grinding away at a job, learning cool and new stuff, or relaxing at home, taking some time to recharge before coming back to Penn, I hope that you have all had amazing summers. This upcoming year might feel daunting or welcome, but regardless, your Sophomore year is an epic one. As your TA, although I’m not on campus with you anymore, part of my job is to give you unsolicited advice. I only have one piece of advice, something I desperately wish I knew during my second year at Penn:

The importance of asking for help

You might think that asking for help is something you only do when you’re really, really in a jam. The problem is, if you really need help, asking for it probably doesn’t come naturally.

So whether your succeeding in a class, or failing miserably, ask for help. Go to your professor’s office hours to work through a challenging extra credit assignment or to your TA because you need developing a game plan after a poor performance on an exam. If you have every step of your career already planned or if you don’t know the first thing about a resume or a job interview, ask an upperclassman for help to take the next, or first, step.

There’s one thing I find far more rewarding than asking for help and accomplishing your goal, and that is helping others, however you can, achieve their goals.

Don’t ever feel like you’re burdening others by asking for help, just pay it forward when it’s your turn.

I hope you haven’t forgotten what I said in our last recitation together: that I am your advocate and your #1 fan. Please, don’t ever hesitate to ask if I can ever help any of you in any way.

Much love and best of luck with your Sophomore year,
James

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