Interviews that inspire, educate and motivate
May 7, 2020

COVID 19 & College - Katy Oliveira with Collegehood Advice

This mini-series focuses on how the COVID-19 virus is impacting and changing colleges and universities.

In this episode, I interview college success strategist Katy Oliveira, founder of Collegehood Advice.  Her popular Collegehood Advice podcast, coaching sessions, resources and presentations work together to create a 21st century toolkit that teaches students how to maximize their college experience and create a meaningful life.  She provides some tips about how students can educate themselves, gain experience and prepare for future opportunities.  We both agree on the value of education and a growth mindset.  Hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did.  Thanks Katy! 

Key Takeaways

  • When you go out into the world, people will want to know, "What did you do during this time?"
  • Planning is a part of preparation...and things often don’t go as planned
  • Give yourself compassion and space, if needed 
  • Grow your knowledge base, build a network and connect with other people
  • Realize that our pathways are not linear.  The 21st century model gives you opportunities to work in line with your curiosity, talents and passion
  • Learn about and lean into your strengths
  • College provides an excellent way to get every single thing you need to launch your life --if you do it strategically

Guest Bio

Katy Oliveira helps teenagers and young adults align with who they are, identify what they want to do, and intentionally use education and experience to make it happen. She is the creator of the
Life Launch Lab, a guided course to help you deepen your understanding of yourself and contribute your superpowers to the world. She is also the creator and host of the Collegehood Advice show where she helps students make the most of their college experience. 

Katy has guided thousands of college students through their college experience over the last 15 years in her roles as a professional academic advisor, college success coach, Associate Director of Academic Counseling and Exploration, and an instructor of U.S. History and American Social Dilemmas. When she’s not helping others figure out their life you’ll find her in a kitchen, near a garden, or on a yoga mat in Austin,Texas.

Please share, subscribe and review this podcast.  You can connect with me via email at or on Instagram and Twitter @judyoskam

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Judy Oskam :   0:02
Welcome to Stories of Change and Creativity. I'm Judy Oskam, a professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Texas State University. On this episode, I interview Katie Oliveira. The name of her company is Collegehood Advice. Katie is an expert on college success. Her popular Collegehood Advice podcast, coaching sessions, resourcess and presentations work together to create a 21st century tool kit that teaches students how to maximize their college experience and create a meaningful life. We talked about the current challenges with the Corona virus, and she offers some timely advice for our graduating college seniors.  

Judy Oskam :   0:48
My background is also in higher ed. I was an academic advisor for many, many years and and then an academic success coach, and finally I became an administrator. I was the associate director of a first year advising department and supervised eight academic advisers and success coaches to help students transition to the college experience, and I've worked with thousands of students from all around the world on their integration into college, how to be successful at college, and I always struggled to find high quality resources that I could refer students to just like I would a textbook or website or anything, right? At some point we moved away from work sheets right, and we needed multimedia options that were generated by experts. And so I think student experiences are really important and powerful and there are a lot of amazing student bloggers and podcasters and YouTubers out there talking about the college experience. But the challenge with that is it's only  from that particular students perspective. They don't have the width of experience seeing different ways that students move through the experience. They don't have the expertise and understanding of college student development and the college experience from an expert level. They can only share their own experience. And I just found over and over again. And students would come in and either feel bad because their experience wasn't like the influencers they were observing. Or they would do terrible things like sleep an hour, study an hour sleep an hour study an hour because I saw it on some blogger or some podcast, so, I decided to start a website. A podcast, a place online to share and curate resource is an expertise from all dimensions of the college experience to help students thrive during this experience and to do it in an intentional way that helps set them up for the amazing lives that they want to lead once they graduate

Judy Oskam :   2:56
well and and I always think that, you know, they've gone K through 12 and then they get to college and it's a whole new world, and navigating that, I think, is the challenge. That's the the adventure. But it's the challenge, and I'm so grateful to find your site. I think it really gives us some good guidance and some good tips. I have a college student in the next room, since we're doing everything online, and I I just have found some really great resource is. And I think recently you've done sort of ah, what do they do during Covid? And I think that's something I wanted to check with you about. What are you advising for students who are looking for internships or jobs during this crazy time period?

Katy Oliveira:   3:41
Some of the feedback that I'm receiving from students it's feeling like this is just a big old waste. That everything's been lost. My semester has been lost. I've been robbed this has been ripped away for me. I don't know what's gonna happen in my future. I'm so worried and I think that all of those feelings are valid. So I don't want to not minimize those emotions. I think that they're all normal responses to this kind of situation, and we're even having them. I've even had those moments. But I think once you have that emotional response, then it becomes up to you and what you're gonna do with that information and you have choices, you can take action. You can either have it be all or nothing, right? You can decide that I'm going to throw in the towel. This is a waste and you can lose this time in your life. And you don't know how much life you have to live. There's a lot of uncertainty. Always, it's just amplified and we're more aware of it right now. And so if we think about it, that way... today is the only day that I have to live. And this is time for me to prepare myself for my future, and I squander it watching Netflix because I feel like this is a waste. How am I gonna feel about that.. how is my future self gonna feel about that?  is my future self going to be like, What did you do? You could have done all these things. Now we're we're really are behind because we don't know what the world's gonna look like moving forward. And so what I say to this is planning is a part of preparation because things often don't go to plan. And the other elements of preparation that are wildly important are the things that allow us to be flexible and pivotable and to show up in the moment when our plans don't go to plan. And so I say, you know, give yourself compassion and space during this time to slow down and reflect and take care of yourself. But there are also some really tangible things that you can be doing, and you don't have to do all of these things. But there are some things that you could be doing during this time. To educate yourself, gain experience and prepare yourself for future opportunities. So some of those things might be doing remote internship, remote research opportunities, which I know for many are surprised that those are available. That and then also things like services are still available opportunities, especially if you're healthy and doing things to better yourself. Grow your knowledge base, build a network, connect with other people, make. Follow your curiosity right. These are all really important things that when you sit in an interview or you determine what your next best steps are in your life, you're gonna need that information to make good, educated decisions. And now is a fantastic time to do some of that stuff.

Judy Oskam :   6:36
You know, you know, it seems like if someone would have told us that you're gonna have two or three months of time, we would have been very excited about all the things we're going to do, and then it hits us like a brick. What do you say to our new graduates to that are getting out into a marketplace that's really uncertain right now.

Katy Oliveira:   6:55
Yeah, I think, um, one of the things that I think a lot about at Collegehood is pushing back on the narrative that I think we've been told that our pathways are linear. This is a 20th. I got this. I stole this from a colleague, but this is a 20th century idea that I'm going to graduate from the top of my high school class. I'm going to you get admitted to a really name brand fancy school. I'm going to pick the right major. I'm gonna graduate in four years. And if I follow those steps, I tick those boxes and everything goes to plan and I control every little detail. I'm gonna live a safe, secure, successful life because at the end of the day, we all enter the college experience to live a safe, secure, successful life. But if you talk to people who are 30, 40 sometimes who have checked those boxes and followed those formulas, you find that once they start  to live that life, they feel very dissatisfied. They feel that there is still uncertainty that they're not in alignment with themselves, that they've settled that they don't like the work that they do. And I know when we're young, we're just graduating from college is easier to think that's not gonna happen to me. But if you follow the same steps as those that have come before you, it's likely that it can happen to you. So that's an aside. All to say that the way that I like to think about it, instead of the 20th century model of ticking off the boxes to lead to professional job is that in the 21st century model, there are projections that are saying that you are gonna have more opportunity than ever before to do work that relies on your gifts. And so that's scary. But it's also amazing because what that means is you are going to be able to do things that are in alignment with your interests, your curiosity, your talents, your passions, what you want to contribute to the world. And so I think, for graduates who are just now graduating and feel uncertainty. You're not the first graduating class to ever experience this. I've seen this before in Katrina, when people were displaced or in 9- 11 when people were displaced or in the recession of 2008 or even the dot com bubble burst all the way back in 2000. There have been multiple moments where a graduating class believes they're entering one world, and they enter another world and every single one of those graduating classes, right. Those people are adults living lives doing things that are, it's making money and supporting their families. And so the key here is thinking about what do you bring this to the table and how can you pivot? How can you be flexible? Always, always, always, because this was going to come like this uncertainty. This shift in the economy was coming anyway. It's just become much quicker and much faster, which makes it harder to respond to. But I think in your early twenties it's OK to have uncertainty. It's OK not to walk into the career for your entire life. It's okay to have a job. I mean, what I graduated, I had, I don't know, five jobs that were not what I wanted to do before I actually landed a professional job. And then I hated that professional job and went to grad school, and it took me a little while to figure out my place because I had to experience different things. And so I think that's okay. That's a long winded sort of convoluted way to say that it's O. K. to have uncertainty. The trick here is knowing who you are and what you bring to the table and where you can fit those things in in any given moment in time for the course of your whole entire life.

Judy Oskam :   11:00
I love that I love love, love that. I have a graduating senior right now in college, and I think you're exactly spot on about the path. The path is a winding path and its individual and I really wish. And of course, it took me a few years to realize this, too, because I was trying to tick all the boxes, too. And I think life doesn't come with an instruction manual, and I think that's sort of what you're saying is be open to the changes. But be aware of your own gifts and talents, and I could talk about that all day. I think that's something students don't hear enough

Katy Oliveira:   11:39
Well, I mean, if we think about it there, half of I think the projections are that half of the jobs that these folks who are in college right now are going to ultimately work don't exist yet, so I can think about that from my own experience. Podcasting was not an option when I graduated. If you were to tell my 22 year old self that I was going to own a business and be a podcaster and produce a show and talk to folks like you, Judy, I would have looked at you like you have three heads. These things were not on the horizon, but what happened was I started to sort of take my next best step. That was in alignment with my particular knowledge skills, experience, network at every given moment and doors that I really wanted to be open, closed...and doors that I never anticipated. Opening opened and opportunities I never imagined would come my way did. And I sort of followed those breadcrumbs when they felt like they matched me and that led me to where I am today and every single experience I've had, even the ones that seemed like I got off track or that seem like a waste, like working at the  Olive Garden for three years. I have golden nuggets that impacted my work that I take from every little random experience I've ever had, and those all mixed up together to create me and in an economy that's based on you being self employed and jobs that don't exist yet, and you being able to showcase your talent. All of those little quirky experiences in that accumulation of random things is what's going to differentiate you. And so I say, Think about how you can leverage every single experience that you have because this is a collective experience. And when you go out into the world, people are going to want to know, What did you do during this time? How did this time impact you? We all have sort of the same starting line. And so those of us who learn from this time grew during this time made during this time are going to have something else to show for the time than those of us that didn't. Now I don't want to say that if you aren't able to do that during this time, don't beat yourself up. I mean, they're people dealing with real crisis, right health crisis, family crisis, financial crisis and when we are in crisis, we need to pay attention to that crisis. And if you have a crisis during this time, that's your story to tell. I overcame and lived through this crisis. This is how I problem solve that. But if you aren't living through a crisis, and you just are safe  at home, you know? Think about that. And what you can do with this blank slate that you've been given.

Judy Oskam :   14:43
I'm a StrengthsFinder coach. A Gallup coach and I really have found value in having students take StrengthsFinder so they can learn how they are, can use their best talents. And I think it really is valuable, I think, speaking of your path and how ah, one door closes another door open. What's a little known fact that you might want to share with our listeners about about Katie, you wouldn't mind sharing? Yes.

Katy Oliveira:   15:12
Oh, there's so many. You know, I think part of you asked at the very beginning why I do this work. And I gave you the answer of a college administrator. But there's another side to that story. I also do this work because I was the student who needed this resource. Not only was I the educator and the professional who needed this resource, I was a student who needed this resource. I changed my major seven times when I graduated from my very expensive undergraduate degree from Baylor University here in Texas. I signed up for culinary school. I do not end up going because I looked at that price tag and I looked at the jobs and I was like, This is not this is a hobby, not what I want to doAnd so I think I my road was really meandering. It's very easy to look at a website online and pictures on Instagram and be like Katy has it all together. Her stuff is sharp and she knows what she's talking about. Look at everything she's done when the reality is, as I've sort of stumbled through and made my way here to.  And I think that's the little known fact is that sometimes we see people and you don't think about. You know, When I was 18 I was pre med and I passed out in a lab and realized I didn't have the stomach for it. And then I was classics because I liked the professor who was in charge of the department, and then I was a history major, and then I was a cocktail waitress and I tried to go to culinary school, and I got married at 21 divorced by 25. Like I have done so many crazy things and learn from those mistakes and all of those mistakes. Your message. Your mission is often in your mess. Don't under estimate that. I think that if I didn't have that mess, I wouldn't have as much to pull from ...I wouldn't have as much compassion.

Judy Oskam :   17:07
Well, well, I love that. Your message in your mess. I love

Katy Oliveira:   17:12
I heard that somewhere. Okay, I did not make that. Uh, you know, it's very It's very important to remember that because I think sometimes we want hide our mess. We want to..... We're embarrassed by it. I think that vulnerability that accepting that you know what? I I didn't have it all figured out. And I still don't have it figured out. But this is what life has taught me. And I can show I'm a couple steps ahead of you and so I can show you the way. At least to this point.

Judy Oskam :   17:39
What do you see for Collegehood Advice in the future,

Katy Oliveira:   17:42
I would love to be like the go to resource on every college campus in the country. I would love that. I would be so thrilled if every college student had this as a resource to listen to and if we could even come. Hopefully one day when we all can actually be together, even come to call college campuses as a speaker to talk to students about these things. That's where I'd like us to go, have live shows and be a resource to augment the great work that's already happening on college campuses to help them focus on the coaching and mentoring and allow us to be a resource. A content resource.

Judy Oskam :   18:24
Yeah, yeah, I think that's a great idea. And I think partnering with career centers and career services as well as the counseling services so so much of your material is not just about schedules and achievement. It's about the college. You know, that person going to college, the individual it looks like, you know, you really try and hit mind, body and soul.

Katy Oliveira:   18:49
Absolutely. Because I really believe that you go to college to personally and professionally and develop, and you're not a robot. You are not a work robot. You are a whole person. You're have an emotional self, a cognitive self and a physical self, and you bring that with you to college and through your life. And so I think that you have to have an alignment with who you are and where you want to grow and what you want to dio. That has to be in alignment to get the most out of this experience. And so we often say, like, do college intentionally or make the most of this experience and what I mean by that is truly use it. It is a giant investment, and I have watched so many students just passively pay lots of tuition dollars and struggle to like tick the boxes, get their courses done and hang out with friends, and they leave so much of the personal professional development on the table, and then they walk away and are like, ooh. I didn't do all the things I need to do, and that's what I mean by make the most of the experiences to go through it and intentionally think about how can I use this experience to personally and professionally developed myself so that I and preparing for opportunities in the future

Judy Oskam :   20:08
the kicker is the growth mindset, and how do you deal with students that might not realize that that they're gonna have to change some of their mindset as well.

Katy Oliveira:   20:18
Oh mindset is so challenging, but mindset, you're exactly right. Mindset is so important in a lot of what we do is about getting in the right growth mindset. And so if you are fixed and you believe that you can't get better, that you don't believe that you're not evolving, then it's hard to grow. So I think the first step is becoming aware that you are a person who can change and grow and evolve, And one way to do that is to share the information. A lot of students, especially have never been exposed to these ideas, don't know, have been told how they are and have developed a persona around them by well meaning friends and family who have pigeonholed them into certain talents. And they are now in an experience where some of those personas are going to be challenged. And so I think, just by getting exposed to these ideas, which is part of what I like to do, every episode starts with a definition, and I think sometimes people are like, don't you think that's a little bit patronizing like No, because I'm that kid who I'm like. What does this word mean? I think I know what it means, but I actually have a misconception. But I don't want to ask anybody. So I always start with the definition. I always start with why it's important and what the misconceptions are, because I think that we get a lot of misinformation and we're just not aware sometimes of how our mindset in tax us how we think about our world, how where we are are self talk, our consciousness, our, our mind, this week's episodes on mindfulness. So these concepts that are kind of throwing around in the whirlpool of the Internet that are super important to growth. You know, young people, especially, are always exposed to what these things truly mean. And so I I think that that's the most important thing is just building awareness and exposure to the ideas and then letting through experience the student come to it on their own when they're ready.

Judy Oskam :   22:32
Do you think college and education can be, um, a great equalizer, where all students can come together and they all have an equal shot? I don't know that students really realized that the opportunity they can gain by going to, you know, higher education. Of course, I'm a big fan,

Katy Oliveira:   22:51
I think, to your point that sometimes students asked the question. Is college still a thing? And I think especially right now people are having that conversation. Is college still think? Should I take a gap year? Should I still go to college? But I still go away to college, and I in my professor teaching life taught American history and US social problems, and we looked at the stats. And if you look at the statistics, it is clear that across gender, race background that if you have a college education, you have a higher income and you have lower unemployment. It's just across the board. That is just the statistics. And I often think about where is that that idea that mythology about Is college still a thing? Where does that come from? And I think that it is a privilege. If you have resourcees where you can move your socioeconomic level up without an education, then probably you have some level of privilege. You have some level of resources you had a really great um you know, grammar school education. You have a network, right? And so I think that believing that you can be wildly successful without educating yourself now, I don't think it has to necessarily be a traditional college education. I think there's a lot of ways to educate yourself, but without educating yourself,  without doing the work to gain experience and exposure, that's kind of a sense of privilege. You can. I think, that if you, for every influencer on instagram that you see making big bucks, there are hundreds of thousands of them who are not. And so you have to keep that in mind. So I guess the thing is, is that you have to do the work. And college is a excellent way to get every single thing you need. to launch your life --if you do it well and strategically. It's a really great incubator. It's not the only one, but it's a really great incubator. You can get knowledge, you can get experienced, you could get exposure, you could build your network. You can get mentoring, you can get resource  -  in one concentrated, guided way that I think is really unique. Um, there are ways to do it without the guidance of University. And there are a lot of other ways to do it because I know that not everyone this is there's not a one size fits all. There's a lot of ways to get it done. But I think college is really, really a great way, and I think the statistics are there to bear that out. It moves, it moves people forward.

Judy Oskam :   25:39
It's gonna be interesting how much higher it changes with all of this now moving forward and the cost and everything combining with COVID and and what what people will seek out now to really spend their time and money.

Katy Oliveira:   25:56
Yeah, I'm curious about that, too. And of course, I I think it's hard for us to guess where where we're going. But I think that it bears out that even in an economy where you're self employed and self made, you provide a product. You create a service. You have to be wildly knowledgeable about what it is you're producing. You have to be knowledgeable about the content. You're providing the service. You're providing the marketing, the business, the communication, the networking. You have to be able to present yourself if you have to be able to communicate in the written and speaking communication multiple different kinds of communication. And so even if you're self made, you still have to create your world. And that relies on knowledge, experience, exposure, skill set, strengths. And so I think that it's important to remember that even asking, shift and navigate, which is why I ask you to focus on those things. Because even as the economy shifts and we have to navigate those changes in higher ed and maybe the the resource that higher ed provides us shift or the way those resources are delivered shifts or the cost of those resources shift, you're still going to need to educate yourself somewhere in some way to be really successful.

Judy Oskam :   27:23
I totally agree, and I just see that Ah, lot will change. But a lot will stay the same because of just that. And, uh, Katie, I want to thank you for joining us today, and you have a great website, great resources,  good information that a lot of our students and faculty can use.

Katy Oliveira:   27:42
Thank you so much for inviting me on. I really appreciate it. Love talking. I love talking as you can tell

Judy Oskam :   27:46
Great. You did great. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you for listening to Stories of Change and Creativity. Check out the show notes for more information about this episode, you can find this podcast on any of your favorite streaming platforms. Please subscribe. Leave a review and share this podcast with a friend. If you have a story to tell or know someone who does reach out to me at or Dr Judy Oskam at gmail dot com That's Thanks for listening.