Letter to the editor
The future is uncertain, but there are ways to take control
Graduation, for many people, is right around the corner. This moment is the one you have been waiting for these 4 + years of college, but now that it is here, you might not know exactly what to do. There probably isn’t anyone who is fully qualified to give advice on what to do next, but we at the Student Voice have decided to take a shot at it.
The first thing to keep in mind is that learning does not end when you get your diploma. In order to build a career in just about any field, you will constantly have to learn and adapt throughout your life. Not even university professors are exempt from this – one requirement for their positions is that they must prove that they are active in their field of study, usually through research. To stop learning is to become stagnant, and that is how promising careers can grind to a halt.
Graduating seniors should also make sure to maintain any contacts they’ve made throughout their college career. Networking is highly important, and it doesn’t lose importance after you’ve gotten your first job. College is one of the easiest opportunities to begin networking since we as students are constantly exposed to faculty, staff and advisers who have already had long, successful careers in our fields of interest. Many of these people still have contacts within their industries of expertise, and are often more than willing to help their students get connected and find real-world experience.
Making and maintaining these relationships doesn’t tend to happen in one meeting. Building connections with campus faculty takes time and effort, and students need to be doing it all throughout college. This can be as simple as making sure that they know your name, asking questions and utilizing office hours when offered. Students who make themselves more visible to professors often come to mind more readily when employers are asking about new graduates to hire.
One of the best ways to gain both contacts and experience is internships. They often don’t pay well, if at all, but they give the clearest picture of what life in that field might be like. This can allow students to adjust their plans as they prepare to graduate, and internship experience can offer a gateway to higher-paying jobs. Student orgs on campus, though smaller, allow you to get directly involved even earlier and can help land internships.
Building a portfolio is also important. Our classes aren’t just there to make us miserable; their purpose is to build upon our experiences and knowledge and produce work that we can present to potential employers as proof that we are capable of entering that field. Many majors and classes encourage students to keep a collection of past work, and students should listen. Keeping track of your assignments throughout your college career could pay dividends when an employer asks for proof of what you can do.
The future is terrifying. However, there are definite ways to keep it in your control as you step forth from the protection of school into the real world.