Last year during this time of year, I had just returned from a winter term study abroad trip in January and was just starting my last semester of college. I had no idea what I was going to be doing after graduation; I was just trying to get there.
I was overwhelmed with thoughts about my future every day, and if it wasn’t a teacher asking me about my plans after college it was a family member. It can be a stressful time to say the least.
If I could go back and give myself some advice, I’d have a lot to say. However, for those of you with a son, daughter, niece, nephew, cousin, mother, or friend graduating from college soon, here’s some valuable advice you can give them…or you can be the 30th person that day asking, “So what are your plans next year?”
First of all, it’s okay not to have a plan. During the spring semester, most seniors are trying to an internship, graduate school applications and job interviews.
I remember I had just started a new internship at NBC Connecticut, was taking six classes searching for jobs and interviewing. It’s a hectic time, and everything’s kind of up in the air for most people during this time, because you’re just waiting to get some good news. News that you have some kind of idea what you’ll being doing in the next six months.
You can start to figure that out slowly. Now is the time to begin to utilize your resources on campus. During this time last year, I made sure to connect with the Career Services center at my college.
This is the only time in your life that someone will sit down with you one-on-one and review your resume, recommend job opportunities, introduce you to alumni in your field, and give you some helpful tips.
Professors that you’ve worked with over the last year, who are in your field of interest, will often lend support as well if you reach out to them. Remember, they were in your shoes at one point, and most professors are in this career because they have a passion for being a mentor. Take advantage of it.
These are kinds of networking opportunities. You never know who a career counselor or professor have connections with, and if you’re motivated enough to ask for help they will likely be impressed.
Another networking opportunity is to engage with your classmates. By your senior year, you should be taking some of the highest level classes within your major. Look around your classroom; is there a study session opportunity? Is there time after class to ask someone a question? Networking with your classmates can also lead to opportunities down the road, and some of my best work in my senior year was a result of collaboration and revision by my peers.
You’re also in a good position to be vulnerable with them. Share your concerns with others most likely they’re feeling the pressure too, from passing their most difficult classes yet to jobs after graduation. When you’re stressed you can vent and remind each other that the finish line is in sight.
Oh, and remember to breathe. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Don’t be sad that this is your last time to be a kid. And in case you’re wondering, I still feel like a kid. I’m just playing in a different playground.
So enjoy the nervousness and excitement within the next few months, because graduation day goes by so quickly.
As long as you stay on top of your application deadlines for jobs and graduate school, an opportunity will soon come your way. Just remember to take it day by day and breathe.
Lindsay Carey is a reporter at the Southington Observer.