By EMILY KEEHAN
Graduation is both anticipated and feared by senior students. For some, the day comes too quickly. For others, it can’t come soon enough. Personally, I am counting down the seconds.
College serves as a barrier against the “real world,” a realm where people have jobs, bills and double the responsibility. While kick-starting a career fresh out of college can be very intimidating and scary, preparation can help put nervous students at ease. Students should begin building their resumes early and continue to develop them throughout their academic career. A strong resume not only shows others what you have accomplished but can also be used to give yourself the confidence and self-assurance you will need as you begin the next leg of your journey.
As a senior who graduates this December, I have gone through every emotion: panic, excitement, fear, anticipation, indifference, forced ignorance, restlessness. The prospect of getting a job and working for the rest of my life with absolutely no fun or freedom does not appeal to me, despite the fact that I know, logically, that is not what the workforce is like. But I fear becoming stuck in an unsatisfactory situation.
I don’t want to have a job that feels like a job. I want a job that I am passionate about, that I wake up wanting to do, that always keeps my attention. I found such a job in the state government, working as a crew leader for the Youth Conservation Corp, but that ended up shooting me in the foot somewhat. I loved the job, the work, the people, but it was not a sustainable situation. It was in my desired field of work—managing teams to complete projects—but the position was seasonal, the wages were impossible to live on, and the opportunity for promotion was non-existent.
Most importantly, I spent my summers devoted to this job instead of taking internships with professional companies. I gained money and memories, but the opportunity cost was great. Money is not as valuable or permanent as a path to my future career would have been, but the experiences I gained are invaluable. I left the position with amazing memories and years of real-world experience that I can now apply to my personal and professional life—but no way to communicate those assets to future employers.
Once the semester began, I spent a month applying for one job. I had to craft, edit and finalize both a cover letter and resume. I had an extensive work history, but I was struggling to write a resume that pandered to the needs and expectations of future employers. The challenge is not writing out what I have done, but doing so in a way that would make me stand out. I was only able to achieve this because my advisor helped me every step of the way.
Whenever I went into her office she was always enthusiastic and willing to help me. She gave me a lot of confidence in what I have accomplished, and she helped me translate that confidence onto paper. I could not have applied for that without the help of this school and that advisor. This got me thinking, do students know the resources on campus available to them? If they do, do they take advantage of them?
Advisors can offer career advice and guidance and help you focus your talents and discover what your future passion could be. Some advisors have extensive experience with resume development, but if they don’t, the Center for Career and Professional Development offers appointments designed specifically for creating resumes. Through Handshake, a website that connects professionals with students, an appointment can be made and the resume can be developed in person or via email. Go talk to your advisor or visit the Center to begin preparing for your future.
There are many paths to success. Everyone has a different definition for the word, and different ways of achieving it. I don’t regret devoting my summers to something I love instead of seeking internships that could have assured my future. I want to have had those summers and still manage to attain my career. But I do wish I had begun preparation for the next leg of my journey earlier, so that I might now be less uneasy about the future. I hope you learn from my experiences and are able to weigh the pros and cons of every choice, just as I did.