Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Question Every Graduate Dreads

Every time someone asks me what I plan to do after graduation, I cringe. Not because I don’t know the answer, (I don’t, but we will get to that) but because now I know how truly awful that question is. You see, before I was a student, I was an advisor. I may have even been YOUR advisor and I probably even asked you that very question – “So, what do you want to do after you graduate?”

These days, my immediate response is “panic, never graduate, hope desperately for employment” in that order. When people ask about my post-graduation plans, what I really hear them asking is, “What are you going to DO with the rest of your life? Do you really think you can find a job that is challenging, fulfilling and will allow you to pay off your massive student loan debt?” 

If I am being honest, the answer is I don’t know. But here is what I DO know… I know that I have amazing faculty who are ready and willing to mentor me. As an advisor, I always encourage students to meet with their Faculty Concentration Advisor. As a student, I took my own advice this semester and I found faculty who had great insight on their industries and great ideas about potential careers. I also found the faculty had suggestions and ideas I’d never even considered for myself, and I thought as an advisor I had this down to a science. I found faculty who were encouraging, supportive and engaged. 

I also know I have a dedicated career services team. Last semester, feeling brave, I took the advice I so often dole out to students and went to a networking event. I thought it would be worse than a visit to the dentist; instead, it was inspiring and motivating. I heard about the many different opportunities that are available right here in Albuquerque.  I met with employers who gave me great advice and helped me get a little closer to figuring out exactly what my dream job really is. 

From these experiences, I put together this top 5 list:

The top 5 things your advisor tells you to do that you should actually do!
1. Talk to faculty one-on-one. Go to office hours and develop relationships with the faculty. They can be great mentors and good references later on!
2. Attend Career Services events. It doesn’t matter if you’re scared, an introvert, or not even looking for a job right now.  The experience is valuable every single time, and we all know that Kate will help us network gracefully!
3. Get an internship! This is the best way to figure out if your dream job really is your dream job!  Complete your internship before you graduate and your student loan debt comes due!
4. Talk to your academic advisor (shameless plug here). Your advisor has a perspective you may not have considered and he or she knows their stuff! Don’t wait until a problem has become a crisis; see your advisor early and often.
5. Use your time in the program to find where your passion and talent collide. Once you find that, the question of what you will do after graduation won’t be nearly as scary.

Nicole is an advisor for the graduate programs and is currently pursuing her MBA with a dual concentration in Policy & Planning and Human Resources/Organizational Behavior.  Click here to contact Nicole.

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