The Collegian
Thursday, September 21, 2023

Key advice for graduates-to-be

This letter is addressed primarily to my friends in the graduating class of 2012, many of whom I have known since they were freshmen; however, I suspect the current juniors, sophomores and freshmen might be able to take something away from it as well.

No doubt at this point many of you are staring down the last week of classes, excited about graduation, but still unsure of what comes next.

For those of you who are going to grad school, have already landed jobs or are commissioning into the regular Army, the path is already somewhat obvious, so you can feel free to stop reading now if you'd like.

For the rest of you, however, I'd like to share my part of post-graduation experience as someone who has just undergone the same transitional period into which you are about to enter.

I hope to be able to perhaps alleviate some of the fear, anxiety and misconceptions that are all too real for a second semester college senior who has no concrete plans after walking across the stage in May.

The first thing I would like to get out of the way is that the vast majority of employers do not care about your major.

Don't believe me? I have two good friends who majored in international studies. One is now a web developer and the other is a human resources manager.

My roommate majored in sociology and is a commercial sales manager at a car dealership. I majored in Latin American and Iberian Studies and am a network and systems administrator at a marketing firm.

To most hiring managers, a four year degree indicates that you have acceptable writing, research and time management skills, can balance multiple obligations simultaneously, and can commit to something for a certain period of time. This brings me to my second realization.

When searching for employment, compare the skills you already have against the skills you would need to obtain.

My friend, the web developer, worked at the Technology Learning Center, my roommate had a hobby of fixing and talking incessantly about cars, and I've spent a lot of time since high school fixing computers.

No employer ever expects you to come in knowing 100 percent of the skills required for the job. What gets your foot in the door is a basic understanding of the fundamentals of the position and the industry, as well as a demonstrated ability and willingness to learn (this is where that degree comes in).

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Unfortunately, it may never occur to you that you can put these skills to use in an interesting way.

For me, it was the head of ROTC, Lieutenant Colonel Mark Thomson, pointing out that I had the perfect background to move into network or systems administration.

For my roommate, it was a bunch of us pointing out that if he wasn't going to shut up about cars, he should at least get paid for talking about them.

Finally, and I can't stress this enough, don't get discouraged.

Between the November of my senior year and the November of last year, when I got my current job, I estimate that I applied to nearly 80 positions for which I was qualified, was contacted for 8 interviews and received three offers.

One of the things working against me was that I was required to be in Missouri for four months, and thus had to decline two of the interviews; hopefully you won't have this issue.

Don't be afraid to apply to any position in which you have the slightest bit of interest and for which you are partially qualified, and consider every avenue of approach.

In the end, the job I now have resulted from a post I made on an internet forum.

To quote Henry Hartman, "Success is when preparation meets opportunity."

Best of luck with everything, and congratulations on making it through.

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