A Graduate’s Story of Success and Helpful Tips for Following Your Dreams
It is a false belief that when you graduate from college, you are officially an adult and automatically know what sort of career you want and how to get there. Last May when I graduated from Radford University, I barely knew what the future held for me. I knew that I had a job lined up (which I was lucky to have), but nothing much else was set in stone. So if you think you will have all the answers and that things will just fall into place when you receive your diploma in the mail, you are in for a rude awakening.
The summer after spring graduation, you feel as if graduation was not real. Your brain still believes that you need to register for classes and get your living arrangements together for the following fall semester. You come to grips with it slowly, but eventually you are relieved that you have accomplished such a monumental milestone. Not everyone gets through college so you have to be proud that you did.
Some tips for finding your first job after college graduation starts months before it. Apply for at least one job a day during the last semester of your senior year. I recommend scouring usajobs.gov, indeed.com, and idealist.org for great job options. However, what government jobs need in your application are not the same as private sector jobs, so make sure to read up on the differences before you apply. You can also consider volunteer programs, like the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps. These are great options that graduates can easily do while they are young and have no other obligations.
I am currently in the AmeriCorps FEMA Corps program. It is a 10 month program of service in which you work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in disaster relief. Truthfully, it is a very difficult program to get through and some days I almost regret joining the program. The hours are long, you really miss your friends and family, and it is virtually impossible to save because the stipend is so small.
However, the professional experience I am getting from working in a federal organization and the amount of traveling across the country I am able to do on someone else’s dime makes me happy that I decided to commit to it. I also will have a confidential government clearance, have made many professional and personal connections within the government, and will receive an education grant of $5,775 at the end of my term!
For those of you who want to continue your education after undergrad, graduate school is a great option too. However, preparation for that starts before graduation as well. You have to set yourself up for success throughout your time in undergrad in order for you to even get into graduate school.
You have to take the GRE well before you decide to apply for graduate school in case you do not do as well as you expected and have to retake it. However, I had pretty average scores and got into my number one grad school choice. What is important when applying, in my experience, is your GPA and your personal statement.
Many of my professors at Radford told me that if you do not have a 3.5 GPA at least, they would not advise going to grad school. I agree with this mostly, but if you are at least at a 3.0 GPA and really want to try your hand at grad school, I say go for it. When writing your personal statement, it is important to be honest and unique in your essay. Make sure that when you describe why you want to be a part of the Master’s program, that you are passionate, and that your voice comes through. It can take a long time to write your personal statement. It took me months to get mine right.
When choosing a graduate school, it is important that you know that it is the right decision for you. You can always go to graduate school later in life. I knew it was right for me because I know what I want to do with my life; I want to go into human rights protection. So when I researched about American University’s MA program in Ethics, Peace and Global Affairs, I knew it was perfect for me.
I start at American University this August, and I cannot be more excited. After I am done with my service year in AmeriCorps, I get to move to Washington, DC and start my adult life. I have a roommate and living plans set, a job lined up in the city, and I get to start going to school again. It took a lot of work, and there is a lot of work to be done, but it will be worth it.
So remember, before graduation, set yourself up for success. Make good grades, apply for jobs like crazy, and pursue your dreams even if you may not know exactly what they are yet. If you need any specific advice about your future after graduation, shoot me an email.
Published by The Tartan at Radford University Feb. 22, 2017