“What I wish I would have known when I graduated from Truman”April 29, 2014
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.” – Dr. Seuss.
You did it. You made it through college, got your degree… but now what? You’re probably getting an earful of advice from your family, professors, and friends, but who knows your situation better than a Truman alum? They’ve gone through it too, after all. We picked the brains of some of our young alumni who were in your shoes not too long ago. Here’s what they wished they would have known when they graduated from Truman:
Network your tail off. Networking doesn’t have to be a resume exchange, just expanding your network of friends and colleagues. Once you make connections, actually use them. So many people don’t see a great opportunity when it’s given to them. Follow up with people that give their business cards to you… you never know where it could lead to. Also, don’t get discouraged if you don’t land your dream job right away. Everyone has to work their way up in their career. It’s okay to start at the bottom of the totem pole.
“It’s a little known fact that most jobs are never posted or they are posted with a specific candidate in mind, because people fill positions through their network. We want to help people we know and believe in. The power of the social network is critical. Don’t just throw your resume in the mix with everyone else; research the company, figure out who you might know there and start talking. It might take some time, but it will go a lot further than you initially think.” – Baillie Cloyd (’09) Chicago Alumni Chapter
“I first joined the workforce as a temporary employee. I like to say I networked my butt off… literally! I joined a few fitness classes at work and met some great people who ended up hiring me in another part of the company. Also, it never hurts to ask. I first started out doing small tasks at my first job. Eventually, I got to know the organization and which departments had people that were overworked. I took the opportunity to help them out and learned a ton that I wouldn’t have if I just stuck to my job description.” – Stephanie Hall (’11) Iowa Alumni Chapter
You’re still a Bulldog so you can still use the University as a resource. Maybe the Career Center has been your best friend for the last few months. Maybe you have no idea where it is on campus. Either way, don’t be afraid to use this valuable resource after you graduate! Want help networking in a new area? Reach out to the Alumni Association. The possible connections are endless.
“My advice to new grads? Join an alumni chapter within six months of graduating! Give yourself some time to ‘spread’ your wings and then reach out to a chapter for support. Joining a chapter gives you access to different opportunities and connections to help you succeed in your new journey.” – Ian Vickers (’07) Mid-Atlantic Alumni Chapter.
“Use the Career Center! It’s never too late to ask them for help. Join an alumni chapter. It’s full of men and women who have been through Truman and have been where you are! They are the best people to get acquainted with and are also some pretty amazing people you will want to know!” – Jaronda Williams (’13) Northeast Missouri Alumni Chapter
It’s okay to have no idea what you’re doing. You have a degree, you have experience, so now what are you going to do with it? You aren’t going to have it all figured out, and it’s okay to feel a little lost and unsure (believe us when we say it happens to everyone). Even your friends who made the smooth transition into a job right after college will have their own uncertainties.
“Ten bucks says your friends feel as nervous and unsure as you do, even if they appear to have everything going for them (new job, new apartment, etc.), while you feel like you’re struggling a bit to keep up. So what do you do? Do what makes you happy, continue to make time for family and friends and rely on that support system. You’ll be the support system for your buddies and they’ll be yours.” – Jean Kaul (’09) Iowa Alumni Chapter
“Remain positive and persistent when applying for jobs. Every time I got rejected, I kept telling myself that a better position was waiting for me, and honestly, there was! Your attitude plays a major role and luckily you have control over it. Take chances, be confident and don’t let anyone tell you you’re incapable of something.” – Nena Koseva (’13) St. Louis Alumni Chapter
Never stop learning. So, let’s say your first job out of school isn’t necessarily your dream one and you feel like your finely honed skills are getting a bit rusty. Don’t let them! Volunteer your talents, join a club (or alumni chapter!), take classes through a local community college/parks and rec center/etc., or even find someone in your field to act as a mentor.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. It’s amazing how many people are willing to give you a chance to pick their brain over coffee, or just to get general advice. Follow up with these people and let them know what you’ve done to take their advice or any recent successes. It reaffirms their decision to help you was worth both of your time.” – Stephanie Hall (’11) Iowa Alumni Chapter
“Volunteer! Whether you give your time to a local charity or just offer to coordinate a fun food day at work, taking the initiative boosts your confidence, helps others get to know you, and builds skills that will flow into other areas of your professional and personal life.” – Hope Harms (’07) Kansas City Alumni Chapter
Have fun, obviously. For some, this is a very stressful time. You’re an adult, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun in the process. You’ve earned it! In 20 or 30 years, you won’t have as much free time as you do now. Travel, experience new things, relax, read books you weren’t able to while in college! The possibilities are endless and make graduating seem a lot less terrifying.
“Take advantage of everything! You may be ready to leave Truman, but don’t check out on all of the fun things happening on campus. Send out those cheesy graduation announcements and brag to the world about your success!” – Jaronda Williams (’13) Northeast Missouri Alumni Chapter
“Though this can be a scary time (the opportunities are endless), it can also be extremely exciting (the opportunities are endless). Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself, knowing that success often follows doses of failure. And that’s okay. If things don’t work out, you have plenty of time to figure it out.” – Jean Kaul (’09) Iowa Alumni Chapter
Hopefully our experts have helped ease your minds. Graduation is a pivotal moment in your life, but that doesn’t mean you have to completely grow up. Enjoy these next few months. Explore the world around you and all of the opportunities there are. You’ll be surprised at what you discover.
From the Truman State University Alumni Association, CONGRATULATIONS! Please keep us updated with your success stories, life-changing moments, and new adventures, so we can keep you connected with the University as well.