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Before You Graduate

    By Sona Pisova. December 15, 2015 - 8:18 pm

recent-gradsSenior year is looming over me; I’m just a semester away from graduating. As I’m reflecting on my college “career,” it’s clear that I could have done more to prepare myself for the “real world.”

It’s kind of weird though, because I’m graduating one year early, not to mention summa cum laude. I’ve done two internships and had over five jobs in the past three years. Looking back, it seems like quite a lot to accomplish as a full time student, but a piece of my conscience won’t stop repeatedly nagging and chanting “that’s not enough.”

Whenever I complained to my brother, who has successfully graduated from UBC, (University of British Columbia, Vancouver), that I was too swamped with extracurricular activities or work, he gave me the same old response, “Just chill out man, you have your whole life to work yourself to death. College is about enjoying yourself, and partying.”

He’s said this countless times, and it always made me re-evaluate my whole college experience, and feel like I’ve missed out. It makes me feel like I should have had fun in the sun, skipped school, and adventured around the beautiful Hawai’i nei way more than I did.

But then my circular train of thought will bring me back and remind me—however sad but true—that even though my brother graduated from a world-renowned university, he ended up unemployed after months of seeking a job in Canada. He didn’t commit to any extracurriculars, had minimal practicum experience, and never ventured out of his comfort zone to meet professionals in his field. He didn’t even have a resume.

I know that I cannot base my opinions on one person’s experience. There are undoubtedly brilliant entrepreneurs who have made their fortunes despite not attending or excelling in school. However, with the economy just picking back up, and the job market being as competitive as ever, it’s really tough out here.

With college attendance more routine today than it was in the past, undergraduate degrees are simply not worth as much as they used to be. They are pretty much routine, and considered a baseline standard. In essence, just as currency and grades inflate year after year, so do college degrees.

Resolutely, graduating students are in desperate need of something that will make them stand out from the rest when applying for a job. After interviewing recent Hawaii Pacific University alumni, and inquiring about their experiences with finding jobs in Hawai’i, it was clear that networking, recommendations, and staying goal oriented were their keys to success.

A 2014 Bachelor of Economics, Andrew Rodby, explains, “The more people you connect with and get to know increases [the] chances of making connections either presently or down the road…find your passion and go with it.”

Analisa Cortes, a 2014 Bachelor of Advertising and Public Relations said, “A tip I would suggest before graduating is to find a niche you want to be in or company in the industry and start finding events or ways to meet people from that company. If you collect business cards from networking, add them on LinkedIn. Don’t be afraid to let people know that you are looking for a job after college, back it up with confidence and experience.”

Elise Anderson, a 2015 Masters graduate in Elementary Education, explains that you should never underestimate the connections you make with the faculty. “I was hired as a full-time first grade teacher because of the great recommendations I received from the HPU faculty members in my program. They were used as references in my interviewing process and have allowed and prepared me to be as successful as possible as I begin the first few months of my life long career,” said Elise.

Dylan Flemming, a 2014 graduate in Advertising and Public Relations, agrees that being goal oriented and networking is the key to success. “Life after college is definitely a time to find more about yourself. Take the time to think about your goals and reflect on your mistakes. Make sure you build a supportive team and never burn bridges, not unless it’s too shitty of a person,” said Dylan.

Therefore, in order to help you land the job you’ve always wanted, below are a few helpful tips from our alumni.

First, do your assignments as well as you can, so you can use them to build your portfolio. There’s nothing worse than slacking in your work, and having to create new content to showcase to employers after you graduate. Why not hit two birds with one stone and get an amazing grade, as well as create something you are proud to show off?

Second, don’t be scared of a strong, creative resume. I remember thinking in my freshman year that resume workshops were pretty stupid. However, as I realized a well-formed resume was more important, it turned out to my advantage. As said by my internship supervisor, I landed my internship, because “[my] resume jumped off the page.”

Third, stay goal oriented. Write down what you want. Visualize. Right before I started applying for internships, I researched all the advertising agencies that I would love to work for in the future. I wrote down a list of goals on paper, which was being hired in world famous advertising agencies, as well as local ones. Before I knew it, I got interview opportunities for three out of five of the local agencies I applied for. Furthermore, I now intern at an agency I love, and which was, believe it or not, at the top of my list.

Fourth, I cannot stress enough the importance of networking and maintaining good relations, whether it is with classmates, professors, or industry professionals. By cultivating and maintaining professional relationships, your network will spread even further, which will be advantageous for you in more ways than one. Who knows, maybe your classmate’s uncle owns that marketing firm you’ve been dreaming of working at!

Lastly, I just want to say that despite working hard for your future, you should also balance it with fun. College isn’t all fun and games, but it also isn’t all work. Keep a healthy balance, try to not get stressed or overworked, but don’t become a couch potato either. Having fun leads to being more creative, and having a more personable personality—one of the most important determinants when being interviewed for a job.

Break a leg, Sharkies!

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