Four years ago I started working full-time at this university. (The year prior I only worked part-time during the Fall 2011 semester.) When I was asked to return in the Fall of 2012 as a full-time academic advisor, I felt a bit like a freshman myself. I was assigned 300+ undeclared first-year students as advisees. Just like the freshmen I was advising, I had a lot of adjustment to go through, becoming a full-time employee again. During that year, many students switched their major from undeclared (we call it “Pre-Major”) to the major they wanted to study, but the majority stayed with me through all of their first and second years while they decided what it was they wanted to study. During that first year as a full-time employee, I came to know some of my students very well or as much as I could in half hour appointments.
As an advisor, I quickly learned that some students will only come to see you once a semester as it is required of them, and they have no desire to make any connections with you. However, making connections with people is one of my strengths. If I sense the window is open, I will take the opportunity to get to know a student. I don’t even do this intentionally; it’s just what I do. After making a connection, many of these kids would stop in more than once a semester, and some even became my affectionately termed “frequent fliers”. It is from these relationships that I feel a particular bond to the class of 2016. In 2012, I was just learning too. In four years, I have grown, just as I hope and assume they have too.
By 2015, all of my original students should have left the Pre-Major Academic Advising Office. They would have declared a major. In a parallel fashion, by the fall of 2015, I changed departments too. I accepted a position in the Career Development Center.
Career Development Centers are not exclusively for juniors and seniors, although it tends to work that way. In this past year, without my original students knowing my new location, they have stopped in the office in preparation for the real world. What a treat it has been to see some of them one last time, find out their plans, and re-connect before they move on. And, as they have left the office, I was left with the bitter sweetness (perhaps even more so) I feel every year in May.
So, to the Class of 2016, here are my last bits of advice before graduation:
- Get your documents in order. Ok, I will admit, this might be a little late coming. By now – you should have filed your application for graduation and made sure all your requirements are complete. If you haven’t – good luck with that.
- Finalize your resume. Most Career Development Centers are open through the summer. Most provide services for alumni. If you haven’t stopped in up to this point, you may want to see how you can seek assistance with your resume and see what other services are offered to alumni.
- Consider your living situation. Are you moving back in with Mom and Dad? Is your lease up? What can you afford? Remember, soon your school loans will need to be paid back. Moving in with parents may give you an opportunity to save money while paying back loans. Moving to an apartment may offer continued freedom, but you will have to balance rent with a new and very regular loan repayment plan. Weigh your options.
- Summer job/internship. If you still don’t have experience in your given field, now is the time to start searching for that opportunity. You might want to consider a paid internship. Check job boards regularly, look directly at company websites, and network, network, network. Securing a job takes work!
- Lastly – take pictures! Document it all! I feel like I don’t have to tell students this with cell phones and selfies. However, turn the camera on your friends, your campus, and the moment. In a few years, you will be glad to look back. You could even find your favorite advisor, and ask for a picture together….personally; I won’t mind.
I will miss you, Class of 2016. Best wishes, Mrs. D.