Seniors, you might picture yourself as a big fish on campus. Most of you have spent the last three years in the same setting, experiencing the hustle and bustle during both the exciting months when a new semester begins, and the grueling weeks of research papers, labs, and final exams. (I would not be surprised if you know exactly how many minutes it takes you to walk to the library from your dorm.)
Given this well-worn collegiate feeling, it is quite tempting to fall into a know-it all approach your senior year. While the goal after graduating high school was more about exploration and discovery, the goal after graduating college is professionally putting passion into practice.
So before making your splash in new territory, I have outlined four areas I have personally found indispensable for the journey ahead:
1. Choose your Send-off Wisely
Now that you are a senior, the full weight of your accomplishments amount to a degree and transcript upon your graduation. They cannot possibly detail who you are as a person, but it is truly telling of how you invested your time. Those two-three letter acronyms BA, BS, BBA, and three-digit number for your GPA will account for you in your last year and many years afterwards. They can open educational and professional doors or vice versa.
The proof is in the pudding, so make sure to invest in the right ingredients.
2. Strategically Plan your Destination
Taking time to reflect and research where graduates from your institution and academic background have ended up is essential to predict the success of your own trajectory. Visit your institution’s career office early and establishing a visible hand-on approach to your job search. Taking yourself seriously means others are more than likely to as well.
More than this, you will not be taken for any surprises if you know early on the kinds of positions and recruiters your campus is known to attract. For those seeking graduate school and beyond, professors, alumni, and graduate students are an invaluable resource. A good portion of those that comprise these groups have either taken this pathway or chosen a different route for various reasons and most definitely can shed light on the application process and likely outcome. They may even be able to aid you by writing a letter on your behalf or putting in a good word for you.
3. Strengthen Contacts and Connections
Soon you will have the honor of alumni status from your educational institution. Future Nobel Laureates, celebrities, and national and international leaders have all at one point called your campus home. As a graduate of the same institution, your pathway is instilled with a great deal of promise as you remove your cap and gown following commencement and put on whatever new hat you choose to wear.
Don’t lose contact with the change-makers and visionaries you had the privilege to meet as an undergraduate. Think of reasons to re-connect with your classmates down the road as you progress. If fate placed you on the same campus once, who knows if you are destined to see some of these familiar faces again? Try and be open to these exchanges, as you mutually carry the memories of college years.
4. Leave Room for Changes to the Plan
Many of us have a checklist of places to see and things to do before graduation. Some of the to-do list we put off for our last year is biting at our heels waiting to be realized. Whether you are that person with a mental pen and paper, taking note of the benchmarks, or just getting through your last year step by step, I encourage you not to get too fussy about the details and focus on the big picture of your education.
Avoid situations that might backtrack you from reaching your main goals. Inevitably, there are those not on such a bright track as you, having squandered their four years for other priorities. Do not be discouraged or misled by these individuals.
As small pond memories are almost at its end, brace yourself for the waves to come, prepare well, and let your dreams empower you.
Nicole Chacin is a Chicago native and student at the George Washington University where she studies business administration. Nicole aims to obtain a dual masters degree in Law and Business Administration by 2017 and ultimately dreams of working in health policy and administration. This is Nicole’s 2nd year writing for Forté as she had the opportunity to learn about the organization through the first Forté C2B Leadership Conference.