By: Senior, April Wood
As I approached and finally entered the last year of my undergraduate degree, one question became an uncomfortably looming presence – What do I want to do with my life (and my degree)?
The truth is – I’m still looking. But I’d love to share my thought process so far.
In figuring this out, I decided to approach it with the wisdom I have gained from the UCM PR Program and its professors. I formed a rough vision of my ideal life. I took note of the values and morals I held. I also focused on what made me happy.
I asked myself questions; What do I enjoy doing? Where do I enjoy being? Who do I want to spend my time with? What do I want my work life balance to be like? What job will challenge my knowledge and experience with all of my favorite skills?
The answer is: I’m only 22.
If my life is in the form of the ROPE process, I’m still in the research phase. I’m in the bulk of that work now, and in one of the busiest times of life.
I’m reaching the verge of the objectives phase.
Values that solidified during the research and analysis stage will be present throughout the entire rest of the process.
Below is just a little more insight into my journey specifically and how I applied my skills gained during my undergraduate years in planning my future.
I enjoy embracing a challenge, but I love embracing one of my own creation.
Having control over my schedule is also a must I flagged. I need the flexibility due for several reasons. I enjoy learning, planning, and analyzing.
More and more, It seemed like starting a small business could be a solid goal for me. I’ve decided to tentatively embrace the idea – pending A LOT of time and work.
I’ve begun researching flipping houses as one potential small business idea. It’s a business concept that has always fascinated me. I enjoy creating and designing, I’m not afraid to pick up a tool, and I have a wealth of business, finance, and strategic communications knowledge.
I have experts and mentors to support me, a network of connections I have spent my young adult life cultivating, and I will soon have a Public Relations and Strategic Communications degree with a minor in Finance. I have a solid foundation of knowledge of how a business runs, how to make financing decisions, how to communicate to an audience, and how to develop a brand.
This plan is obviously going to take years of learning and saving.
What am I doing now to progress towards my goal?
Right now, I’m working to further develop my skills and gain as much knowledge and experience I can. I believe in life-long learning, which makes me versatile and driven. After graduation, I’ll aim to find a job opportunity to continue learning while saving money.
Ultimately, I just want to have a happy and secure life. If I can do it by running my own business, great, if I fail – it’s not a waste. Part of being a lifelong learner is never failing to learn something from a success or mistake.
So, this is what I HOPE to do with my degree – at some point, and maybe not forever. I’m just eager to see what life has to offer.
By: Hannah Staul
As I prepare for graduation, all I can think about is what the next step is. How do I know when I am even ready to apply for full-time jobs, when school is still in the forefront of my mind? I did the research for you, so follow along for a step-by-step guide, from the perspective of a busy college student. If I can do it, you can too!
Step 1: Accept Failure
You may have already accepted failure in some way, either failing a class or not getting into your dream college. Failure is something everyone faces, but knowing how to overcome it and learn from your failures will lead you to success. While applying for jobs or graduate programs know that not everyone will want you. You will be rejected. It sounds harsh but it is the truth, knowing how to manage it ahead of time will help you in the long run. The fear of rejection affects many people. Jia Jiang, author of Rejection Proof, provides a great example about his story of how he was able to accept “no” with confidence and turn them into a “yes”.
I have had to overcome failure many times, it is recurring. There is something new you can fail at everyday, so take each day with a grain of salt knowing that failure will happen. Below are some tips to prepare yourself for failure:
● Do not call it failure:
a. Thinking about the word “failure” it does not bring a good feeling. It brings back memories of past failures, a time where I was not able to accept it. Try using these words instead!
● Be Realistic
a. When applying for jobs do not go for the 100k salary position that requires 10 plus years of experience. Obviously, as a college graduate you would not have the skills or experience to accomplish that position. But don’t undershoot your skills, if you see an opportunity that you could potentially achieve, then go for it!
● Everyone Fails!
a. Michael Jordan’s story of success is one of the most influential examples of how he accepted his failure. Pretty much starting from the bottom as the draft three pick in 1984 he built himself up from there. Today he is a highly successful basketball player because he was able to accept failure. Be like Michael Jordan and accept that we all fail and find success after.
Step 2: Classes come first
You read that right, classes come first. College is full of fun, but try to keep in mind that you came here to learn. I am guilty of letting other activities come before classes, and let me tell you, there is no success from that. Yes, applying for jobs is important, but make sure you are doing well in classes and staying on top of your work. Below are some tricks I have implemented:
● Google Calendar: Keeps you organized with meetings and classes
● Reminders! My best friend, I use this app on my iPhone to remind me when work is due that day.
● Set goals: Accomplish the work you need to get done that day and then do the “other things.”
● Ask for help: Let your professors know when you are struggling.
These tips may seem redundant, or you might be a professional at getting your work done on time. Keep in mind that it can happen to the best students, especially when something new is added to your plate.
Step 3: Build your portfolio
Finally, some real steps for post graduation! Let’s review the type of portfolio needed for the public relations and related industries field. You will need to build an online portfolio, and some great websites to build from are Wix or GoDaddy. Digital portfolios can increase your chances of being seen by employers and represent your brand.
Your brand is the person you want to be seen by the professional world. Frame your portfolio around that person, the man or woman who is extremely professional and will benefit the company you are applying for. This is a professional website, so do not include going out photos or crazy stuff you did in college.
What should be included in your portfolio? Here are some of my recommendations: ● Resume
○ Downloadable version and a walkthrough of it
● Unique website design
○ Should include your brand personality: colors, fonts, professional logo ● Skill
○ Include soft and hard skills
● Works done by you
○ Press releases, designs, blog posts, etc.
● Short bio
● Professional photos
Think of your portfolio as an extension of yourself, and include the information you want people to see and know about you. Portfolios are great to share with potential employers, a place to keep your work organized and highlight what you have accomplished.
Put it all together!
As February comes to a close, start to think about what needs to be done before graduation. Do you need a resume or cover letter? Have you applied for jobs or graduate school? Make the list that is important for you and will lead you to success. The steps above are meant to help guide you through the next couple months and feel prepared to graduate from college.