by JENNIFER HA
Sometimes, I wake up covered in cold sweat in the middle of the night because I remember that I’m graduating in four months. At any given moment, there are at least a dozen tabs open on my laptop about grad programs, internships, and resumes. Every night, LinkedIn sends me an email reminding me to update my profile but I’m not really sure what I’m doing on that site—it doesn’t have any cute filters or a box for funny statuses. On more than one occasion, I have made Google searches in the following sequence: “jobs,” “how to find a job,” “how to be Instagram famous.” It’s safe to say that I don’t feel very ready to enter the “real world.”
When I heard about that the Augustana Students’ Association was putting on a series of After U workshops, I was intrigued. The sessions ranged from resume writing to social media in the workforce to dressing for success. When organizing After U, fellow alumna-to-be and VP Academic Hope McDonald wanted to feature information she knew she could benefit from. “As a graduating student myself, it was important to me that [these sessions] alleviate some of the anxiety facing graduating students,” says McDonald. “My goal was to ensure that upcoming and future graduates of Augustana have the skills and tools they need to help them for after they’re done school.”
Between extracurricular commitments, classes, and one unexpected nap, I was able to make it out to two sessions: “How to Sell Your CSL/International Experience” by the Learning, Advising, and Beyond office and “Getting from A to B After Your Degree” by Kristen Cumming.
While I know that there is no perfect time for everyone, I think having multiple sessions of one event could be beneficial for future events as they allow more people to attend. When discussing the workshops with my peers, I heard many others say the session they wanted to attend conflicted with their schedule. The presence of cookies at every session, however, was an excellent choice.
At some point, both of these sessions gave me terror-induced shakes about my future. In both presentations, I learned that the job markets I’d be entering are undefined and ever-shifting. This means that I am currently preparing for jobs that may not even exist yet. And while most people in the generations before ours expected to retire in the industry their careers began in, according to Cumming, we are expected to switch careers seven times in our lifetime—with no guarantee of retiring from any of them.
Though these sessions were brutal reality checks, I left them with insights and tools I could apply in my quest for employment. Turns out the liberal arts education we hear (and sometimes complain) so much about means a kind of flexibility that we can mold into whatever we want in the workplace. Those CSL placements that were the banes of our existence transform into hands-on experience with real organizations on our resumes.
Our ability to think, research, and communicate may not set us on a path aimed right at a profession the way nursing or engineering does, but it does make us suited to pretty much any job we want to apply for. Both presentations emphasized the importance of marketing your education and skills effectively. As Augustana graduates, we are able to collaborate, solve problems, and find solutions. Our understandings of the worlds are interdisciplinary and fueled by curiosity and independence.
Augustana’s core skills were developed to keep developing, even after we (finally!) leave with our degrees—who knew? But Cumming warned us not to treat our degree as the final chapter in our learning. In order to survive in the changing workforce, we need to treat education as something to maintain—not recover with. Amber Basarab of LAB also emphasized the importance of ongoing development of the skills acquired through experiential learning opportunities.
Overall, After U reaffirmed my love for Augustana and pointed me to the light at the end the tunnel I face as I prepare to graduate. Though I am scared of what comes next, attending the sessions I did gave me valuable insights on my next course of actions. Had my schedule worked out better, I would have definitely attended a few more sessions. Graduating sociology major Micky Sutherland, who attended “Getting from A to B” along with Resume 101 and Interview 101, agrees: “I found the sessions to have really useful tips… I was nervous this entire school year about graduating and I now I feel more prepared.”