What It’s Really Like to Be a College Graduate

Graduation is just a few days away! It can be incredibly daunting to finish your college career, so Kira and Olivia have some advice and insight on what you can expect and what it’s really like to be a college grad.

Where did you attend undergrad and what degree did you earn?

Kira: B.S. in Biology, SIU Edwardsville (undergrad student body of 14,000)

Olivia: B.A. in Journalism – Public Relations, Indiana University (undergrad student body of 40,000)

Kira at graduation.

What was your graduation day like?

Kira: We had graduation at 11am, so we had to be there at like 10 to line up and get ready. Then we walked in, listened to soooo many people talk; it seemed like forever. I remember our speaker was not very good. She didn’t inspire me to leave school and go out into the real world, especially if I had to go through the things she did. I was so excited when they finally called my name because I felt like I was finally done. Then, we walked and got our diploma book, which didn’t even have our diploma in it. After, we went outside and took pictures and it was like 107 degrees and we had to fight for picture space around the pond around campus. Like, we literally had to fight people to get a good spot without people in the background. Then we went out to dinner with my family and I went out friends that night to celebrate.

Olivia’s graduation photos

Olivia: I didn’t attend the university wide graduation because I didn’t see a point in going since we didn’t walk across the stage or have our name called. I did attend the Media School graduation the night before, and it was very nice; brief speeches, got to walk across the stage and have my name called, and received a business card holder. Then I took some photos and went out to dinner with my family.

Do you miss being in school?

Kira: I do. I think I just miss the intellectual challenge and learning about things that interest me, so that’s why I’m going back to get a certificate in nonprofit management. I also went back and received my Masters in public health administration three years ago from Webster University.

Olivia: Not really. I love having a ton of free time and exploring the things I’m interested in. I definitely haven’t stopped learning though; I’m currently in the process of becoming a certified prevention specialist and a certified social media marketer. It’s great, because I can do these things on my own time AND my company pays for the trainings.

How was the job search after undergrad?

Kira: I actually started working with my post-undergrad company at the end of the spring semester before graduation. I found the job through my career services office and they worked with me on securing the interview and all that. I really searched for a field that was interesting to me, but that would also be helpful for what I was going to grad school in, which was health care administration. I knew I would get a lot of good experience and be exposed to a lot of administrative roles, but it didn’t require a whole lot of experience upfront; it could be learned through the job training. I stayed with that company until I finished grad school.

Olivia: Growing up, I was always top of my class and even graduated from IU with honors and on the Dean’s List. My job search was extremely disheartening, because I kept getting turned down or overlooked because of my “lack of experience” even though I’d had internships every summer since starting college. I found the CCPE job posting online and applied, and I remember coming into the interview having no idea what this job was and thinking I had made a mistake. The interview went really well though, and I was offered the job a few days later, which was about two weeks before graduation. My first day was the Monday after graduation.

What’s the best thing about being out of school?

No more gross 30 page thesis papers.

Kira: Not having to go to required classes.

Olivia: Not having homework or tests and having time to do things I want to do. Like binge watching Master Chef.

What’s the hardest thing about being out of school?

Kira: Right after school, I moved to a new place and didn’t know anyone. It was hard to get to know people because the social settings aren’t already set up for you (i.e. class).

Olivia: Earning people’s respect. At CCPE, our team has done a great job of listening to me and trusting me when it comes to outreach, but at other places, people still view me as a “college student” or a young professional who doesn’t know what they’re talking about because I’m young.

What advice do you have for someone who just graduated?
Kira: Don’t be in a hurry to peak in your career. Don’t be bummed out if you find a job and it’s maybe not what you thought you would be earning or doing, because you have plenty of time to work your way to that. Find something that’s a good experience and something you can enjoy going to every day.13962574_10154251450551265_1190844293127181749_n

Olivia: Don’t panic. It’s easy to be overwhelmed, especially if you don’t have a job yet, but everything will sort itself out. Also, if you don’t have a job yet, don’t jump into a job you don’t really want or go back to school just for the sake of it. Enhance your networking skills and keep searching for the job that will give you the best experience, because it will pay off in the end. If you do have a job, take advantage of all of the free time, but still keep pushing yourself to learn and stay up to date on the trends of your trade.


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