Recent graduates share insight on life after USF and preparing for it.
If college is considered to be the best years of our lives, then how exactly are we supposed to classify the years that follow? For many American college students, much of the four years spent at university consists of walking the line between enjoying the ride before entering the real world, while also using these crazy years to prepare us for it. The “work hard, play hard” mentality of college culture is much easier said than done, and translating this way of life to the real world can be challenging.
For recent USF graduates Robert Tye, Foster Johnson and Ajouni Singh, life after college has been filled with new perspectives, new plans, and life questions that could challenge those from a USF philosophy class. Here they share their stories and tips for navigating work and life after college in San Francisco.
Robert Tye, who graduated in spring 2013 with a degree in Business Administration, stresses the importance of internships and networking: “Don’t wait until your latter years of college for internships” is his main advice to freshman. “I know it’s easy to work at school or retail/service, but apply to internships,” he said.
Utilizing internships is how Tye landed a job doing Business Development for Apttus, a Salesforce.com partner located in San Mateo, that helps companies deliver relevant content and customer service online through self-learning technology. “USF provided me with a great network,” said Tye, “creating relationships with my professors opened up quite a few doors for me. I can’t tell you how many events I went to outside of USF in order to expand my network.”
For Foster Johnson, who graduated in spring 2013 with a BA in Media Studies, the summer after graduation was his time to figure out just what he wanted to do. He spent time in Iowa with family before returning to the city to try and navigate through the job market. “Over the summer I tried to figure out what I could do with my degree and had applied to a couple jobs unsuccessfully,” Johnson said.
An unsuccessful job search is what made him realize what he really wanted to do and the steps he could take to stand. “I started thinking where do I want to specialize, the big picture, and how can I make money and be happy,” he said, and after doing a brief stint as a bike messenger in the city, Johnson made the decision to attend audio school in downtown San Francisco at Pyramind. “I decided to go and learn more about audio and music because I love music and can see doing that for the rest of my life,” he said.
Like Tye, Johnson also stressed the importance of doing internships while in college: “Graduating college and not knowing your next move is very stressful; I would tell students to intern while in college to build connections because I never did that,” Johnson said.
While both graduates believe taking matters into your own hands is beneficial, they had similar suggestions for what USF could also do to prepare students for post graduate life: “I’m currently taking a class at Pyramind called ‘Planning for Success,’ and I think if USF could offer more resources to students to plan their lives out, it would help prepare students for life after graduation,” Johnson said.
Tye shared similar thoughts as to what he thinks would have been beneficial in retrospect: “I wish I would have taken a few classes inside or outside of school, like introductory web development classes or some sort of personal finance classes to be self-sufficient in stocks and bonds,” he said.
Ajouni Singh graduated last semester, December 2013, with a degree in communication studies major and a minor in business. She believes current USF students are in good hands, saying, “USF does a great job at preparing graduates on what it really takes to succeed after graduation. I know many complain about public speaking classes, philosophy, some of the basic core classes we have to take to graduate; however, it brings you into the world more prepared and intelligent and able to succeed,” she said.
Like Tye and Johnson, Singh also believes that there are areas for improvement: “I would just like it to be more aware how many resources there are available to students of all majors. I was able to receive great access to [USF’s] Career Services Center, and our alumni network and I am grateful, but I have heard of other majors not having the same privilege,” she said. “It would be great for our career fairs to hold a wider range of professional paths to allow students to not be discouraged about their passions.”
Singh believes that taking advantage of the resources USF has to offer is what influenced her appeal in the job market, and what landed her a job at Sparks, a Global Event Marketing Agency in Burlingame, CA, where she now works as a Junior Account Manager for one of the company’s largest clients on their tradeshow and exhibition team.
Singh encourages freshman students to get the ball rolling as soon as they find out what they want to do: “Getting involved and building a network and a support system at USF so quickly after starting is what made me really appreciate the university. Whatever it is that you choose to get involved in, I can guarantee you will not regret it once you find the right fit. Getting involved gave me the confidence necessary to obtain a job in my field so soon after graduation.”
Feeling the need to secure a job directly after graduation is a lot of pressure, and Tye and Singh both sympathize with students currently in this situation. “If you’re getting all worked up about your first job — don’t,” said Tye.
Singh also believes students need to take things one step at a time. “I would tell [students] not be discouraged by the job search, and to make whatever decision they feel best fits them for post-graduation,” she said. “I know finding a job immediately is not for everyone, so there should not be pressure if that isn’t what seems right.”
Finding a job is only one piece of the puzzle, adjusting to working life is another aftershock, as well. “The biggest adjustment is realizing that the whole working thing is permanent. I’ve always had jobs during college, but have had the luxuries of long breaks to spend traveling, being with family and friends,” said Tye. “School can always be an excuse to get out of work. Now, I have no more excuses.” Tye works east coast hours for Apptus, from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. five days a week. “I go to the gym before work so I wake up at 4:30 a.m. [and] I go to bed literally at 8:30 p.m. every night. I feel like an old man,” he said.
For students near graduation, Tye, Johnson and Singh agree that it’s all about connections, in more ways than just networking: “Reach out to as many people as possible in their respective fields, or even anything close, and start connecting,” said Signh. “Regardless of the industry, human connection has great influence. While I did not get my job because of anyone I knew, I was able to speak intelligently about the industry and the position I was pursuing because of previous conversations with mentors,” she said.
Tye encourages students to be “shameless” in their pursuit for job openings: “Exhaust your network. Ask teachers, friends, family, and old coworkers about opportunities. Bug everybody,” he said.
Last 5 posts by Michelle Doyle
- Game Over? Social Media Drinking Game, NekNominate, Kills Five Young Adults in U.K. - March 4th, 2014
- USF May Ban Tobacco - February 26th, 2014
- Journalism for Global Crisis - February 26th, 2014
- Study Abroad: Experience the World and Still Graduate on Time - February 6th, 2014
- Walk the Walk, Talk the Talk: USFers Take to the Streets to Raise Funds for Rape Victims - May 2nd, 2013