Hm. So today was a bit of a lazy week. I’m getting into the gist of my classes and internship, which is all fun and jolly, but I am certainly nervous about graduating and going into the real world. Every time I work on my thesis, every time I get an e-mail about the fateful day, every time I identify myself as a “Senior, graduating in May,” I absolutely freak about finding a job and surviving. Fortunately, there are a few resources to help me out.
First, there’s the Career Resource Center. This is the one-stop shop for all employment needs, including internships throughout your college years. Along with hosting job and career fairs each semester (there will be one in March, which I am absolutely attending), there are Wednesday Workshops, which are hour-long sessions on a variety of career-related topics (such as, but not at all limited to, resume building, interview skills, and dressing for success), and drop-in hours for resume advice. Set up an appointment, and you can receive in-depth career guidance and conduct a mock interview session. They also host several career-related websites to help with post-graduate success. I am incredibly excited to use their services in the upcoming weeks, and tomorrow I will stop in for resume help. Last year, applying for the UUP internship, I dropped by with my resume and cover letter, to which they provided real valuable tips and strong editing. After this drop-in, I hope to schedule an interview, or at least a meeting of how and where to search for jobs. I have some ideas of how and where, but it never hurts to ask, especially about something so important.
Second, there’s the PCA: Peer Career Assistant.
The PCAs! Over on the left you’ll find both NP Blogger Marissa and my PCA Tania!
These are specialized RAs that aid residents with all their career-related needs, such as resume building, interview skills, and more. Blogger Marissa is a PCA, so she could definitely give you info about her position from her perspective. Last year, my PCA Alberto (who now graduated and seems to be doing pretty well) helped look over my resume for my RA application, through its many edits and revisions, before I submitted the full written portion. Since he was on the Student Association
Executive Board, and I was on the RHSA
Executive Board, we recognized each other outside of Lenape Hall, and he provided the best wording for some of our shared responsibilities, such as–and I still use this phrase on my resume to date–”Advocated for student body at monthly meetings with the President and his cabinet.” RHSA and SA, as large student-governing bodies, carry out similar responsibilities on the SUNY New Paltz campus (and beyond, for SA, since it represents all students, and not just residents). Since PCAs are trained by the Career Resource Center to help residents with career-related concerns when the CRC is not open, you’re getting nearly the same experience to aid your experience.
Third, you have advisors and professors who hold office hours to discuss the scary future. Coincidentally, just yesterday one of my professors asked what I would be doing after college, presuming I already had jobs lined up after graduation. Of course, this freaked me out, because I do not and I worry about when I should start the applying process constantly. (Do you apply for jobs now and let employers know you cannot work until the end of May, possibly diminishing your chances, or do you apply through school functions since employers already assume you will not be able to start until after graduation?) Fortunately, although my advisor is an English Literature professor, many of my Creative Writing professors are more than willing to help out students with their post-graduate woes, even if they’re not their advisees. I just e-mailed one, and I will be meeting with her next week. Crossing my fingers!
And finally, there are always your friends to freak out with. If you’re with fellow seniors, immerse yourselves in nervous-breakdown-sessions, or more sophisticated pondering periods. Any friends who graduated? Share your fears: they will understand and guide you through. (My friend John, who just graduated from New Paltz last spring, really helps me out. There isn’t always someone who conveniently shares your same major and lives in your hometown, but those boundaries between years blur in college, and you’ll keep connections with those older than you, and willing to lead you into the perilous future with a guiding hand.) And of course, when you freak out with juniors and lower, their naivete will calm you down. Or they can be like my roommate Tatiana and friend Rachel, who both tell me, on frequent occasion, that they are glad to not be in my shoes just yet. While it doesn’t help my anxiety in the slightest, it’s comforting that panicking over the future, while bad for my stress levels, is perfectly rational.
You might think “I’m going to college; why should I think about the end already?” but time zips by in college. One moment, you are relaxing on the quad with your friends from Orientation; soon, you will scramble studying for finals. I’m not trying to freak you out. I want you to experience each moment fully, embrace the soggy grass stains on your jeans when you didn’t bring a blanket outside, ease into your notes and textbooks and work. When the final days draw closer and closer, when the “real world” suddenly approaches, you can sit back and answer to that little voice in your head “yes, I had an amazing time. I learned so much; I will remember these wonderful moments; and I walk forward with a brave face and bright opportunities.”
At least I hope so.