The unbearable lightness of graduating

The time has come to put the flip-flops, boogie shorts and fleece jacket in the closet. It is time to borrow your father’s tie, mother’s blouse or take a trip to Goodwill. Your parents, diploma, bills and loans demand it; it’s time to step into the real world.

The Class of 2002 has come to the crossroads. One direction points to the career path, the other to the unemployment line. Some will take detours otherwise known as graduate school or travel.

An exciting thought for some, a scary thought for most.

But don’t worry, you are not alone.

There is a common belief that if you have not majored in accounting, computer science or engineering you can kiss your job chances goodbye.

It’s written in the bathroom stalls, talked about in the classes and discussed among liberal arts compatriots. Are bachelor of arts degree grads destined to ask, “Do you want to supersize that?” minus the lucky few who will be asking, “single or double shot?”

It does not have to be this way.

In fact, Director of the PSU Career Center Dee Thompson has good news: “There are so many jobs out there that people just don’t know about … But there are jobs!”

Thompson says the most important thing is that students have a goal and an idea of what kind of work they are looking for as they approach graduation.

“I think that the biggest mistake students make when they graduate from college is not choosing anything.”

Resources such as the PSU career counselors and an online database that list jobs for students and alumni can smooth the transition, according to Thompson.

“Our focus is helping students get clear about what they want to do,” Thompson said. “Once we know your skills, values and interests, we can then say what kind of job fits.”

The Career Center also offers workshops for students to prepare for interviews and create the perfect resume.

These workshops stress that the key to a successful interview and resume is connecting academic abilities such as critical thinking, analytical, communication and teamwork skills with specific job requirements.

But no matter how good you are in interviews or how sharp your resume is, looking good and dressing sharp is emphasized.

“Dress for success. Leave your leather jacket at home,” according to JobDirect’s tips for graduates. “Sorry boys, the suit and tie are back … Ladies, suits are back for you too.”

Students that hope to postpone the real world and are willing to go deeper into debt commonly go to graduate school.

“Subconsciously graduate school is sort of a delaying of the real world,” Sarah Sabri, a future law school student, said. “I don’t feel like I’m ready for the real world. I feel like a need more education.”

The majority of students will dive right in to the professional world, hoping to find the right job and pay off loans and bills.

“You have to stay patient and persistent to get the job you want,” Clayton Slominski, a former PSU student, said.

Utilizing connections with faculty, friends and family is also helpful. Who you know does really count, according to career counselors.

For those who really need to save money, Nancy Dunnan and Jason Anthony, authors of investment and career books, recommend shopping at bargain stores where you can “cut your costs by 75 percent,” and learning to cook.

“The money that 20-somethings spend on food and eating out is mind-boggling.”

For the Class of 2002, the times of the past will come to an end as they step into the real world.

Or at least, so they think …


Set goals and make plans for the future

Visit the Career Center

Prepare resume and interview

Patience and persistence

Utilize connections, network

Dress for success

Learn to cook