Jessica Henry
Student Writer

With commencement quickly approaching, the future is at the top of the list of things seniors are thinking about. In addition to finishing class work and making the most out of the last days of their college career, students are making decisions about the next stage of their lives. Options range from starting a full-time job to going to graduate school to taking a gap year.

If a student is struggling to decide what he/she wants to pursue, Director of Career and Professional Development Center Christy Hanson recommends reflection as a first step.

“In the midst of the busyness senior year inevitably takes on, it’s a good time to pause and actually write down their ideas,” Hanson said. “Reflect on some of the experiences that you’ve had over the last three or four years that have illuminated some of your skills and interests.”

The CPDC can be a helpful resource for students in their search. For students who know what kind of job they are looking for, the CPDC can help them strengthen their resume, practice interview skills, or review their online presence. Many students have a general idea of what they want to do but need help narrowing down jobs and companies to apply to. The CPDC can help them put together a job search strategy that usually includes identifying professional connections to reach out to and determining the best resources to search for jobs in their field.

“The reality is that this process is almost always more involved than we anticipate, which can be overwhelming very quickly,” Hanson said. “One of the things we hope to do be able to do is work together on a strategy and actually map it out into more manageable steps.”

Seniors are learning that it is not always fast or easy to find the right position.

“I’ve been looking actively since October and have had a number of interviews but still have not nailed-down a position post-grad,” senior public relations major Gabby Kurtz said. “In the midst of it, I have learned to be patient as the process moves much slower than you would initially think.”

The hard work will pay off, though, and once a position is offered and accepted, seniors can look forward to lowered stress levels and hopefully more time to spend being present with friends.

“Having a job for after graduation has alleviated the stress of graduation,” senior nursing major Alyssa Herr said. “I’m excited for what God is going to show me in this new chapter of my life.”

For students who want to go to graduate school, the CPDC can help them search for programs, write application essays, and collect the correct pieces for the application. Hanson recommends to search for programs, as well as talking to faculty members and professionals in the field to learn about their graduate school experiences.

If the workforce or graduate school are not appealing, seniors can consider a gap year program, which is a way to continue building a resume without making a long-term commitment. A wide variety of types of programs exist that range from international service to domestic internships. The CPDC has a page on their website that lists resources for finding alternative post-grad options.