So here you are: College degree finally in hand, the allure of the real world sparkling with promise before you. The world is your oyster, right?
OK, fine. Maybe heading out into the real world feels a tad more daunting than you had initially expected. Luckily, there is no shortage of resources to help you make the most of the career path that you hope to follow, including those offered by your alma mater.
“Preparing for life after college is bittersweet. Understandably, it can be difficult to leave the place that has been your home for years, and launch into the professional world,” says Caitlin Trinh, director of alumni relations for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “But don’t think of it as a separation. Instead, your connection with your school is a long-term relationship.”
So, how do you successfully transition from college student to alum? Don’t forget your alma mater.
- Stay in touch with your classmates. Whether you participated in a student club or served as an intern during your college years, you know people. And people know people. So check in with them once in a while. Create your own LinkedIn profile and invite them to connect. Keep the channels of communication open. You never know who will lead you to a new opportunity.
- Become a member of the UConn Alumni Association. University alumni associations are equipped to support their newest graduates. The organization can connect you with a mentor in your chosen field, and exclusive invites to career seminars and networking events. Basically, these are events with people who are you – just a few years down the road – who are willing to give away their hard-won insights so that you can avoid the awkward mistakes they have made.
- Pay in cash. Resist the urge to put everything on plastic. Studies show again and again that you’ll actually spend more if you swipe, versus forking over your hard-earned dollars for another latte or the next iPhone. If you missed the senior seminar about money management, ask the Alumni Association how you can obtain that PowerPoint. The less you splurge now, the more easily you’ll be able to take advantage of any unexpected doors that open for you along the way – from relocating for a great job offer to landing the apartment you want.
- Share cool stuff. Don’t hesitate to share what intrigues you about life after college. Found an article online that spoke to you? Share it via Twitter. Want a professional’s opinion on your chosen career path? Start a discussion on UConn’s LinkedIn page.
- But remember to take stock of your social media presence. What sorts of things are you tweeting? Is your Instagram account filled exclusively with selfies of college days … and nights? Consider your social media presence as your public face.
- Tell your alma mater what you’re doing. At any rate, let UConn’s alumni magazine know so that your news can appear in the class notes section of the publication. That section is more than just a repository of news about births and promotions. It’s information that you and others mine to make connections.
- Try not to obsess over the ladder. You know, the all-powerful corporate career ladder. Only about 30 percent of Americans have an undergraduate degree. So although you may have some doubts, you are starting off on the right foot.
- Don’t forget your alma mater. At some point in the not-too-distant future, when you are interviewed by the media about your success, remember to note where you came from and how your education helped shape who you are. Your alma mater will thank you by sharing that news far and wide.