Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Looking ahead, moving forward

By Chelsea Whitton

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It wasn’t until I was standing in a bustling club on Canal Street in Boston last weekend, with music I didn’t know blaring around me, and people dancing all around – that I realized that I’ve grown older. Speaking to seniors specifically here in Amherst, I hope somewhere along the line you’ve realized this or soon will. It doesn’t have to be in a sketchy club in Boston, but that’s just when I realized it, as I sat in the corner and had time to think some things over.

It is a time of waiting for any senior – a time of transition. During one day last weekend I had gone apartment-searching in Boston with two friends. The shock factor of the soon to be reality didn’t set in until midnight that night.

Whether or not you are a senior going to graduate school, relocating to the work world or going home and figuring things out step by step, it’s undeniable that seniors are in a transitional process. Why I’m writing about it is because no one ever told me about how I’d feel or what I’d be up against in the process. But also something I’ve learned is, moving forward, you’ve got to give yourself some credit. I’m sure you’ve worked pretty hard.

As any senior, I am preoccupied with smoothing out the road leading to my future in just a few weeks. In May, I am graduating with 4,000 others. I’m not going to get all nostalgic on you – because it not over yet folks. However, I figured if you are like me in a science general education requirement class – learning that there are worms inside ant’s stomachs, and birds called Plovercrests – you really can’t apply this knowledge to the same importance as figuring out how you are going to live on what you think you’ll be making next year. This is how I spend my time in biology admittingly, with numbers, salaries and job titles.

My job search has consisted of spending precious time in class, scouring over the Boston Craigslist and for any job with the term, “marketing,” “advertising,” “editing” or “writing” in it. Then, after finding an interesting job, I am quick to send in an application because there are plenty of other competing applicants, and to get a fair shot at a job, you have to apply to many, many jobs. Of course keep in mind most of this is done in class. I don’t support wasting time in class online. However, if you’re feeling the senior crutch – it’s understandable.

I’m sure many of you have become experts at the cover letter writing process. Like an objective spectator, you write about your strengths, your skills and hope that the person reading it sees that you have somewhat of a good personality.

As expected, fear has been instilled in seniors. There are probably 10 regrets for every five hopeful thoughts going through your head, or at least mine. However, there is optimism out there for sure.

I remember last year when I asked my friends who were seniors about their future plans and they grimaced and said, “ask me later,” which always left me confused. I mean, the future after UMass held promises of life in the city or abroad. At that time I couldn’t understand how much of a waiting game the last month or two of college truly are. But here I am, and here you are: playing the waiting game.

From someone who stuck it out and studied a field that came with the tagline “you might/probably won’t make much money here” are some tips for the last month or so of school for happiness at UMass and also while looking forward to a sure to be promising future.

First, it isn’t too late seniors. Actually, many employers are looking now to fill jobs within the next month or so. I started applying for jobs in December and if I was considered for a position, I quickly wasn’t again, when they realized I wouldn’t be available until June for many of the jobs. You’ve still got two months to get your resume together. Go to Career Services, get advice and get going.

Secondly, it took me a long time and a lot of conversations to realize this, but you don’t have to have the plans all mapped out. Now, I’m not one of those people in career services who will tell you it doesn’t matter what you major in, because as someone interested in writing and print, I’m not going to go out and major in astrophysics. Point being, you’ve got to have some sort of direction. One of the most important things to realize is that as most seniors are ripe in age, comes positions which are frequently not dream jobs. Go for your dreams, but set realistic expectations. If an employer is looking for five to eight years of experience in publishing for instance, your résumé probably isn’t going to be considered unless you meet that requirement. When applying for jobs, make sure to always throw in a wild card or two, something a little different from what you had envisioned doing. It can prove to be a good decision.

Thirdly, don’t take your education for granted. No matter if you studied English or mathematics, it is important to realize what a position you are in, being a college graduate. I’m not trying to put stars in your eyes, but if you have an education, you probably have a want to do something important with your life, and make change – and it will pay off in the end, even with all of those student loans, which I have yet to think about.

Also, you should be proactive. UMass didn’t tell you what to do, the world won’t either. Do what makes you happy, and what you feel you can contribute to society and the workplace most with.

Lastly, take a deep breath and enjoy the remaining weeks. These are some of the last times you can skip class to soak in the sun with friends or go for a walk into town.

Chelsea Whitton is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected].

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