DEAR CLASS OF 2018: DON’T PANIC
As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20. When Poets&Quants asked Class of 2017 alums to reflect on their graduating year, a lot had become clear to them about making the most of it.
First, those we spoke to are unanimous in saying senior year is mostly about two distinct groups: those who have full-time job offers and those who don’t. On both fronts, they say, it’s important not to succumb to panic. If seniors don’t have a full-time offer by the time fall semester kicks off, alumni advise them to immediately start networking when they return to campus.
“Seniors, you should be talking to your previous employer. Just because your internship is over doesn’t mean you stop staying in touch,” Carlson alum Tom Vosbeek says. “Tell them what you’re doing, how you’re improving. A spot may open up later down the road. Also, stay in touch with the career office. They’re the first to know when an opening becomes available or when alumni are looking for someone in your career field.”
In their effort to keep calm and not panic, Tong says, it’s crucial for seniors to remember that asking professors and friends for help is OK. “As seniors, people look up to you and it feels like you should know what you’re doing,” she says, “but there were definitely a lot of times I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing during my final year.”
‘THREE YEARS FROM NOW, WHAT DO I WANT MY CAREER TO LOOK LIKE?’
For those seniors who have a full-time offer locked in, Morgan Weber cautions that this isn’t the time to enter chill mode. “Do some networking to find out what it takes to be successful in your industry and what to do during your first 90 days on the job,” she tells Poets&Quants. “You learn a little in the internship, but it becomes a lot more real when you’re about to get hired.”
“Also, seniors should think about specific skills they don’t have now, but may need on the job in a year. For me it was Excel. I took a course in Excel to get my feet wet. I also knew I’d be going into the retail industry, so I took a couple classes in retail merchandising that focused on retail math.”
Vosbeek took a similar approach. “I asked myself this question: ‘Three years down the line, what do I want my career to look like?’ So I started targeting learning experiences that may benefit me down the road. During senior year, I did research on valuation with a professor at Carlson.
“I gained a lot, even though it meant time away from friends.”
BE ACCOUNTABLE AND HOLD OTHERS ACCOUNTABLE
For those seniors who may need help resisting the temptations of senioritis, soon-to-be grads might consider a buddy system like the one deployed by Barbato and his friends.
“I had accountability buddies during senior year,” he says. “These were people who lived in my entrepreneurship community. We’d sit in the common room until 3 a.m. drinking a few beers together and getting work done, asking each other questions like, ‘Did you hit that goal today?’ and ‘What do you need help with?’”
Barbato has continued this practice in his post-grad life and says he recommends business schools implement programs for students that emphasize the buddy system.
‘ENJOY THE LAST YEAR OF FREEDOM’
Finally, there was one resounding sentiment from the Class of 2017: Seniors, bask in the glory of this final year.
“Enjoy the last year of freedom,” Vosbeek says. “You’re never going to get it again, so it’s important to live in the moment and enjoy the social aspects of being a college senior. I juggled that with looking ahead and furthering my career.”
“If there’s anything you want to do before the year ends, do it ASAP,” Padda says. “Senior year will fly by the fastest. Anything on the bucket list, please do it.”