It’s official: you’re a college graduate! As the Class of 2017 gets ready to enter an exciting next chapter of life, we’ve compiled some top questions about life after college and beginning your career.
Seattle Pacific University’s “125 Ones to Watch” – GOLD (graduates of the last decade) alumni who are making an impact in a variety of industries and spheres of influence – share their answers to some of a college grad’s most pressing questions.
Q: With my major and interests, I see a couple of potential career paths. How do I figure out which to go after?
“Do a lot of informational interviews with people who have careers that sound interesting to you. It is very difficult to fully know what a job is like from the description.” —Kelley Riggio Brown ’07, Program Manager for International Health at World Vision
Q: After graduation, should I keep in touch with faculty and staff with whom I’ve worked or volunteered?
“The people that you meet and build relationships with can last and be one of your greatest assets after college. Make sure you are intentional about investing in those relationships.” —Philip Jacobs ‘08 (left), Hip-hop Artist and Leadership Speaker at The R.E.B.E.L. Firm
Q: Everyone keeps asking “What do you want to do with your life?” I’m not sure how to answer them.
“I’d encourage you to not put too much pressure on yourself to figure that out all at once; you have more time than you might first assume.” —Taylor Burgoyne ’08, Senior Pastor of Eastside Covenant Church
Q: So many people seem to have found their “dream job” soon after graduation. What if I don’t love where I end up?
“Significance is not what you do, but who you are. Be prepared to grunt it out in your first job while you learn the skills you need to be successful.” —Allen Klein ’11 (right), Strategic Account Executive at Microsoft
Q: How can I find a career that has meaning and value?
“Any advice I might give is best said by Frederick Buechner: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”” —Lindsay Nelson ’06 (left), Family Nurse Practitioner at Drs. Debroeck and Holleran Family Practice
Q: Now that learning will happen outside of the classroom and textbooks, where do you see opportunities to keep growing?
“Take time to unpack your own privileges and power; we do much more harm than good if we fail to wrestle with our own racial and cultural identities and how we impact those around us.” —Laura Wright ’10, Project Director, Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools at Rainier Beach High School for Washington Building Leaders of Change (WA-BLOC)
Q: I had a detailed career plan that I’ve been following, but everything has changed. Nothing is turning out like I thought.
“Sometimes life flips your best laid plans upside down … my path often felt aimless, but I can now look back and see how everything was so perfectly orchestrated to help me learn how to work hard, stand up for myself, manage my expectations, and ask for help.” —Nicole Soulia-Gatlin ’12, UX/UI Designer at BlueFletch Mobile
Q: What do you do if life after graduation doesn’t turn out like you expected?
“Be flexible with what God’s plans might look like, because life in partnership with the Holy Spirit is an adventure! Enjoy the journey and the process.” —Selamawit Bariamichael ’11 (right), Science Teacher at Seattle Urban Academy
Q: A lot of people are going straight into long-term, practical career plans. What if I want to spend a couple years doing something less typical?
“Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb and do something crazy. You have the rest of your life to be normal.” —Greg Ehrlich ’06, Self-employed Private Chef and Restaurateur
Q: We talk so much about our careers. How do you enjoy and experience life outside of work?
“Do all you can to steward well and save well so that you can give generously and see the world. Be brave. Don’t let the work that you do be the only thing that defines who you are” —Marissa Ukosakul-Witt ’11 (left), Client Services at Trutina Financial
Q: How do you keep moving forward and avoid getting stuck in a rut?
“Cultivate habits of action. It takes just a few “I’ll do that later” moments to wake up having passed through several years with little to no progress. Now is almost always the perfect time!” —Cory Shepherd ’08, Financial Advisor at Sound Financial Group