Life After Graduation

With all the hustle and bustle of writing papers, cramming for exams and finalizing senior projects, students can sometimes feel like life after graduation is a distant dream. Graduation can seem like a mirage of a light at the end of a never-ending tunnel. The good news is that the tunnel does end and the light is real.

We all know that there are certain steps that must be taken to achieve a degree. Students have met with counselors and advisors that plan the road to success. Stay on the path, make good grades and you will graduate. What is unknown is what happens next? Once you walk across that stage and have a degree in hand, then what do you do? How long until you land a career? The answers to these questions might surprise you and will make the unknown seem a little less scary.

Rachel Strickland, MIS Technician I (Digital and Social Media Specialist) and recent graduate from Florida State College at Jacksonville, recalled the relief she felt after walking across the stage.

“It felt rewarding and like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I could finally say that I graduated college and I didn’t need to worry about any papers or assignments that are due,” Strickland said.

Judy Latronico, Director of Human Resources at EMIE Marketing Inc. and recent FSCJ graduate, recalled the feeling of excitement after hearing her name called at graduation. “It felt so good! Being in school for 5 years, it felt like I was never going to get to this point. So glad it did!” Latronico said.

It did not take long for these graduates to find themselves in careers, utilizing the knowledge gained from their time spent at FSCJ. Sophie Valade, a recent international student and graduate stated, “I was pretty much hired before even taking my finals.” Valade returned home to France a few days after graduation with an exciting new career waiting for her. Valade is a Chargée de Communication, which is the equivalent of Communication Specialist. The education Valade received at FSCJ helped to prepare her for the career that was waiting for her. “I felt like I fitted in right away so it was nice. I didn’t have a panic moment thinking ‘I don’t know what I’m doing,’” Valade said.

The culmination of challenging work and dedication makes the moment of graduating feel that much sweeter, but there is a sort of sadness in leaving behind the normalcy of college life that students adapt and become accustomed to. Brianny Julin, another recent graduate of FSCJ stated that, “It feels scary and exciting to graduate. It’s different knowing that a huge part of my life is over, until I decide to go back for a master’s [degree].”

Julin landed her job as a Creative Director before she even graduated. “I actually started training… in Miami and came back… and walked the next morning,” Julin said “I am currently using a lot of my photoshop skills… However, I feel that no matter how much schooling you receive and regardless of the amount of degrees someone possesses, a person can never be truly ready without having the real-life experience,” Julin said.

Latronico also received a job offer right off the bat, and her offer came from a company that had seen her hard work first-hand. “I actually got a job with my internship that I was doing in the spring. They offered me the job two weeks before graduation,” Latronico said. Having worked with the company as an intern, Latronico thought that she would start her career at the assistant level. Little did she know that fate had something else in store for her.

“I was originally supposed to take on the assistant admin role, but the old director left a week before I was supposed to graduate, so my boss asked me to take the job.  I was so nervous about starting the new position. I had some training before I started but I wasn’t focusing so much on the job I’m doing now. I was updating their social media and writing blogs for them. The old director was supposed to train me, but she left to go back to school.  Even though I was nervous about starting the new position, I took it in stride and did my best,” Latronico said.

Not all graduates walk straight into a career, days after graduation. Strickland confessed that life after graduation was a little stressful at first.

“Life after graduation was stressful in the sense of not having a job lined up… It took me about a month to accept a job after graduation,” Strickland said. Although it took her a few weeks, Strickland had patience and ultimately ended up in the right career.

“I am loving it… I have my own office, a desk top with two monitors, a laptop on the way, a work cell phone, my own office phone, and a badge to get in the building. I feel so official! I sit here and think, I am valued as an employee and for my knowledge, this is the real deal!” Strickland said.

Graduation can be exciting and stressful at the same time. All the hard work and dedication from the students will lead them to that stage, where they too can hear their name called out over the speakers. Once all the hype fizzles down, it can be confusing as to what to do next. These recent graduates have some advice for those who will follow in their footsteps.

“Take your time and don’t rush into finding a job,” Julin said.

“Keep moving forward… Keep your grades, your head and spirit up. You’re almost there!” stated Latronico.

“Be confident in what you know and don’t sell yourself short. FSCJ prepares their students well for the ‘outside world,’” Strickland encouraged.

Before you know it, you too will have found the light at the end of the tunnel.

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