Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Ready for Launch: Notes from the Young Alumni Panel

Earlier this month, I went to the last installment of the Senior Launch Lunch Series, and it may have been my favorite of them all. The event featured a panel of recent Tufts graduates offering advice to the current senior class as they (we) prepare for the big post-graduation leap. While the panelists had so many incredible pieces of advice to offer us, I took away some key themes common to all of their post-Tufts experiences, and I think that these themes are important for any Tufts senior to hear.
My thoughts on graduation.

Don't stress.
Of the four panelists in attendance, only one of them had a job the March before their graduation date. They all reassured us not to panic at this point - there is still plenty of time to find a job, get into grad school, or make a plan. All of the panelists expressed that regret over worrying away weeks of their senior year, only to have it all come together in the end (for one of the panelists, on the day of graduation). The effect of this message was like a collective sigh of relief from the entire room - let's try to keep that sigh going throughout the next few weeks.

Life after Tufts - there's a learning curve. One of my favorite questions that the panelists answered had to do with the transition from college student to full-time worker. To my surprise, everyone seemed to agree that working 40 hours a week is far less stressful than the college lifestyle. It's easier to leave work at work, to come home and relax without the constant specter of papers, exams, and assignments with fast-approaching deadlines. However, the panelists also agreed that too much free time can be a bad thing. They recommended finding some hobbies to ground your daily life in - whether it's running, regular meetings with old friends, or volunteering at a charity on the weekends. Being the overachieving Tufts students we are, it can feel uncomfortable to slow down sometimes - but there's more to do out there if you go looking.
Don't be a Patrick. Find some hobbies.

Your first job is temporary. Two of the four panelists had graduated last May, and already were into their second or third job. They both took jobs out of college that they thought would be exciting, or would lead to new skill development and networking connections, and realized that it wasn't what they wanted to do. But this wasn't a mistake in their eyes - they did learn a lot from the experience, and overall they felt that they needed to take that first step to know for sure that they wanted to do something different. We may feel like the next step is the endpoint, but really, it's just the beginning.

Maintain your connections to Tufts. One of my biggest fears about leaving Tufts is the imminent isolation - once college ends, we'll no longer be surrounded by people in our age group at all times, with friends whose schedules are as flexible as ours to enable frequent hang-outs. But, as the panelists so eloquently put it, you'll maintain the connections that you're committed to keeping. One panelist still contacts her professors regularly, and has frequently relied on them for recommendation letters and career advice. Another lives with a former Jumbo, who has since become a close friend."You may not miss everything about Tufts," one panelist explained, "but you will definitely miss the people you met and the friendships you made while you were here." So to all my friends and professors who think they'll finally be rid of me after May 2017 - you're dead wrong.
Sorry for all the Spongebob references - all this talk of the future has me nostalgic.
With less than 100 days to go, the launch into the "real world' is closer than ever. If anyone can prove that it's possible, however, it's those who have gone before us. If you know of any recent grads, reach out to them to learn any sage advice, or to reconnect with old friends. And, be sure to stop in the Career Center if you're still unsure of what the future holds!

Until next time,
Sean Boyden
Class of 2017