Every college senior right now gets asked the same questions about our future plans. Do you have a job? What are you looking into? While the prodding, unanswerable questions get under our skin and the 7 percent unemployment rate looms above our heads, there are also moments of sheer panic when we realize we cannot file taxes, are clueless about paying utility bills and do not know the first thing about cover letter writing. How does a Biola graduate survive in the long-awaited real world?
At first, I believed that Biola should provide a ‘life class’ that helped us navigate all of this. While I still believe that would be beneficial for seniors looking to graduate with a job and some knowledge of how to live alone, there are also ways to seek this education outside of taking a class about it. As a senior graduating in May, there are some things I have discovered have helped and hindered in preparing me for life outside of the comforts of the education system.
Success: Off-campus housing
For the past two years I have lived in a house with nine other girls. Living with this many people under one roof continues to stretch my understanding of patience, community, cleanliness, differing opinions and compromise. I learned how to prepare and pay rent and utility bills, navigate relations with a landlord, handle every dispute one could imagine and most of all learn to love my peers in a deep and unconditional way.
Through class assignments and general degree requirements, I made many connections with professionals in my field. I made the mistake of not following up, not writing thank you notes and not thinking that they had any relation to my future. It would have been much easier to find a job if I had considered every person I met in my field as a potential employer. When everyone screams at you to network, listen. Those who network and follow up well are the ones who graduate with a job lined up.
Success: Working through college
I have worked both on and off-campus in jobs that have and have not directly related to my major. All experience, positive or negative, is good experience. If you do not have a car, get a job on campus. If you have a car, utilize the opportunity to experience life outside of Biola. On-campus jobs are convenient and provide you with instant community, and all of it helps build up your resume.
Failure: Career advising
I referred to Pinterest and Google when crafting the perfect cover letter and resume, when I should have gone straight to the Biola Center for Career Development. The newly launched Career Advisor Network is a great place to get things started, as well as BiolaLink to look for jobs ranging from small to career-focused. While Pinterest provides great ideas on how to design a cool-looking letterhead, the Career Center helps with content and might actually get you a job.
I believe it would be beneficial for Biola to offer a mandatory senior seminar class, similar to our required freshman year seminar. Although there are elements that are covered in Rick Bee’s Faith and Money course, as well as several courses on marriage, family and relationships, the holistic class would work on covering many different elements of post-grad life.