What to do after the diploma

Newspaper 55

Myah Clinton
Blazer News Reporter

As graduation approaches, many UAB students ponder their next steps. Though there are many sources of advice available to students, including academic advisors, career counselors and information on the internet, professors and graduate students also provide great first-hand knowledge on how students should handle life after college.  

1. To fight senioritis, students should remember why they came to college. 

According to DeReef Jamison, associate professor in African American studies, graduating students need to remember their long-term vision.  

“Take senioritis out of your vocabulary,” Jamison said. “It’s a concept that provides us with the language to explain what happens when we lose focus on the ultimate goal of graduation.”  

2. Students should let their parents know they have a plan. 

“Even if they disagree with your plan, you can lessen some of their concerns if you have a well thought out game plan that describes where you are going, how you intend to get there and what you intend to do once you reach your destination,” Jamison said. 

3. Students don’t always need to know their research focus in graduate school. 

Rebecca Hyde, a graduate student and teaching assistant in communication management, could have completed an optional thesis for her program, and she said many advised her to connect all of her assignments to her thesis, but she decided not to connect one of them.   

“This is where coming back to grad school later on has its advantages,” Hyde said. “Because I was coming right out of undergrad, I still did not know what my career specialty was going to be. I ended up not choosing a specific topic to research, instead taking each of the assignments as they came.” 

4. Finding a mentor is one of the most important things to consider when looking for a research lab as a graduate student.  

Students going into research fields should reach out to researchers who they believe will mentor them instead of focusing on those with a matching field of study, according to Nirzari Gupta, Ph.D. candidate in polymer chemistry and drug delivery. 

“If you have done some undergrad research before you don’t have to go in the same direction,” Gupta said. “Grad school is about exploring new [things] and how to learn new [things].”  

5. Students need to make sure they set themselves apart in the job search. 

Samantha Giordano, assistant professor in biomedical sciences, said that she was incorrectly told she would not have to struggle in her job search after graduation.  

“The job market is flooded with so many people who are qualified,” she said. “You need to make some strategic plans so that you can land that dream job.” 

6. It’s okay if students don’t have everything figured out by graduation. 

One of the worst pieces of advice Hyde said she received is that students must have a solid plan after graduation that they stick to for the rest of their lives. 

 “Just like in undergrad, your interests are going to shift, you’ll find new opportunities and life is going to throw things at you,” Hyde said. “Go ahead and choose your next step, but don’t think that it’s the last career choice you’ll ever make.”   

7. Students should cherish their undergraduate years. 

Giordano said that students should remember to enjoy the journey to graduation. 
“Whether it’s shadowing, studying for exams with other students or having lunch with co-workers, enjoy your life—it makes achieving your goal so much more fun when you share it with others,” she said.
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