Tag Archives: university

Graduating Again

25 Apr

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I’m walking back to my car after a night of seeing my friend who will be graduating from the college that I attended two years ago. It’s raining and I’m running through the tiled area near the business school, and I notice that the tiles I’m running on aren’t loose and moving around under my feet like they used to. I’m surprised at the sense of security I feel even though I know that one wrong step could probably leave me tripping. I stop and walk up to the shrine of the Virgin Mary illuminated by candles, protected somehow by the intense wind and rain, and I stare at her. I wonder, if I stay and stare long enough, if she’ll turn to me and start telling me where to go.

Not where to go in the sense of how to find my car. I know where that is, of course. No – what I want, what I’m asking out of this inanimate religious statue — is to tell me what it is that my college experience meant and whether I’m doing the right thing with my life. I have a sneaking suspicion that this is a common event for melancholic recent graduates such as myself. Maybe.

An hour before my awkward staredown with Mary, my friend is walking me through the halls of the buildings pointing out the new additions that have come about since my graduation. “We have recycling centers everywhere now,” she told me, “and there’s even a new free trade, student-run smoothie café!” She took me to a photography exhibit – something that my school never had before – and she even mentioned that my former marketing professors still remember me when she brings me up. My friend is a social butterfly, and we are interrupted quite frequently on our journey from building to building. When I am introduced, each student vigorously shakes my hand and gives me a genuine smiled. I am in complete shock, not only regarding the changes to the buildings, but to the changes that I see within the students that now go to my former university. Has my mindset changed, I wondered, or has this place finally turned into a school that welcomes people other than rich snobs?

I had specifically asked my friend to walk around the campus with me because I feel that it is important to return to places that were once important in your life. It’s easy to point to an old school or place of employment from far away – you can spew out as many I remember when…’s from that distance because it is safe. It’s the same as looking at a photo of a distant relative and actually hugging them in real life: there has to be that physical aspect to truly bring all of the memories and emotions together. For me, I felt an urgency to walk through the halls of the business school and to smell the familiar smells of the cafeteria, old books and incense from outside the chapel in the student center. I wanted to go down the same flight of stairs that I went down so many times, knowing that I could never had predicted what my life would be like if I were to go down them again two years later. As I was doing all of this, I felt like I was visiting a very old friend; a friend who gave me shelter, gave me an education and taught me how to be the person that I am today.

College was, as it is for many, a time of stress, uncertainty and exhilaration. I associated my school with a lot of negative feelings simply because I never felt like I belonged that well. Going back and knowing what I know now, I feel differently. I think that the biggest lesson that I learned from all of this is that situations are never as bad as what they seem. I learned that the things that I took for granted and often was waiting to run away from were actually things that I deeply appreciate now. I realized that life is not worth living if you can’t do something like this – if you can’t measure the steps that you’ve taken in the giant circle that we all will walk in life. When we come back to those places and we realize the good that we never saw before, it is because we didn’t have the capacity to appreciate it at other points in our life before. By recognizing this, we learn to be more cognizant of our lives as we are living them.

Growing up a Catholic, one hears many stories of God or the Virgin Mary popping up out of nowhere to bring important messages to others. Although I don’t practice the religion much anymore, there’s still a small part of me that wonders if something extraordinary like that could happen to me. Staring at the statue that night, I think that a part of me wanted it to happen. When you’re in your mid-twenties, you’ll take any shred of hope that you have that someone, somewhere, will lead you and your heart down the right direction. I think that I finally got that from the statue last night. It was told directly to my heart, not out loud, and unlike the reverberant booms of a graduation speech against auditorium walls, I discovered that the most potent messages are always silent in their clarity.

Tips for Future Graduates

19 Mar

We are halfway through March already (seriously, how did that happen?) and it will be officially two months until my one year anniversary of graduating college. Two months before I graduated, I remember scouring the interwebs trying to find advice on how to lead my life in what I consider to be one of the scariest economies to be launched into after attending school for 18-some years of my life. The sad thing is that all of the advice I came across was pretty generic and unhelpful. If you are just entering college or if you are just about to graduate, here are some tips that I hope you will find helpful. Keep in mind that, just like me, your experience may definitely differ and you may find that my advice will not help you at all. That’s okay, though, because I’m sure you are eager to read my beautiful writing anyway.

If You Are Just Starting College

  • Internships – I can’t stress this enough! While at my company, I have heard my co-workers scoff at interviewees who only had school projects to discuss while applying for a position. Try to have at least two internships before you graduate, and make sure that they are ones that you can show off on a resume. A lot of internships are unpaid, but they will pay off in their own way when you’re looking for a job.
  • Party vs. Work –When I was a sophomore, Bill Rancic, the original winner of The Apprentice, gave a speech at my university. He said that he chose to gain work experience while many of his friends decided to get wasted every night. It was a personal choice, and it ended up benefiting him. You are at school to learn and to have fun, but at the end of the day having internships and part-time jobs will get you a full time job, not how many shots you can do in an hour.
  • Avoid Serious Relationships-This was the big mistake I made: staying in a terrible two-year relationship during two crucial years of my college life. School is stressful enough, and having a serious relationship on top of it just adds to more unnecessary drama. If you do decide to date, get rid of anyone who does not respect the time that you need to study, to be alone or to be with your other friends. Not worth it.
  • HTML and Photoshop Are Your Friends-Knowing HTML is what got me my job, and I never even took a formal class for it! No matter what line of work you are in, having a basic knowledge of HTML and a design program such as Adobe Photoshop will set you apart from your competitors. Try to take a class or teach yourself the basics of HTML through the W3 site.
  • Broaden Your Horizons-As cliche as it sounds, try to take at least one class outside your core that really interests you or sounds challenging. For me, it was a Charles Dickens class and three Japanese language classes. Taking interesting and unique classes sets you apart, and you can milk it for all it’s worth when you go on interviews later on. Employers love to hear about how you set yourself apart.
  • Greek Life is Bullshit-Been there, done that. Sororities and fraternities do not help you to get jobs and, unless you’re at a really big school, the responsibilities will bog you down. They aren’t as fun as they seem, and it’s kind of similar to the cheerleader/football player effect in high school: if you brag about it to a normal person, they’ll probably just laugh behind your back.

If You Are About to Graduate

  • Don’t Use Job Boards- Seriously, no one ever tells you this but job boards are the worst way to find jobs these days. Think about it: everyone and their mother (assuming she is unemployed) are out there trying to apply to these jobs, which only amps up the competition for you and creates total burnout for the employer. Instead, do the following:
  • LinkedIn For Job Searches: Create the most amazing, kick-ass LinkedIn profile that you possibly can. Add a professional picture, list all of your achievements and work experience using key phrases that are common in your industry and ask for ALL of the reccommendations that you can while on the site. LinkedIn profiles are just as, if not more, important than resumes nowadays. They should be taken pretty seriously. Once you have everything set up, use the company search to find local companies in your desired industry. Go on their sites and apply for jobs directly on there. It’s a bit exhausting, but it’s a great way to find jobs that aren’t on job boards. This method is how I found my job!
  • Be Patient– You can’t hurry love, and you can’t hurry the perfect job either. Finding a good job takes time, but that time is worth it! Be wary of companies that invite you in to interviews without a preliminary phone interview first, or companies that you cannot find much information on while searching the web. These sites are most likely scams and, yes, I think that almost every recent graduate has gone on at least one interview only to find out that it was a complete fraud. By the way, there’s nothing wrong with interrupting your interviewer if you do find yourself in a fraudulent situation–why sit around for the whole damn interview to be done with? Simply tell them that the position does not match your interests, and get the hell out of there.
  • Go On Every Interview- This is a pretty common point in any advice for recent graduates, but it still rings true: practice makes perfect. Go on any and all interviews that come your way, even if it’s not for a job you want. The better you get at doing interviews, the more ready you’ll be when the right one rolls along. Don’t forget to make a cheat sheet of all the most common interview questions (and your answers) and study that before every interview. If you’d like an example cheat sheet, message me and I’ll be happy to send one your way.
  • Get Used to Flying Solo- No one ever really warned me about what life in the “real world” was going to be like after graduation. We’ve spent our whole lives in school–a place where you are pretty much forced to make friends with the people around you simply because you see them every day. When you graduate, you’ll find that your friends may not be as close to you geographically as they used to be, and you may find that your social life seems a little boring compared to what it was in school. All of this is normal. Enjoy being on your own and learning to make new friends because, let me tell you, finding people to hang out with outside of school is a pretty daunting task for the recent graduate. We all go through it, though.
  • Watch Your Loans– Speaking from experience, I can safely say that you are very, very lucky if you end up paying your school loans off to a company who is nice enough to send you monthly reminders of your bill. Companies are pretty screwy these days so, right after you graduate, make sure to write down exactly what days your loans are due, verify that they haven’t been sold to other companies (this happened to me and I was never notified) and make regular payments in order to start building good credit for yourself.
  • Stay Positive- Last but not least, remember that college is a boot camp that has trained you for the real world. It was easy for me and a lot of my friends to become very negative about finding a job due to the economy, but try your best to remember that everyone is in the same boat. Focus on your achievements and always be alert–you never realize how many good opportunities you miss out on when you’re negative or depressed until much later (and by then it’s too late).

I hope that someone somewhere can find value in my tips! Feel free to contact me with any tips of your own or questions that you may have.

Am I unknowingly on the set of a new Final Destination movie?

21 Jul

I feel ridiculous saying this, but it has been two and a half months and I am already back at my university’s library. An hour ago, I was at home eating dinner and watching the makeup slowly start to melt off of my face faster than a transvestite wax figure being held near a gigantic blowtorch. Now, I am basking in the air conditioned, musky smelling basement of the library with all of my essentials: a bag of pita chips and hummus, My Booky Wook 2 by Russell Brand, and a large water bottle with a Strawberry Kiwi Benefiber packet mixed in. So why, one might ask, am I here? Mainly because the library is the only public and air conditioned place less than a mile from my house. Considering the increase of bad luck that I have been having since the beginning of July, I am beginning to wonder if it is only a matter of time before something odd and terrible happens to me à la  Final Destination.

In the past week, I have had my second flat tire since the beginning of the summer, an interview that turned out to be a total scam, a man hit the back of my car (only after having the front of my car repaired two weeks ago) and my roomie/landlord deciding to have her boyfriend move in and giving me until August to move out. On top of all of this, our air conditioning is broken during the hottest week of the summer so far. My roomie, who only shows up at night when she and her boyfriend slip into her bed and do it like they do on the Discovery Channel, didn’t even notice that it wasn’t working until I mentioned it yesterday. Oddly, she doesn’t seem to mind sleeping in the heat. After all, what’s more sexually appealing than sweating so much that your bed becomes a giant slip ‘n’ slide? Literally. Ew.

I'm sure my next flat tire will be due to a situation exactly like this

It seems that about 70% of my problems have to do with my car. And, while flat tires and car accidents are totally normal, I am starting to wonder if my car is either secretly a Transformer with a vengeance or under the surveillance of James Wong as he tries to gather new material for Final Destination 6 or whatever number they’re on. I wouldn’t be surprised if the little mishaps that seem to occur every day started turning into catastrophic events: a giant meteor from outer space with craters spelling out “Sucks For You!” shooting down and heading right for my car, finding shards of glass in my Chipotle burrito bowl or, horror of horrors, having my flat iron burst into flames and singe that one eyebrow that I finally made even with the other eyebrow so I didn’t look like a stroke victim anymore.

The only thing getting me through this summer

Either way, as ridiculous as it sounds, all of these small and common nuggets of “bad luck” make me excited for the future. I’ve always believed in the theory that life is like a great scale: with the good comes the bad, and with the bad comes the good. If we had never gone a day in our lives feeling unloved, hungry or scared, how could we truly appreciate the feelings of companionship, satiation and comfort? After having such great luck for a while, I gladly embrace the negative events that have been coming my way because it only means that equally as powerful good things will soon follow. That is, of course, unless I get burned to death in a tanning bed, ride a roller coaster that goes off the tracks, or start a fire in my kitchen that I’m unable to escape. But those kind of things only happen in movies, right?

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