What’s Next? Writing Your Next Chapter After Graduation

Graduation. It’s the exciting, exhilarating end of a rewarding chapter that can sometimes lead to the scary, intimidating unknown of what’s next. This year, it’s estimated that more than two million students will be throwing up their caps and heading into the professional world. So – what does it take to really make your stamp in the world once those college essays are behind you? Our Sweeney team put together some of our own words of wisdom to help you get started.

Rachel Dill, The Ohio State University, 2016

Your network is your net worth! Stay in touch with people and companies even after you have landed a job. And never, ever underestimate the power of a simple thank you note.

Rebecca Wrenn, Ursuline College, 2012

Don’t fear the idea of exploring different paths. You will probably walk on many roads before finding the one that’s right for you. Be patient and trust that every opportunity in front of you (even it’s not your dream gig at first) will lead to experiences that build your future. Try to think as holistically as possible but always keep that end goal in mind. Don’t stress it – you’ll be ok, and then better than ok.

Kylie Touloukian, Ball State University, 2016

Never be afraid to take a leap of faith and trust your gut. This is your time to be selfish and maybe try something you never thought you’d do. Move to that new city, take that different job, adventure to a new place – use this opportunity to explore everything and take the time to get to know yourself. And don’t forget to enjoy the ride.

Olivia Hiles, University of Cincinnati, 2016

If you have high ambitions, it’s amazing how many people will try to tell you why you can’t achieve them. Remember that’s a reflection of their own pessimism and closed-mindedness, not of reality. Push forward, and when you find the people who wholeheartedly believe in you, you’ll realize how foolish it was for anyone to be so confident in doubting you. Most importantly, make sure the first person who truly believes in you is yourself.

Hollyn Page, Radford University, 2014

Don’t compare your journey to your friends and peers. No one is ahead or behind you – everyone’s path is unique. Don’t question yourself or your decisions and don’t be afraid to change your mind. Finally, never stop asking questions and keep a desire to learn as this will set you apart from others in your career.

Alex Robinson, Bowling Green State University, 2015

Focus on building your confidence when entering your professional field. Graduating is such a freeing experience, but as soon as you begin job hunting it can be super easy to get discouraged. Identify when you begin to think of yourself as an imposter in your field (appropriately named Imposter Syndrome) and constantly reassure yourself that you spent years of your life earning your degree. You work so hard to become a professional that it’s not worth it to get in your own way with negativity.

Meg Kruger, Cleveland State University, 2016

Never burn a bridge or fail to make a meaningful connection early on in your career. Some of the relationships that have gotten me the furthest in my career are the ones that are first glance didn’t appear to have much payoff. It’s those initial internships and volunteer opportunities that can make a huge difference down the road, so always take every endeavor seriously and never pass up the chance to make a meaningful connection. Secondly, don’t hesitate to seek mentorship from people you respect in your field. Most successful industry leaders are where they are today because of the advice, help and mentorship they received over the years, so they’re typically willing to repay that favor. Find and utilize mentors wherever and whenever you can!