Last Updated: December 21, 2017, 3:57 pm

College students face ‘real world’ after graduation


When the time comes to leave college behind and join the working world, the transition for graduates can be challenging.

Bryan Jacobs, academic adviser for media studies, said college students make one crucial error when preparing for life after school: They don’t start soon enough. 

“What I find with most students is they don’t prepare anywhere near as early as they should for that day coming,” Jacobs said. “When that day hits them, it’s this cold surprise, and the realities of that is ‘now what should I do?’ It’s a great question they should be asking the day they start school.”  

Knowing what job you want, what prospective employers are seeking and how to market the skills you learn in school are all ideas students should be considering, he said. The choices those students make — such as the selection of their major — should already be directing them before that transition is reached.

A common issue among students who have come straight from high school is expecting that the process of moving to the working world will require little effort on their own part. 

“Traditional students who come straight from high school — they’re used to being handed off to the next thing,” he said. “Well, the job must be the next thing, and they’ll have a set of expectations about ‘it will take care of itself’ rather than ‘oh, I’ve got to do some of my own research and some preparation and legwork.’” 

Dixie State University graduate Tori Baird said the switch from university student to employment seeker was challenging. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in mass communication in May 2016, Baird discovered that finding employment in her chosen field of radio was not going be as easy as she believed.

“I think it was more frustrating than surprising,” she said. “Why isn’t anything coming together?”

Baird applied for multiple jobs but when she was unable to land the full-time job she had envisioned, she worked side jobs to make ends meet. 

When you first get out of college, you think you’re going to land your dream job in your chosen field, she said, but you must be patient and understand that it often comes down to fortuitous timing. It is also important to have connections in your chosen field.

After graduation, she did not find full-time work until August, Baird said. She now works as a producer for KTAR News in Phoenix.

Douglas Sainsbury, academic adviser for biology, deals with a different set of issues for graduates: Most of the students in the department are moving on to graduate school rather than wrapping up their education. For continuing students, his recommendation is to get ready for some serious work.

“The hardest you studied here (as an) undergrad is going to be even harder at your medical school or the master’s degree you’re going for,” Sainsbury said.

When students communicate with him after leaving DSU, they often tell Sainsbury how difficult the next level of education is, he said.

DSU graduate Emily Havens found work as a reporter for The Spectrum shortly after receiving her degree. As the former editor-in-chief for the Dixie Sun News, Havens said she got valuable hands-on experience in school working as a reporter and editor.

Because of that training, she felt confident as she took on her new role.

“The overall transition was very smooth and kind of perfect,” Havens said.

Jacobs had another important tip for students facing graduation and entry into the professional world.

“If I have any advice, it’s don’t think of (education) as being done,” he said. “Think of (education) as what pieces can you put into your shopping cart that are going to be taken on the journey with you while you still have the opportunity here in school. Then once school is over with, how can you use all those things that you put in that cart?”

Tips for transitioning to the professional world:

– Start planning early

– Be patient; landing that dream job may not happen quickly

– If continuing to grad school, be prepared for a much larger workload

– School is not just homework and tests, it is also practical training meant to be used in a student’s chosen field.