Opinion: Congratulations to UW Tacoma’s class of 2019!

The countdown has begun! In two weeks time, the 2019 graduating class of UW Tacoma will walk across the stage and receive their degrees. After years of hardwork and dedication, UWT’s seniors are finally closing the chapter of their college career and now face the exciting, yet daunting post university life.

Graduating students across the globe are experiencing the immense joy that comes along with never attending an 8 a.m. lecture, writing research papers, or cramming for an exam ever again. Along with this excitement of graduating, there is also a very real sense of fear and confusion that many college grads feel at the end of their journey.

Many students are unsure as to what their next steps are, and the pressure to find a job or to begin networking within your field is stressful due to all of the uncertainty. As a 2019 graduate, I am trying to remember that while my future career is important, it is also crucial to relax and take stock of the great accomplishment of obtaining a college degree.

There are also plenty of grads wondering whether or not to give themselves a break before diving into a career or continuing educational pursuits. Here’s my advice to my fellow graduates: taking a break is not a bad thing! This is a personal choice of course, but recent grads shouldn’t feel bad about wanting to take some time for themselves, whether that means spending time traveling, focusing on family, or saving up money.

Graduating college is a major accomplishment, and taking time off can help you enjoy your accomplishments and recharge before entering into another period of focus and dedication. Having time to relax from school and explore possible career prospects will help you grow and better prepare you for your future career. With that being said, don’t let a period of inactivity make you lose sight of your goals.

As I stated before, taking time off is perfectly normal and could better prepare you for your future — but don’t let it distract you from further personal development. As students, we do not have an immense amount of free time to focus on career and field research, let alone networking and personal development.

Following graduation, find the time to network with fellow alumni, professors, and people in your field. This can easily be done by joining LinkedIn or Handshake, which are social media platforms specifically for professional networking. These sites can help you establish your skills and experiences, meet people in your field and act as a job search outlet. Another great way to further your professional development is by reaching out to established professional who work in careers that you find interesting or are thinking about getting into to and ask them for an informational interview.

An informational interview is an opportunity to discuss career responsibilities, industry knowledge, and to develop a better idea of the trajectory of certain jobs. It is important to note that at an informational interview it is not appropriate to ask for a job or if their agency is hiring. Rather, it is an opportunity to network and build up your professional knowledge. Though, if you form a relationship or make an impression on the person, you may find yourself with job prospects later down the road.

Recent grads should prioritize learning even when school is over, whether this be on the job, through reading books, listening to podcasts, research journals, etc. Exercising your brain and broadening your knowledge base will help you be more secure in your personal identity — and being a lifelong learner is quite the marketable trait.

To the graduates of 2019: Closing a chapter in your book always leaves a feeling of uncertainty. but uncertainty also comes with possibility. The world is in your hands, so stay inspired and keep after your goals!

Alyssa Tatro

Alyssa majors in urban studies and community development. She is interested in and concerned about issues in Tacoma that impact the community. She is obsessed with all things chocolate and piggies.