Alumni share experiences, advice gleaned from first year on the job
By Callie Gordon ’12
Attending Texas State is a blend of getting an education, starting your career, and the growing up that happens along the way. Nestled in the Texas Hill Country, you spend four years learning about the world, our country and yourself, as well as more facts about LBJ than the average person will ever know.
Although your classes and professors do their best to prepare you, the transition from college to career often comes with a few growing pains. Below, four recent graduates share what they’ve learned through their first year on the job.
What was the most challenging thing about transitioning from college to career?
Leigh Morgan, Communication Design ’11 Marketing Coordinator at Anthony Travel @leighdotcom
In college, the proof of your hard work is often reflected in your grade at the end of the semester. Because of this, I have struggled to feel accomplished in my career, not because I’m doing a poor job, but because real-world success is less tangible than a grade.
Joe Koenig, Marketing ’10
Rental Power Sales Rep at Mustang Caterpillar
When I first began my job, I was 22 years old. Everyone else around me was no younger than 34, some had kids my age, and some had grandkids, too. My coworkers were substantially different in that our hobbies and social lives were completely unrelated. My weekend stories consisted of social gatherings and mild traveling; they shared their passion for lawn care and maintenance. I had to find a middle ground nonetheless because the relationships were mutually beneficial, in that whatever knowledge I shared with them, they had years of much-desired experience to share with me.
Kathryn Gisi, Journalism ’11
Reporter at KSWO
I’ve always known that I would be a better employee than student. Academia was never something that suited me, so leaving behind assignments, tests, note-taking and projects, and entering the workforce was something I had always looked forward to. Hands down, the hardest part about the big transition is the people you leave behind. I don’t remember much about history, American literature or biology — especially biology! — but I remember nearly every person I met along the way and I remember how they impacted my life. Some people left bigger impressions than others, some were mere acquaintances, and a few will stand at my wedding one day. But they each served a purpose and leaving them behind is hard. Some days, very hard.
Jeremy Rangel, Management ’11
Account Manager at Coca-Cola
I think the most challenging transition for me was being able to find a routine to create some work-life balance. I really enjoy being physically active as well as socially and working long hours or long weeks can really steer you away from the things you enjoy doing outside the work environment.
What is your favorite thing about being out of school?
Leigh: By far, financial freedom and paid vacation days.
Jeremy: Not having to study for final exams or major tests. Work can be stressful but really isn’t near the burden of some of those final exam days.
What do you miss most about Texas State?
Joe: I mostly miss the sense of community among students, all the great professors, the beauty of the campus, and of course, the river.
Kathryn: This is a nearly impossible question to answer. What don’t I miss? In terms of location, San Marcos has it nailed. You can’t ask for a more ideal dot on a map. That 50-mile stretch of interstate [between San Antonio and San Marcos] is one of the best in the country, in my opinion, and it is not to be taken for granted.
What is your advice for May graduates?
Leigh: Do not focus on the zeros (at the end of) your potential salary. Go for the job that will build on your existing talents, challenge you to learn new ones and make you a better candidate for your next role — and, for heaven’s sake, a job where you’ll be happy. I promise you will survive on whatever the right job gives you, but you will not survive eight hours a day in a job you hate.
Joe: If you do not have a job lined up after graduation, do not panic. I know it sounds like an unreasonable request, but think about it logically. An unfathomable amount of students graduate in May. You, your friends, your respective college, 10 universities in your area, etc., are all interviewing for similar jobs. Be patient and differentiate yourself. Think about applying in different cities. Once you get a respectable amount of experience, it’ll be easy to find a new job somewhere more desirable. Also, have an open mind to various industries of work.
Kathryn: Be obnoxiously persistent. Applying for 10 jobs a day isn’t as good as applying for 20, and 20 isn’t as good as applying for 30. Follow up on your follow-ups. E-mail and call. Call and e-mail. And broaden your searching scope. You are young. Go ANYWHERE.
What is your advice for freshman and current students?
Leigh: Develop a work ethic. I lived by Coach Carter rules: Show up, sit in the front row and be mentally present.
Kathryn: Sleep. Take care of your body. Bring a swimsuit everywhere you go. Say yes to more things than you say no to. You’ll regret not going, doing, seeing. Get to know your teachers; it WILL benefit you. Don’t wear your sweats or pajamas to class — present yourself. WHEN you fall down (or up) the stairs, laugh really loudly at yourself; it’s less embarrassing that way. And revel in the madness. College is supposed to be messy. Embrace that part of it and take the mess for everything that it’s worth. Because sooner than you’d like, your life starts to take shape, whether you’re ready for it to or not.
Jeremy: For all of you currently enrolled, my only advice is to enjoy your college experience as much as you can. Get involved with as many organizations as you can. Try new things, go out more, study harder, meet new people. It’s your college experience — don’t be afraid to make a few mistakes.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
Leigh: I wish I would have started internships earlier. It will most likely be the only time I can work for free as companies invest their time and knowledge in me. The trade-off seems like a no-brainer.
Joe: Not one thing. I balanced my fun and school work well, and it all paid off just like everyone said it would.
Jeremy: I wish I had been involved in a few more organizations. I think the experience would have been more fun and probably would have made me feel more involved with the university.
What did you do specifically at Texas State that prepared you for your job (i.e. organization, competition, internship)?
Leigh: I’m positive that my internships are why I’m employed today. They were so valuable in allowing me to dabble in different fields and discover not only what I want to do, but what I do not want to do.
Kathryn: I became buds with my teachers and did four internships: a news station in San Antonio, a PR firm, a radio station in NYC and a small production company in Austin. Without having done those things, I’m confident I would be unemployed, watching “Real Housewives” on my parents’ couch right now. Internships are absolutely crucial to finding a career post-grad. My advice is to try for one or two a year once you’re a sophomore. You’ll learn more than you do in class and you’ll have the most important thing: another line on your résumé.