As I read CJ’s blog post a few weeks ago, I couldn’t help but think about the many lessons that I have learned since graduating from DU two years ago. This prompted me to ask two of my colleagues, and fellow DU grads, what they have learned since graduating from college. For all of you who are thinking about preparing for life after college, whether you are in the process of deciding where you would like to go for undergrad or are a college Senior, I thought I would share a few of our thoughts with you.
A. Your identity is not defined by what you do, but rather who you are
Often when we engage in conversation with someone we just met, we gather basic information about that individual to inform ourselves of who they are. We ask questions like, “What’s your name?," “Where are you from?," “What do you do?," or for college students, “What do you plan on doing with that degree?” While these types of questions may be part of a natural conversation, they have sometimes made me feel like the answers define who I am. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do, but work can easily take over your life and consequently your identity. 40-50 hour weeks can be long and all-consuming but there are 168 hours in a week and with my need of getting my full 8 hours a night, that leaves me with about 72 of free time. With that time, it is important to stay engaged in other hobbies and interests. My interests are in engaging with my community, dancing, reading, learning, gardening and traveling. A work-life balance is extremely important to personal growth and enjoying life.
B. Develop a high-caliber work ethic
As a student your work ethic can be evaluated based on a grade you receive on a paper or class project. As a working professional, your work ethic is what frames your experience with the job and co-workers. Everyone values a high-caliber work ethic. No one will consistently grade you on it in the professional world, but it is the single most important professional skill to build for a lifetime.
C. Stay positive - there is always something to look forward to
So far, there have been two transitions in my life when I felt like I had so many options and yet so few. The first was when I was selecting which university to attend (yay May 1st!) and the second was when I graduated from college. During these transitions it was vital that I stayed positive and thought about my many options as a privilege. Going forward, whether it is deciding on graduate school or future careers, I will remember how important it is to keep a positive self-talk, make informed decisions and enjoy life one day at a time.
D. Build and continue to build positive professional networks
No matter the setting, be your best and do your best. There is always a chance to build positive professional networks, even when you are currently employed. Having strong, healthy networks is very important. As they say, “It is not what you know, it is who you know." In today’s competitive world, getting to know other professionals is one of the best ways to discover new career opportunities.
The list of what I’ve learned since graduating from college can go on and on. I think these are four of the most important and while you may have heard these before it’s always good to have a refresher. So if you are a prospective student or a current student, take full advantage of the many opportunities that you are offered at DU, because it will prepare you for life after college.
LeAnna Roaf - Admission Counselor