Recent UWEC Alumni Share Advice on Life after Graduation
By Rylee Lutz, Jessi Parish, and Lacey Patzer with contributions from Gretchen Hutterli
Life after college can be a difficult transition. This is true for all graduates, whether they accepted a job prior to graduation, or are still looking for the right position.
To learn what life is like post-UW-Eau Claire, we interviewed two 2011 alumni—Daniel Johnson and Tom Parsons. They shared how their lives have changed and offered tips for transitioning from campus to career.
“Finding the right job that provides adequate compensation and is something that I enjoy,” has been a challenge for Daniel Johnson, a 2011 management graduate.
“Most jobs want someone with more experience, or their pay is not any better than what I already make as a major sales associate at Costco,” he continued.
Because the job market has been tight, Johnson and many other graduates have found it more difficult to find their dream job. He advises graduates to keep networking. Johnson also encourages them to explore career options where they currently work as this experience may lead to future opportunities.
“Right now, I’m in training to become a supervisor at Costco,” he explained. “I am hoping that this experience will put me ahead of the game later on,” he continued.
Because Johnson recently bought a car and an engagement ring, it has been more difficult for him to grow his savings account. So he did what many other recent graduates have done—he moved home temporarily.
“You have to save a lot of money if you want to move out,” he explained. “Apartments, gas, and groceries are expensive, and you need to account for that in your budget planning”.
Some graduates may find it difficult to live at home once they have been on their own. But Johnson has found the move to be very easy.
“I love my family,” he explained, “And my parents respected that I wanted to come home to save some money before moving out,” he continued.
To save money, Johnson looks for deals and uses coupons when making purchases. His credit card also offers him a “pretty good rewards system”.
“Every little thing that saves money helps,” he said.
Tom Parson, a 2011 marketing graduate, had a job in place when he graduated.
Parson’s new job required that he move to a new community so he had to develop a new network of friends. Luckily, his co-workers are very friendly and supportive.
“They are always there to help me out if I need it or to grab a drink after a long day at the office,” he said.
Parson also had to find a place to live. Finding housing in an unfamiliar community can be a challenge for some people, but Parson found the process to be easy. He recommends that recent graduates speak with colleagues when searching for apartments or houses.
“My future co-workers and superiors were a big help in letting me know a few places to look,” he explained.
Perhaps one of the greatest challenges Parson faced involved what was expected of him at work.
“As much as I thought college work was either difficult or time consuming, the work that I do now is held at a higher standard,” he explained. “There are no off assignments, bad exams, or extra credit. I have to be on my “A” game every day.”
Parson admits that he liked to have fun while he was in college. When he has free time, he likes to go out and experience what the city has to offer. However, a night on the town now isn’t what it once was when he was in college.
“I had to change some of my weekend habits so I could be more productive or prepared for the week ahead,” he explained.
Parson uses a budget to keep his finances on track. While he advises graduates “to plan a budget, put it on paper, and stick to it”, he also encourages them to set aside some money for things they enjoy doing.
“Give yourself some cushion for fun and entertainment, whatever that may be,” he said.
Advice for those still looking for a job
Any person with a college degree will be noticed more than someone without one, according to Jessica Gardner, UW-Eau Claire Career Services career and employment manager. Career opportunities are everywhere so she encourages recent graduates to explore what they enjoy.
“With your first job, try to not think that it is the only field you will be in,” she explains.
Remember, some jobs take longer to land. Living paycheck to paycheck is never fun so be smart and manage your money well. A rainy day cushion of cash in the bank makes the job hunt less stressful.
Keep networking. Develop a pool of contacts from which you can draw leads and referrals.
Finally, relax, have fun, and relish this new chapter of your life.
From left to right: Rylee Lutz, Jessi Parish, and Lacey Patzer. They wrote this article for their BCOM Advanced Writing class.