As the 25 Days of Christmas begin to take their jolly toll upon eardrums and wallets, most students are texting their parents a few gift ideas to pass on to their irritating relatives. A gift card to Starbucks, maybe some new earphones, possibly a wad of cold hard cash, anything but a fruit cake. For some seniors, the holiday season adds an extra level of giddiness. While chugging eggnog and strategically placing the mistletoe above their T.A.’s door, a select group of seniors are preparing to graduate from college in December. Can there be any greater present than completing school?
Hong Phuong, a senior at Penn State University, doesn’t think so. With his final days as a college student winding down, Phuong can smell the sweet aroma of gingerbread cookies and a shiny degree. As an Army ROTC cadet, Phuong has endured a grueling schedule of physical training, tactical movement labs, and 5 a.m. wake ups these past four years. Despite the excitement reaching a fever pitch, Phuong like any senior must focus and prepare for the light at the end of the tunnel.
“Actually, it helps me to stay focused knowing the light is so close at the end of the tunnel,” Phuong said. “It makes me work harder and want to get everything done for graduation. I check my degree requirements daily to know that I'm on top of all my classes for graduation. In addition, I check my emails very often to get the information I need to be ready for the ceremony.”
According to Daniel Pascoe, Co-Director of the University of Oregon Career Center, graduating seniors should be preparing to enter the real world by exploring the job market.
“The first thing that seniors should do is experiment in the job search process,” Pascoe said. “80 percent of jobs are never posted and 58 percent of internships turn into jobs. The goal is to get your foot in the door. Networking is the way to gain experience within your preferred professional environment and turn that experience into an employment opportunity.”
Complementing Pascoe’s advice, George Washington University Career Center Communications Coordinator, Jeff Dagley, believes that seniors should be utilizing their remaining time in college by researching potential employers and balancing their workload.
“Get organized and don’t freak out,” Dagley said. “Critique and update your resume. You should attend career fairs and connect with alumni in order to get noticed.”
Although the adrenaline rush simmers for most students after Christmas morning, Phuong is pumped for the future. “I’m not looking forward to the days when I have to start paying my bills back, but I'll enjoy not waking up so early in the morning and then staying up late for tests,” Phuong said.