A Writer’s Life for Me: Surviving Post-Grad

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To my fellow seniors in the communications field — writers, PR experts, reporters — it’s OK to be scared about the future and to worry about whether you will succeed in life. It’s OK to cry when no one is looking and to have anxiety about being ready for the real world. If you need some guidance on the do’s and don’ts of post-graduation life, we spoke to a few professors who know how to get you in the place you need to be once graduation hits.

Stephanie Fuss, an academic advisor in the College of Communications at Penn State, loves her job helping students achieve their academic goals. She not only advises but also recruits students to join the home of the Nittany Lion. As a recruiter Fuss talks to students and parents one-on-one, letting them know the majors, job opportunities, and internships offered at the main campus.

“I meet with students to talk about their schedules, whether it is long term or the semester or studying abroad,” Fuss said. “Penn State really is great at making sure their students are well-prepared. It is just up to the students to reach out for the resources.”

Fuss advises her students to focus on open communication and organization. Universities have more than enough resources to help students prepare for their futures and even after they graduate, but it is up to the student to want to make that happen. Fuss also said getting involved will help you decide whether or not you want to pursue a certain major.

“If you’re a print major then get involved with the Daily Collegian or OnWard State. All the clubs we have on campus gives you the real world experience and a better outlook on what you want to do,” Fuss said.

Penn State professor Pamela Monk agrees, stating that getting involved opens more opportunities for students and helps professionals see how much experience you have outside the classroom.

Monk said she is always looking for opportunities to write whether it is movie reviews, being a secretary for a group project or creating websites. Writers always have the need to write because its suits your self-nature.

Monk explained that as a writer you can never be satisfied with one publication — that you will always be writing and have to want it more than anyone. She tells her seniors that the writing world — whether it be journalism or screenplays — is an extremely competitive industry, so you must develop a hard shell.

“Editors will destroy your self-esteem, whether it is by saying you’re not good enough or your writing should go back to the basics,” Monk said. “But you need to reevaluate, breathe and just know that you will catch a break. It just may be a year from now or even five.”

Freelance writing opens many doors for those who want to write about about different topics, which is why Monk became a professor who not only teaches her students how to write, but has time to do some writing on her own. She has the best of both worlds: Teaching her students how to produce their best work and freelance whenever an idea comes to mind for a certain magazine.

“I haven’t gotten a lot of money over the years with freelance but it has given me a lot of elbow room,” Monk said. “It just depends on what your goals are and what you want out of life.”

Monk said getting involved is key to learning how to work with other people. She said once you get into the work place it is like one big group project and everyone has a role to fill. Employers look to see what you have done that shows you have those people and leadership skills.

“Don’t do something just for the money. There should be something in it for you above and beyond the money,” Monk said. “But you do need that survival money to pay for your rent and food expenses.”

There is no ideal working situation and you will always run into some bumps along the way, but you have to learn to stick it out and be prepared for changes. Life holds no formula–you need to do what you love.

So seniors, don’t stress over the future. Everything will fall into place, and the more you stress about everything, the more opportunities you will miss to better yourself as a college graduate. If nothing goes right, then do as the famous quote says and go left.

Wanting to change the world with my words, senior, journalism, Penn State University

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