Graduation is usually defined as the receiving or conferring of an academic degree or diploma. However, this term can mean many things. It can be the end. It can be the beginning. It can be realization of finally being able to help oneself or family. The term means different things to different people. But for most, it means a joyous occasion.
“I am very excited about graduation because this is another major accomplishment in my life that is allowing me to take a step closer to my goals and ambitions in life,” said Megan Lee, a public health major from Greenville, Miss.
For many, this can be a wake-up call. Like most students, all they have known is school. School has become a way of life for more than 13 years. It has been an integral part of their everyday lives. How will a student react when he or she is thrust into the “real world?”
Sometimes a student’s fears can be overwhelming.
“My biggest fear in working in the real world is not being able to adhere to everyone’s needs. I enjoy helping others, and I know that alone, I will not be able to help everyone that I run across, but will give it my all and do the best that I can,” Lee said.
“My biggest fear is letting someone down and ultimately being fired for it. No one wants to be fired, and I'd rather not do a bad job,” said Sherry Galbreath.
However, many students feel the total opposite. They feel that with the knowledge that they have acquired while in school, they will succeed in their respective careers.
“I believe that I am strongly ready to get into the workforce,” Lee said. “My internship has helped me out a lot with being able to reach out to others and give them helpful information on health issues. I am very comfortable with assisting others and delivering reliable information. It pleases me knowing that I am capable of saving someone by informing them on important facts of the different health issues progressed throughout the world.”
Mississippi University for Women’s academic units strive to prepare their students with the skills and knowledge to better themselves. The College of Business and Professional Studies is one that helps students build a solid foundation in college that will propel them into a successful career.
"Our college prepares students to enter the workforce by combining classroom instruction and real-world activity. Students not only learn best practices and theory within our disciplines, but also receive the opportunity to practices lessons learned in practical settings," said Dr. Scott Tollison, dean of the College of Business and Professional Studies. "We survey local employers to ensure that the content of our courses is relevant to the needs of the very organizations that will hire our graduates. I believe we provide the most relevant, grounded programs of study possible - programs that prepare our graduates for a wide range of employment opportunities.”
Putting Those Skills to Work
With their solid educational foundations, students begin searching for jobs, but this process can be difficult for some. There are many options that need to be considered. One consideration that many face is the option of relocation. Will the person be willing to relocate in order to acquire the job? For some careers, relocation is a necessity.
"I have considered relocating, but only if I find a job that's worth it. The pay has to be excellent, and I have to be able to make living arrangements that will fit the pay and/or benefits that I receive from that job," said Jasmine Johnson, a communication major from Greenville, Miss.
Another consideration is the skill level required for a job.
Employers see many job applications throughout the employment process. What do they look for in an employee? Do they look for a degree, or do they look for a particular skill?
“I’m looking for someone, sure they’ve got their bachelor’s or master’s, but I need someone who has hands-on experience. I need someone who has been down in the ‘trenches,’” said Angie Weaver, director of human resources at Gilmore Memorial Regional Medical Center in Amory, Miss. “For example, nurses have all of this knowledge, but can they apply it to a body?”
Courtney Raymond, a nurse at Gilmore Memorial Regional Medical Center and a 2013 graduate of MUW, feels that MUW prepared her well for her career.
“MUW nursing was competitive and required a great deal of hard work. I learned how to truly study in nursing school. It didn't matter if you were valedictorian of your high school graduating class in nursing school. It spared no one. It was the hardest two years of my life,” Raymond said. “It has helped me learn organizational skills and time management in my job now. I am able to handle stress better and more calmer.”
That is one of the goals of the MUW nursing program — to have students work-ready at graduation.
“I feel that our department prepares graduate nurses to begin work in nursing. We prepare our nurses to become nurse generalists, so they will be able to function in a number of entry-level roles," said Adrian Sligh, instructor of nursing at MUW. "As a rule, our students usually begin their careers as medical/surgical nurses, but some migrate to areas such as critical care, emergency, surgery, labor and delivery and other specialty areas."
Marketing Yourself to an Employer
MUW nursing is just one example of how higher education can prepare graduating students for the workforce by giving them the proper skills and knowledge.
But a large part of the job search is up to the individual person. For instance, students must keep in mind that appearance can be an important part of landing the right job.
"Job searching is all about marketing oneself to potential employers," said Towanda Williams, MUW career specialist. "Everybody's idea of business attire is different, but in today's society overkill can be a good thing. How bad do you want it? That's what it comes down to."
Williams also mentioned that creating a good resume is also extremely important. For many job openings, this will serve as a person’s first introduction at a company.
"Make sure your information is relevant and consistent," she said.
Graduation is a big step in a person's life. It doesn't matter if it is high school or college, this small bookmark in a life is the gateway to the world.
Even Dr. Seuss, a sage of childhood rhyme and silliness, concluded that each person is ultimately responsible for where he or she goes in life. As he counseled, “You’re on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who’ll decide where to go."