Leeving: Advice from Professors
"Leeving" is a series that highlights graduating seniors and their time and accomplishments at Lee, detailing the experiences had, knowledge they've gained, or the people they've met. This week we have some advice from professors on what students should expect after graduation.
When seniors reflect back on the past four years of their college experience, it probably seems like a blur. This may be partially due to the copious amounts of caffeine, all-nighters, essays and exams. It’s a waiting game.
Time is wished away day-to-day as students get one step closer to weekends, holidays and graduation. Yet towards the end, the tone shifts as students attempt grasp what’s left of their undergraduate experience. Despite any post-graduation plans, seniors are puzzled at the thought of what’s next.
Dr. Bob Barnett, distinguished professor of history, discussed the pattern of students’ discomfort.
“You’re facing the first real identity crisis of your life,” Barnett said. “To this point when someone asks what you do, you can say you’re in a specific grade or school.”
He noted the how much more difficult graduation seems when students don’t have all the answers.
“The question becomes, ‘What are you now?’ Barnett said. “For those people who don’t have a job, that’s a really hard question to ask.”
Dr. Patty Silverman, professor of public relations, stated students should focus on who they are in Christ rather than what they will be doing.
“God doesn’t really care what kind of job you have; He cares about who you are,” Silverman said. “He cares about who you’re going to be in the workplace, not everything that you do.”
Drawing from this idea, Barnett discussed how individuals define a “successful life.”
“For people of faith… it’s not about you, it’s about other people,” Barnett said. “It’s about how you impact the world outside of your own house.”
Silverman reminds anxious students that faith is an important component in determining direction.
“I tell my students to pray Proverbs 3:5-6 – To ‘trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight,’” she said. “I think it’s plural because we have so many paths in life, what school to choose, what mate to choose, where to get a job, those kinds of things.”
When discerning certain choices, Dr. Wilkins, professor of French, suggests students seize any opportunity presented to them.
“If the door opens for you, go through it…even if it has nothing to do with what you went to school for,” Wilkins said. “And if a door is closed, don’t break it down trying to get through if something is obviously closed.”
He emphasized that college majors don’t limit students to a particular field.
“I think your first five years out of college is doing a bunch of things and then carving out niches for yourself based on the experiences of those years,” Wilkins said.
In order to practically plan for their futures, Silverman suggests all students start to develop networks long before graduation day. By sending out resumes and scheduling information interviews, students can develop long-lasting connections in the community without necessarily looking for a job.
Ultimately, post-graduate life will vary from person to person. Everyone must carefully decide the kind of life they would like to lead and what will help them get there. It’s a long process with many different stages and one that students may not immediately understand.
“I wish all the graduating students good luck, it’s a changing world,” Wilkins said. “So keep your head up, look for the open doors and enjoy the ride.”