-Camryn Jones, Contributing Writer
With only a few weeks left until summer break, students are wrapping up the 2014-2015 school year and looking ahead to the future, whether that means graduation or another year of undergraduate classes. However, no matter what year they might be, all Mississippi College students have one thing in common: they will eventually have to make the transition from college to adult life, and now is the time to prepare.
Katie Howell, a junior Pre-Med Biology major, hopes to attend medical school after graduation. According to Howell, “there is probably a normal degree of anxiety” about life after college. “Medical school is expensive, and there is no guarantee of acceptance, so that can be a little nerve-wracking,” she said.
Howell’s parents have had the greatest impact on her post-college plans. She said, “They have always supported and encouraged me to pursue my dreams.” She encourages other students to “seek direction from the Lord” when planning for their own futures because “ultimately, it is the Lord’s plan that prevails.”
Stephanie Gandy, Mississippi College’s Coordinator of On-Campus Student Employment & Internships, offers students similar advice. “You have to find what God has called you to,” she said. “Find a way to do what you love. It’s very important to make sure that your obsession can also be your profession. Whatever makes you excited, find a way to have that in some aspect of your job.”
As an undergraduate studying Public Relations, Gandy was able to make important professional connections through networking, and she urges current students to do the same. She recalled consistently attending events hosted by the Public Relations Association of Mississippi, even if she was the only student in a room full of professionals. “I can’t even begin to explain the benefits of being involved in an organization like that,” she said. “Networking lets you learn from people who have been in that field for a long time.”
Along with networking, Gandy also recommends that students intern or shadow in the job that they want. She said, “Anything that shows you what you’ll be doing day to day will either fuel your fire or let you know you’re not in the place you need to be.”
Elementary Education major Lauren Bartley realized that she was in the place she needed to be after experiencing the daily life of a teacher through observing in classrooms and teaching lessons. “I teach a lesson every day to a fourth grade class. I’ve wanted to teach inner-city students for the past year, but this is my first time actually teaching it, and I love it,” she shared.
In fact, her current teaching experience has given her confidence for the future. “I’m not worried about finding a job because I feel like I’ve been prepared well,” said Bartley. She continued, “I’m really looking forward to being out in the real world.” Her advice to other students planning for life after college is to “start figuring it out early.”
Gandy provided a similar suggestion. “Enjoy your college experience. While you’re here, remember why you’re here. Find someone to help you start planning, whether that’s a trusted professor, an advisor, or someone in career services.” After all, she concluded, the goal is for students “to go forth into the workforce with confidence.”