Dear Class of 2015

Lindsey Graham

Lindsey Graham | Opinion Editor

“First off, I want to congratulate every student that will walk across that stage this year! It’s a huge deal; don’t let anyone devalue your college education. It will get you places in this world. My best piece of advice to you all, is get ready to feel really, really weird and out of place.” Matthew Hudnall, a 2014 graduate, said. “Even if you have a job, or are furthering your education or just plain don’t know where to go now, you will feel out of place.”

It’s now less than two weeks until this year’s graduating seniors walk across the stage and begin their journey as working adults. Alumni from Buena Vista University have spoken up with their advice for those entering the “real world”.

Many alumni discussed what it will be like to work your first job out of college. “Your first job will not be your dream job, and that’s alright,” advised Jeffrey Loving, a 2014 graduate. Why is it alright to not get your dream job right away?

“Typically, you’re not going to get the job that you want right away, but find a job that will help you professionally and move you into that dream job or career,” recommended Demetrius Heard, who graduated in 2014.

Similarly, Darci Dorfler, a 1990 BVU graduate, echoed Heard with, “Be patient – the job you accept now, may not be your ideal job, but it will lead you to where you want to be.”

However, Kevin Coriolan, who graduated in 2014, reminds you, “Don’t settle for less than the job you want. Look at your job as your passion plus a community need and you’ll be sure to find full satisfaction. I made sure to find the perfect fit for me through research and the interview process.”

It can be very difficult to make the decision on what your first job will be, and it can take a lot of time to make sure that your decision is the right one.

Gwendolyn Walton, another 2014 graduate, mentions that, “My advice to graduating seniors would be to make decisions that allow you to follow your passion and enjoy your life. The decisions you’re making right now truly are life decisions so take time to contemplate your options and find a next step that fits into your life path. If you aren’t sure what that next step should be, don’t freak out. Take a breath. Take some time. Choose wisely and choose for yourself.”

How about when you start your first day of work? You want to impress your new boss, but you have to make sure you start off that relationship right.

“When you start a new job, spend a lot of time listening and learning. It’s important to get to know the organization. But don’t be afraid to contribute to the conversations. They hired you because they believe you bring unique knowledge, perspective, and expertise to the table; they want you to contribute,” says Jamie Coquyt, a 1996 BVU grad. “Be a leader, see the need, and act; you have a lot to offer,” said Coquyt.

When it comes to contributing your ideas, however, Melissa Wagner-Kingery (’97) reminds you to, “know when to push and when to back off. It is important that people know you have an opinion. However, let the best opinion win.”

In the workforce, it is also necessary to be mindful of others. Dorfler advises to, “be accountable and a team player. It’s important to do what you say you are going to do and support those around you to ensure everyone is successful.”

“If you help people succeed, you will succeed. By helping others, eventually you will make an impression and you will also receive recognition and forward movement,” Wagner-Kingery said.

At the end of the day, it is important to not get worn out. “The person with the most earned vacation doesn’t always win. Take time to go on vacations. Work life balance is important. Work hard, but have fun. Being a professional can make someone become very serious and uptight. However, make sure that people see that you like to have fun too and reward people by having fun in the office,” said Wagner-Kingery.

Do not forget where you came from either. Coriolan advises you to, “Remember the mentors you had throughout college and before. Better yet, keep in contact with your mentors. I’ve found most of my strengths have come from the people I most admire including faculty, staff, fellow alumni, and others. Those relationships don’t end after graduation.”

Hudnall suggests to 2015 grads, “I want all of you to enjoy the last few days on campus. Enjoy the surroundings, Storm Lake, your friends and even the people you didn’t hang out with or care for during your time there, professors included. There will come a time after graduating that you’ll miss all of it; every person, professor, class, activity and even the homework assignments. Oh, and take the best naps you can. Those disappear quickly.”

“This is the time in your life you get to take everything you learned about yourself while in college and start to create the person you want to be moving forward. Live your life and live it now, because ‘life’ will happen and it will be too late. You have plenty of time to work and pay off loans the rest of your life. If you want to move to California, go. If you want to apply for a job outside of your degree area, do it. If you want to travel, see the world. The time after college provides you with the best opportunity to chase your dreams before completely growing up. If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough,” said Hudnall.

Congratulations to Buena Vista University’s 2015 graduates. May your futures be as bright as our streaming colors and you remember the students, faculty, and alumni that are here to support you with your new chapter in life. Go out and chase your dreams.

Graphic by Justice Gage