For seniors about to graduate, the next step after graduation is critically important. In many ways, it can mean securing a stable job or getting admitted into a long awaited program.
It means that all the hard work put into four years finally paid off, literally and figuratively.
These days, however, college students often hear the phrase “a college degree is the equivalent of a high school diploma.”
They also have to worry about college loans, and often times they are forced to make the decision of taking out more loans for graduate school.
For students at Saint Peter’s University who want to pursue a wide variety of careers, these are all valid and prominent realities.
Leandis Cedeno is an economics and finance major. Her bright smile and bubbly personality make her an easy choice for an employer looking to hire a new intern, and she has had multiple internship opportunities since committing to Saint Peter’s.
She believes there can be pressure on students to start their careers or get into graduate school right after graduation, but she says that students must tackle these goals with an early start.
“If you begin to intern at your early stages of college, you’ll gain valuable experiences you’ll like to pursue after graduation. At times your internships can lead to job offers right after graduation,” she said.
Cedeno recommends asking for advice and choosing what fits your goal, but she says that a lot of this rests on the individual.
“It’s really up to the individual to have a unique set of assets that make you stand out. Everyone is unique in their own way whether they go to SPU or an Ivy League school,” she explained.
To Cedeno, Saint Peter’s in particular is a great start because the skills she has learned in her major have helped her in her internships. It has been her experience that there are various roles and programs available at Saint Peter’s that can help make students more competitive for jobs and graduate programs.
Cedeno, a junior, hopes to one day be as successful as Saint Peter’s graduates like Ryan Campen ’19 and Madel Liquido ’19, who reflect the points she brings up.
“I think that SPU made me a competitive candidate because I decided to get as involved as possible. I took on many leadership positions and volunteer opportunities to gain experience,” said Campen. “I also took the time to learn from my mentors at the university before I left.”
Campen was an urban studies and anthropology double major with minors in both social justice and biology. As someone who took on a lot during college, he says that he was easily able to make the transition to graduate school and his job because he was able to prove himself to be a strong and reliable worker.
Liquido, on the other hand, is a Saint Peter’s STEM alum. She graduated with a major in math and a minor in computer science.
While she lists current challenges like working full-time while going to school, she says that she was able to procure a full-time job before the start of her senior year.
She also believes that it is not the school that makes a successful student, but the student’s work ethic.
“I don’t think SPU makes students more competitive because it depends on the work ethic of the student,” she said. “If the student works hard while they’re at SPU, performs well and accrues a good amount of professional/research experience depending on the field, then I believe this is what makes a competitive candidate.”
Campen and Liquido were both students widely known on campus. Liquidio was known as a math wiz. Campen was president of the Student Government Association.
The hard work they put into four years paid off, but how can current students be assured that theirs will too?
Afterall, most people are not gifted psychics who can tell how the future will turn out.
This is a fear that current senior, Lia Finnegan, acknowledges as she is about to receive her degree in history.
As she recognizes that there is a pressure on seniors to have everything figured out by graduation, she also says that these fears are unfounded because in reality, no one has everything figured out by the age of 22.
Finnegan points out the silver lining: students can and should prepare for the future, and Saint Peter’s can help.
“I do believe that my time at Saint Peter’s had predisposed me to being a more socially-conscious worker and a valuable job candidate. Generally, I feel as though the university does a decent job of instilling in its students a sense of career readiness,” said Finnegan, who wants to pursue a career in service and social justice.
Finnegan’s experience in terms of preparedness echoes that of alumni and current students.
She points out, however, that “the university still has a long way to go when it comes to providing career preparation and career readiness training for students of diverse majors.”
To Finnegan, it is crucial that the university provide all academic departments with equal support in career and internship opportunities that she says will help students “in translating their professional and academic interests into a viable, fulfilling career post-graduation,” a goal that all students hope to achieve when entering college.