The Last Dance: What a Senior Must Do
The Art of Networking
As a journalism major, one of the best things you can do to help yourself get a job after graduation, besides internships and experience, is networking. One of the groups that I am a member and co-vice president of, Carolina Association of Future Magazine Editors, is a great resource for that.
At the end of January we held a networking night, where editors from across the region, including Regina Oliver from the Carolina Alumni Review, an editor from Chapel Hill magazine, and someone from Our State, among others, met with students to be asked about their careers and the magazine industry. I always find events like this to be extremely helpful because these people can always point you in the right direction.
On Friday our group took a trip to Greensboro to Pace Communications, one of the top custom publishing companies in the country that produces magazines for companies like the Four Seasons Hotels, USAA Insurance, and many of the major airlines. I think that this is a part of the magazine industry that not a lot of people know about and is often forgotten. I had never considered this when I thought about looking for a job, but the trip definitely piqued my interest.
I have also taken it upon myself to start reaching out to alumni who work for magazines. I have contacted some local magazines to meet up with writers and editors, but I have spent most of my time getting in touch with people who work for a consumer magazine in New York since that is ultimately where I hope to end up. And I am happy to say that the networking further benefited me in helping me get accepted to a trip to New York City.
Every semester, a group within the School of Journalism, called the Journalism Alumni & Friends Association, sponsors a trip to a certain city, where students meet and network with alumni in their interested fields. Last semester I applied to go on their trip to Chicago but wasn't accepted. But fate must have been smiling on me because I was then able to apply for the spring break trip to New York, and this time I was accepted!
So JAFA is now working on setting up appointments, while I am working on perfecting my resume and portfolio. I can't wait to go back to the Big Apple!
"Dear Graduating Senior or Graduate Student:
"I want to extend my most sincere congratulations as you complete your degree. You have worked hard, and you can be very proud of your accomplishment and look forward to a bright future."
This is the beginning of an attachment to an e-mail that the School of Journalism sent to me yesterday. It caught me totally off-guard. I was just checking my e-mail between classes, and the next thing I know I am getting an official invitation to my commencement. The university holds a big one for everybody in Kenan stadium, but then later that afternoon the j-school is having ours in the Dean Dome, where we get to walk across the stage (what a great way to go out!).
I have been planning graduation a little before this e-mail came, making sure my family can come and that my mom has asked for that day off of work (she's a nurse who works on the weekends). But it was all a little abstract before this. Just a lingering event that I knew would come but in some ways was just as happy to ignore.
But just as some of my previous blog posts show, every time I even come close to forgetting that I am a senior and will not be here after May, an event comes up that jars me back to reality, or my friends or professors say something that puts me face-to-face with the idea of graduation and the unknown that follows.
The invitation ends with this: "Please know that Commencement does not mean the end of your connection to the School. Everyone in the School stands ready to help you throughout your career. As only one example, you are welcome to use our Career Services Office. We also have many continuing-education programs, work with an array of professional associations and want to serve you as much as we can. I also hope you will continue to support the School as your circumstances allow."
Wow. I came scary close to crying when I read this last part (I'm only sharing that with you guys because I know you will understand how I'm feeling). But the idea of cutting connections to any part of the university never even crossed my mind. I am not an alumna yet, but I know that Chapel Hill is a place that will always be a part of you, that you can never truly leave or forget about. I have a feeling of longing for our Southern part of heaven even when I go home for short breaks.
"What is it that binds us to this place as to no other?" Charles Kuralt said in his speech at Carolina's bicentennial celebration in 1993. Truer words were never spoken. My beloved University, you will always be a part of me, defining who I am, just as we are all forever a part of it, making it one of the greatest universities in the country.
But a good friend of mine looked at it another way. These students are ushering in a new phase of their lives, just as we are saying goodbye to one of ours. They are, in a way, our replacements. My friend said that it made her question whether or not she made the most of her time here or did everything she wanted to do while she was here. But I don't think anyone does. At the beginning, we always put things off, thinking there's no rush because we still have four years to do everything. But before we know it, we get too caught up in graduation applications, graduate school applications, PeaceCorps applications, or job applications. All we can do is be grateful we were given this chance at all.
I've realized that lately I haven't stopped to take a look around, and wonder how many other students haven't either. I haven't stopped to take in the campus and its beauty. Or the glory of Dean Dome – who knows how long it will be before I watch a game there again? I haven't made time to just relax and people-watch in the grassy quads or the bustling Pit. To appreciate all that UNC has to offer and all that it has given me.
So to the class of 2014, promise me this: that you'll make a list of 100 things to do before you leave, and you'll do them all; that you'll balance your social life and your academics; that you'll take that crazy class just for fun, or that class that will really make you think; that you won't take yourself too seriously and risk forgetting what's really important; and that you'll make friends who will affect your lives in ways you never thought possible. And get ready for the best four years of your life.