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  Age: 26 Graduation Date: 2010 Major: Mathematics, Economics School: University of Utah Current Position: Instructional Designer  

Q: What was your biggest fear about leaving college and entering the “real world”?

I put off entering the real world to enroll in a one-year master's program in International Comparative Education at Stanford University. I knew I wanted my career to be in educational development in low-resource countries, as I saw a direct connection between education and a thriving economy. But, I had no clue how to break into that field. My master's program was the perfect transition for me.

Q: What five words would you use to explain your job search as a recent grad?

Exhilarating, Powerful, Eye-opening, Vulnerable, Persistence.

Q: What is it about your situation now that makes you a happy grad?

I feel stable financially and am doing what I love. I have a challenging role, am part of a close-knit team, and am working on the cutting edge of online education.

Q: What are the best things about your current role?

This is actually my fourth job since graduating with my master's in 2011. My last three employers, including my current one, poached me from the one before. Frankly, I was dissatisfied with each role (the first was too unstable and uncollaborative; the second was trying to suck me dry without proper compensation; the third was incredibly boring), so when the next offer came along I took it every time. But I'm ready to commit to my current role because it's challenging, intellectually stimulating, collaborative, fun, and allows a lot of flexibility.

Q: What advice would you give recent grads today about leaving college, and finding a career and life they love?

Decide on some functions that would make you happy. Do you like making things or using your hands? Do you like to think a lot? Do you like to organize things? Do you like to be on your feet moving around, or would you prefer to be at a computer? After envisioning some daily tasks you'll be doing, read a bunch of job descriptions and start to get a sense of what kind of title you could see yourself having (e.g., digital marketing strategist). Then, contact people who are currently in that role and talk to them about their experiences. You might even start applying for a few jobs or expressing interest in certain jobs you speak about with the people you connect with. Until you nail that job, continue researching the industry and role(s) you're interested in, and try to differentiate yourself by starting a blog with your thoughts on the happenings in that field, or inviting people from your network to discussions that you facilitate. There are many ways to differentiate yourself and show potential employers that you're proactively pushing yourself to learn. You're showing them that you'll be an asset to their team.

Q. What are some of the best things about being a recent grad?

You're young, opportunities are endless, and people really WANT to help! Now is the time to reach out to many people and begin fostering relationships. You have energy and good health (hopefully) and a lot of potential. There's so much to look forward to, if you stay productive, stay positive, and stay out of trouble (hehe).
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