“Hanging” Up the Mantle: Leadership Transitioning

By: David

With graduation around the corner, it’s crazy to see so many years go by with a blink of an eye and detach myself from the college environment. It’s a scary, yet exciting thought, and deep down, I know I’ll truly miss college and the opportunities that come with it. One aspect I know I will for sure miss once I leave the college bubble is campus involvement and holding leadership roles. Before giving a preview on today’s post, I just wanted to put this out there that the title is intentional. Since we’re all so familiar with the “taking up the mantle” idiom, I figured I would throw in a twist by titling this post, “hanging up the mantle” which essentially is supposed to represent stepping down as a leader. (Clever, I know!) With that being said, in today’s post, I will be focusing on my experiences of stepping down from leadership roles and what are ways and questions a student can ease the transition of going from super-duper involved on-campus to the “boring, dull” lifestyle in the real-world. Well then, let’s dive in!

Stepping Down from Leadership Positions
From personal experience, I think one of the most difficult aspects of being a leader is not the stress that comes with leading nor is it the backlash and criticism you get from people, but rather the moment when you realize it’s time to step down. The moment when you realize that your dreams, goals, and vision as a leader will diminish is unsettling. (Okay, it’s not that extreme, there are successors for a reason!) On the contrary, I think some individuals may feel differently and fathom the relief that comes with stepping down more than anything, which is understandable too.

From my own experience, this was especially relevant in my active membership with Asian Pacific American Association (APAA). I’m sure by now, you perhaps are aware of APAA from my previous blog posts. As an active member and previous board member, I recall there being moments where I wasn’t ready to let go and still wanted to be involved and contribute to the organization as best I could. Eventually, I realized the importance of letting go and restraining myself and ultimately how important it was to simply believe in the new generation of leaders with their ideas and beliefs in regards to taking care the organization. Granted, I was still involved with the organization, it’s just that getting involved looked a lot different. For any leader, really, it’s difficult when you’ve invested so much time and effort into an organization and literally have attached yourself to it whether it be mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. An important part of stepping down for me, I’ve realized, is that being a leader doesn’t always have to mean that you’re in the front line leading the charge. It can also mean staying behind and helping others rise to positions of leadership. As part of leaving the college bubble and launching into the real world, I know the best thing I can do as a leader with previous experience is to give back to the next generation of leaders. As my time of leading has come to an end, I’ve realized that part of stepping down is inspiring and guiding others to step up.

The Actual Transition
I think any student who is or has been involved on campus and served in a leadership role knows that time flies by all too fast when having to balance, school, work, and extracurricular activities such as leadership positions. Especially for graduating seniors, this creates more issues as finding a job only creates more chaos. But what happens when a person goes from planning, studying, working, organizing, eating, sleeping, job-hunting, and exercising, to simply just working? I think this is a reality that many students face as the fluid nature of college switches to the routine-based lifestyle of working after graduation.

Honestly, I, myself, have not gotten the chance to let the idea of graduation settle in due to the busy nature of college itself. With having conversations with career counselors and peers, I’ve only had the chance to ponder on it slightly, but the thought of going from busy to boring is quite depressing honestly. As I navigate these last few weeks of college before graduation, it’ll be smart for me to prepare the transition from college to the working world. Granted, I’ll still be doing summer research in the Twin Ports area, but I think preparing mentally and emotionally to slowly transition out of college will be a real challenge. Of course, I don’t have all the answers to ease the transition as I am still in the process of doing so, but I think it’s important for any college student to just be aware and mentally/emotionally prepared to leave college.

But hey, there’s hope! Just because college is ending doesn’t necessarily mean that getting involved has to end as well. As young professionals stepping into the real world, the chance to get involved in the community is endless and the opportunity to network is even greater than what the college level has to offer. For instance, there are a number of organizations dedicated to serve and connect young professionals. On a local level, the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce offers a number of opportunities for professionals both young and old. Additionally, if you have certain special interests and causes that you would like to advocate for, there are even more opportunities. Personally, I’ve been looking forward to getting involved with two different organizations after I graduate: Coalition of Asian American Leaders & National Association of Asian American Professionals. Ultimately, I see college as a unique stepping stone for students to get active in their communities. If student leaders are able to translate the work that they’ve put it in at the university level into their communities afterward, just imagine the positive impact and change that can occur in the world.

Conclusion
So where do we go from here with zero motivation to study, “senior slide” kicking in if it hasn’t already, and the struggles of going from college-life to the real world? Well, if I told you I have all the right answers, I would be lying. I think the important piece is to simply reflect on the time in college and enjoy the last few moments before it all ends. Furthermore, ask questions and have conversations with professionals and staff who work with students who go through this transition such as career counselors, advisors, etc. I know for myself, my supervisor, Ellen, has pushed me to seek out opportunities past the college bubble and to consider ways of still getting involved in the working world. For many, a lot of individuals are ready and can’t wait to fly off into the real world, and for the very few like myself, it’ll be a bittersweet ending leaving the college life and the opportunities and activities that came with it. Like I said before, if student leaders were able to make a great impact at the college level, imagine the potential for growth and positive change in the future once this effort is transferred to our communities whether that be on a local, regional, national, or international level. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and change the world (for the better, of course) graduates!

Read David’s other posts

Senior Year: Anything Can Happen

By: Logan

So you have three years of college under your belt. You had somewhat of an idea of what you wanted to do upon graduation, but now you are not exactly sure of what you want to do. Back when you were a freshman or sophomore you used to think to yourself, “Well, I still have some time before I graduate!” This thought continued to persist until one day you woke up and realized, “Oh wow. It’s time to decide.” This may be an exciting time or a scary time for you. In a few months you will find yourself out of college and in the real world. This is the point in many students’ college careers where they think that everything is coming to an end and decisions have to be made quickly.

I have pondered this a lot lately, being that I will graduate in the spring and I am also unsure of what the future will hold. Many people will see this as being unprepared or unorganized, but I see it as an opportunity. We need to realize that it is okay to not have our entire futures planned out! Some people thrive from making a specific plan and following it, but for others (including me) this is a great time to explore the possibilities of what we can do.

sr-year-leap

It is common for college students to compare ourselves to classmates around themselves. For those of us who do not have an exact plan it is hard for us to not compare ourselves to that student who has their entire life mapped out. We all know this type of student, the one who knows exactly where they will be working, where they will be living, and seems to have their whole career in line. Kudos to this type of student, I have admiration for people like this, but not everyone has the same mentality.

There are many advantages to not having your future all planned out. This leaves room for more experimentation and potentially more opportunities. Those who do not have an exact picture of what they want to do will look at a larger variety of options post graduation. This allows for the student to develop multiple paths and backup plans in case certain options fall through. For students who have a very narrow idea for a career path it could be catastrophic to them if their career plan does not work out the way they want it to. Imagine having your entire life planned out to follow one specific path, and then one day it all comes crashing down because you did not get your desired job or internship. This is why it is important to have a few ideas and plans of what you would be interested in doing, so you always have something to fall back on.

Don’t get me wrong, it is important to have a general idea of an area you would be interested in, but it is important to not be too narrow minded. Also keep in mind that we have a variety of resources here at UMD that can help with these questions you may have. The counselors at Career and Internship Services are exceptionally helpful with brainstorming ideas, assisting with plans, and getting you ready for these opportunities. Take advantage of these resources and it will definitely help you in the long run.

The real world can be a scary place, but it is okay! Not having an exact idea of what you want to do leaves more doors open for potential opportunities. So continue your research on different areas that you are interested in and don’t limit yourself on what you can do. With the resources available to us at UMD and the excellent education we have earned, we will figure it out eventually. Until then, enjoy the ride!

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Logan’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Cam Adams

Let Us Know What You’re Doing

Calling all 2015-2016 UMD Grads (undergrad & masters)! Let us know where you’re working or continuing your education. We use this information to showcase the success of our graduates and to help current UMD students see what all they could do with their majors. And no, we don’t ask you for money…just a few minutes of your time. You can see published Graduate Follow-up Reports in action on our website. Click to graphic below to take you to filling out the quick survey.

Take GFUR

The Truth About Career Success

By: Ellen (Career Counselor & guest author)

A few weeks ago I was thinking about my own career success and how I’ve defined that since graduating from college 10.5 years ago. “Career success” at 22 probably revolved around getting a full-time job of some sort in order to pass time before I was ready for grad school. “Career success” now, at 33, looks very different. It’s about using both of my degrees to own and grow in my current role, while doing some strategic planning for whatever may come next. Using both of my degrees (Communication/Business for undergrad and Counseling for grad) wasn’t necessarily at the forefront of my mind when job searching for my first post-grad school position. However, that concept has now become incredibly important to defining career success for me because I’ve experienced how great it is for me to use both of my degrees in my current job.

Truth About Career Success

Here’s the truth about defining career success…it looks different for everyone. Some people have it figured out when they graduate from college, but a lot of people don’t. Figuring out your career and career success takes time, it’s messy, and make look different depending on your stage in life.

In addition to sharing my own experience about figuring out “career success,” I did what everyone does when they’re looking for advice…I turned to Facebook. Here are some pieces of wisdom about career success from people who are in various stages of their careers and in various industries.

  • Even though you have a degree, you still have to work hard to succeed.
  • Be patient and open to opportunities given to you. You never know, it might sound horrible, but turn out to be something you’re really passionate about.
  • You won’t use all your qualifications in all your jobs. Being (or believing you are) overqualified doesn’t mean the job you got hired to do doesn’t still have to get done by you.
  • Talking about problems without suggesting solutions doesn’t really help anyone, especially not your reputation.
  • Everything you get, you have to earn. You may have taken leadership courses and been the top of your class and done everything you were supposed to in college, but chances are good that you are going to start on the bottom and have to work hard to move up.
  • You will not get the same kind of do-overs that you got in college. You don’t get to pick what your tasks are, you don’t get to decide you don’t feel like doing _____ today.

So how do you define career success?

Photo source: Unsplash | Jeff Sheldon

Not the End of the Tunnel

By: Glen

July 1, 2015. It’s been about six weeks since I walked across the stage to signify the end of my undergraduate education at UMD. I am now a proud Bulldog alumnus. In the last six weeks, almost everything about my life has changed.

New house.
New roommates.
New job.
No UMD…

For the past four years, I was on the campus of UMD almost every weekday (minus the three month span in between my first and second years as a student). It wasn’t just for education; I dedicated my life to the school as a student employee, even through the summers. UMD was not just a place for me to work, it was my life.

Tunnel photo

Now I sit here; six weeks removed from the entity I dedicated the last four years of my life to. Suddenly, you realize all these moments from the past are a blur. Everything in life is new again.

My last couple blog posts were about the anxiety facing the unknown abyss that is life after graduation. Now that I am fully submerged, I can confidently inform you that it is not an abyss such as the deepest parts of this earth, but the relatively shallow ocean waters around a great reef. It is not as dark as you would fear, and is not as deep as you would expect. Yet, things are not perfect. The underwater world is still unpredictable enough for anything to happen. If you panic, you could still be in great danger. If you rush, things will go wrong. Actions need to be measured and calculated. When you know the next move, acting with confidence will push you forward.

I am happy to report that I enjoy this new life. There are numerous reasons: I am learning a bunch in my new job. My new roommates keep me incredibly active and are always supportive. I know there are going to be future options to propel me toward my career and life goals. Clocking out legitimately leaves work behind for the rest of the day. There is plenty to like about the graduate life… Right now, anyway.

There is an incredible difference between the life I led as a student, and the one I am already leading as a graduate. I suppose that is the whole point of this tangled web of metaphoric blog post I weft. Yes, there are plenty of unknowns to be afraid of for when you yourself graduate; however, you will find a way to make it to where you want to be if you are patient enough to calculate your post-grad moves in life. Trust your friends. Trust your mentors. Trust yourself.

Read Glen’s other posts

Photo source: Unsplash|Modestas Urbonas

Grad School: Year 1

By: Hayley

Editor’s note: We’re welcoming Hayley back for a guest post! Check out all her previous work on the blog from when she was a student.

I have learned a lot of things in my first year in grad school. I expected to learn standard course material and major information you need to have before you move into your chosen profession. I didn’t expect to learn so much about what it is really like to be surrounded by people who share your passion; something I imagine is similar to what it will be like in the real world.

Grad School Yr 1

The people in my program all want to be school counselors and, naturally, when you narrow down the field like that you end up with people who share common interests and beliefs. I think this is something I should have expected but having never experienced something like this I had no idea what to expect or how to prepare for it. It kind of caught me off guard, in a good way. Being surrounded by people who are so much like yourself gives you the opportunity to truly be yourself and to grow as professionals together. I have made some great friends in my first year and will be entering my internships in the fall knowing that there are people supporting me and going through the same thing I am. I know once we graduate I will have a network of professionals who I can count on.

I have also learned more about myself in one year of grad school than in all four years of my undergrad. I am growing into the adult I would like to be and getting to know my adult self. Along with all of this growth there have been a lot of growing pains. I have become a stronger, more confident person and as a result of this, failures are becoming more difficult. I am putting in a great deal of effort to build up my own self confidence and self esteem but it becomes hard to do that when you are passed over for jobs or when you struggle to find internship sites. However, that network of future professionals in my cohort are there to encourage and support me through all of this. Grad school so far has been an amazing experience. It has been one of the toughest things I have ever done and I’m sure the tough part is just beginning, but if I could go back I would do it all over again.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Hayley’s other posts

Photo source: Unsplash | William Iven

Advice from the Real World

By: Ellen (Career Counselor & Guest Poster)

We are nearing graduation and I thought it would be fitting to share some life advice with our graduating seniors. We’ve actually done this before. Last year we gave out 10 pieces of advice for the class of 2014. I promise you, that advice still applies to the class of 2015. I wanted to share some real advice, from real people who’ve been out in the “real world” for awhile. Naturally, I turned to Facebook. I put out a call to friends (many of whom I have either went to college or grad school with or worked with) and they delivered some stellar words of wisdom about navigating life after graduation.

Advice from the Real World

  • You won’t work a traditional 40 hours a week at work. Be prepared to come early and stay late.
  • Reading a book never fully prepares you for the real world. There will be things that only experience will train you for. When in those situations, do not be afraid to ask for assistance. If no one is there to assist you, use your best-educated judgment and learn from the experience.
  • Stay in school as long as possible. Learn, travel, experience the world. Don’t join the real world – it’s draining. Ha – maybe that’s not a good one. 😉
  • From every experience, you either learn how you do, or you learn how you don’t. You learn how you do want to complete a task/project, or you learn how you don’t. You learn how you do want to treat people, or how you don’t want to treat them. You learn how you want to be treated, or how you don’t. You learn how much you do value a person in your life, or sadly, sometimes how much you don’t…or how much you do matter to someone or how much you don’t. But there is always a lesson in everything, even if you can’t see it right when it’s happening.
  • Stop thinking that wearing leggings as pants to work is acceptable.
  • Don’t bring fish for lunch to reheat in the break room.
  • Remember that it’s great if you like your coworkers, but that shouldn’t really matter when it comes to working well with them.
  • Everyone seems to be so preoccupied with finding the perfect job, and picking their “perfect” career right out of the gate. That never happens. How many people do you know who are doing the same thing they started doing, 10 or 20 years later? Just find the right job for right now and everything tends to sort itself out one step and at time.
  • Network, network, network. It is not “what” but “who” you know.
  • Be true to yourself and don’t forget to love your life. Also self care, self care, self care!
  • Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to have your “passion” be what you do for work. Yes, it’s nice if you really love what you’re doing for work, but that doesn’t always happen. Find something you’re passionate about and make sure it’s a part of your life somehow, whether in your work or your life outside of work.

Photo source: Unsplash/David Marcu