Graduation checklist: 5 steps to prepare for life after college

Anna Nuss, a junior graphic design major from Brandon, South Dakota, was very excited to think about what the future brings with her major and career after her graduation. Miki Akiyama | Sun News Daily

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Collegiate seniors are approaching their long-awaited graduation day, but there are still a few things students need to prepare for before the end of the college life.

Apply for graduation

If you haven’t applied for graduation this semester, you may want to apply now rather than later. If you want to graduate with a bachelor’s degree this coming May, you’re going to have to pay a late application fee of $50 when you apply. If you’re planning to graduate with a master’s or associate degree, you need to apply and pay the normal graduation fee of $55 ($80 for graduate students). If you want to graduate at the end of summer 2023, then March 1 is your deadline before late fees are applied.

Master’s and associate degree application deadlines are Feb. 1 for spring 2023 and May 1 if you want to graduate at the end of the summer.

“A lot of students forget to [apply for graduation], or they think it’s automatic,” said Bryan Jacobs, media studies adviser. “It’s not automatic, they need to make the effort to announce to the university that they intend to be finished by the deadline that they choose.”

Regardless of what degree you’re working toward or when you’re planning on graduating, it’s best to get a head start with the graduation application. That way, you just have to show up and smile as that glorious diploma is bestowed upon you on graduation day.

Graduation checklist

After you apply for graduation, it is recommended that you meet with your adviser to make sure you have everything you need. This can range from acquiring your cap and gown as well as ensuring your mailing address is up-to-date before official diplomas are mailed.

If you’re not sticking around St. George after graduation, it might be best to have it sent to your permanent address.

If you need to make any special substitutions to meet the requirements for your preferred major, this meeting is the place to do it.

Career help

So, you’re ready for graduation? That’s great, but now it’s time to think about the future.

It can be pretty frightening to take the first steps toward the rest of your life, but that’s OK. Luckily, Utah Tech University has resources to help you enter the work force. The university’s career services department is available to help you begin the search for your first job after the end of your education. You can schedule an appointment with one of its many career coaches to make sure your resume is up to snuff, finding job opportunities and helping you find the correct starting point in reaching your dream job.

The career services website has other resources for student use. Handshake is a job finding application much like you would find elsewhere. The difference being: Most jobs posted on the website are for students with a degree fresh out of the oven. It also has job openings for those who are looking to find a part-time job while earning your degree.

“Handshake is our international student job board where you’ll find employers who are looking for students with minimal experience,” said career coach Asha Stapley. “When students ask where to start, that’s where I direct them toward first.”

Handshake is Stapley’s first go-to recommendation for those looking for jobs right after graduation.

As you browse the career service’s website, you will also find the “What Can I Do With This Major” tab if you’ve ever wondered what kind of careers are in your reach with your respective major. It lists extensive options for possible occupations as well as the skill sets you need to have in order to get them.

The hunt begins

As graduation gets closer, it can be difficult to have a good understanding of where you’re going after college. This is why a lot of students start job hunting before they get their diplomas.

“For me, I’m worrying more long term, like I feel like I need to find a job before the semester ends so that I can enjoy the rest of the semester worry free,” said Abbigail Jones, a media studies senior from West Jordan.

If you’re not sure how to get to your desired job, Stapley has a possible solution.

Stapley said: “Linkedin is great tool to network with individuals. I don’t think students take advantage of the fact that there are people out there doing their dream job already, and you’d be surprised how willing these people are to answer questions.”

Find someone with your dream job or entry-level occupation and send them a message over the platform. This can range from a simple, “Where did you get your start?” to a more direct, “Tell me all of your secrets.” There’s a good chance they will message you back with some starting points to achieving your goals.

Another tactic that can be taken for granted is a simple Google search. Not only will a good number of jobs appear on the top of the page, but going down this rabbit hole can lead you to networking opportunities that can lead to welcome yet unexpected results.

The thing you must not do in your search for jobs is to expect that you will find your opportunity by doing nothing. Jobs are not going to fall right into your lap just because you have the degree. Actively searching, building a portfolio, and adjusting your parameters of an entry-level job can work wonders.

Good luck

The anxiety of graduation can be quite jarring for those who aren’t prepared to take the first steps of joining the work force, but overall, it’s a cause for celebration. Receiving your degree is a thing to be proud of and all these steps are here to make the process of getting there as easy as possible.