Sitting on one side of a Hamblin bedroom is senior Anna Lemen, who has it all together. In fewer than 100 days she will fly across the world to teach children in Kuwait for two years. Her travel, food, clothing and salary are set. All she has to do is enjoy the rest of her time at Knox.
“I’m excited and stressed, but I’m looking forward to it,” Lemen said.
Across that same room is her roommate, senior Marya Slade, who is still searching for her first post-graduation job. She’s searched on her own, utilized the Career Center and spoken with family, but the search continues.
“I’ve sent out about 15 different cover letters and resumes, and I am in the process of being interviewed for a number of different positions: Chicago, Washington, Pennsylvania, Maryland,” Slade said.
With the term coming to an end and graduation just around the corner, seniors across campus are planning the next phase of their life. However, amongst most seniors at least, it seems to be more planning than anything else. Some students believe that the amount of work they receive from Knox makes trying to move on more difficult.
Senior Lizzy Rodgers has hit the pause button on the job search to finish her Knox career with the least stress possible.
“The job search is going, but I’ve made peace with starting the bulk of it after I graduate so I can focus on one thing at a time. With the workload that Knox expects from us and with extracurriculars, I feel that it is unrealistic to have to also research other companies, make a resume, have the proper interview etiquette and find something that you enjoy doing the rest of your life É It’s like three more classes at Knox put together.”
Knox’s workload certainly can be taxing and definitely can become overwhelming if not managed correctly. For seniors it may be most difficult as they want to enjoy the rest of their college career, graduate with good grades and find that elusive first job.
Senior Bekah Lauer knows all about this. Her Honors project took the majority of the time she would have used for job searching.
“The job search is going all right. It has been a little slow for me because I decided to do Honors my senior year, so I’ve dedicated a lot of my time to prepare for my defense. I chose to dedicate myself to it and finish up my college career to a certain extent before moving on to the next step.”
Yet that next step is what is so important. It is where these seniors leave Knox behind and move on to the real world. Senior Nellie Erikson, who began searching her sophomore year and will work at Nordstrom in Oak Brook as the Assistant Manager in the Dresses Department, did not find her academics stifling due to her search. However, she is aware of how the workload could hinder others.
“Personally, academic responsibilities did not get in the way of my job search,” Erikson said. “But I can see how it would for many Knox students, especially with finding time to make use of the Career Center resources and then finding time to take action on the career advice they suggest for you. A lot of times students feel a sense of ease after talking with one of the career professionals at the Career Center, but then get caught up in their rigorous academics and lose confidence and drive to stay proactive with their career search on their own time.”
Most seniors who currently have jobs began that next step as early as sophomore or freshman year. Yetunde Durotoye, a senior who has a job post graduation, began that step in the summer between her freshman and sophomore year.
“To be successful in the job search, you have to think way ahead,” Durotoye said. “For the job that I have now, I started the search in September. I had the list I was working on and narrowed down until I was happy with it. I dedicated about 10-12 hours a week to applications, my resume, and cover letters with those companies specifically until I heard back.”
Senior Tim Worrell has his job lined up already at BNSF Railway.
“My dad is an engineer here in Galesburg yard, and he told me about BNSF having programs for graduates early on. After doing my research, I found out that it is the program for me.” Immediately after graduation he will travel to Texas to begin training as a Trainmaster.
“One of the biggest things I’ve seen is students were waiting too long,” Director of the Bastian Family Career Center Terrie Saline said. “The economy is starting to bounce back and I do see signs of it. We have a large amount of employers reaching out to us, but I think one of the obstacles is that students start thinking about their job search, about their resumes and start thinking about what they want to do in May. It shouldn’t be like that.”
Assistant Director Krista Nelson provided insight on the reasons she thinks students are focused more on planning than actually searching. She believes students really haven’t shifted their mindsets from the academic environment to what they’re going to do after graduation.
“Students are still immersed in their classes, in finals and are still thinking about ending their academic careers and haven’t really moved on yet to what they’re going to do afterwards.”
Finishing at Knox can take a toll on students, but in order to finish with a plan for what to do next, all they have to do is ask.
“Students are more focused on the here and now rather than the future,” Nelson said. “They believe that when they get to June, they’ll settle it. Some students believe that they’re too involved in studies or not too sure on what they want to do. We want students to feel less threatened so that students could receive advice, whether career or resume wise. We want students to know that we’re here to help them no matter what phase in the job searching process they’re in.”
While the job search may be over for some and is still continuing for others, it looks as if the Career Center may have the tools to help anyone determine what their next steps should be.