Connections important for life after college

Reaching the end of my last semester at UCA and trying to enter myself into a nearly-nonexistent job market for college graduates, I’ve realized how important the connections we make in college are.
Growing up, my mother always told me that getting a job would depend on who I know. I would always react the same way, thinking her full of it and would dispute her argument by saying I would get a job based on my qualifications and skills. However, I’ve come to realize that the references you put on a resume are more important than anything else.
Throughout my three years at UCA, I’ve developed a decent rapport with my professors and peers. Additionally, I’ve taken an internship that has given me experience and even more credible references, an internship that will potentially lead to a job somewhere else right out of college.
I’ve seen too many friends spend years studying at a university only to graduate and find that the job market has no room for college graduates. We’re on the tail-end of a recession and unemployment has been at a high, and the truth is, you need all the help you can get in finding a job, and a lot of this help can come from your professors. Not only do they know credible contacts and can help push you toward a job, but they can provide the good word to get you a job somewhere more desirable.
However, for your references to be able to vouch for you, you must put yourself out there and do the work. Showing those you work under early on that you’re reliable in your work is crucial not only to graduating college, but to moving on afterward.
Additionally, strive for notoriety in your area of study. Being a mass communication major, I’ve applied for and won awards from the Arkansas College Media Association, which looks great on the “Accomplishments” part of my resume. I know each department has benefits such as these – the history department, for example, sends students on trips to speak at seminars, and the English and writing departments surely have places students can submit literary pieces for review. All you have to do is ask.
And now, as I reach the end of my last written piece to be published in The Echo, I must cliché it up and thank those who have led me to the stage I’ll walk on Dec. 17.
The journalism and history departments I’ve been lucky enough to study in have offered me countless opportunities and have made my college experience difficult, but remarkable. I, of course, have too many people to thank to name them all, from my first journalism instructors to professors who gave me second chances on assignments when I probably didn’t deserve them, and from past editors of The Echo who paved my way with the publication to the staff I worked with during my six semesters here.
Which brings me to my experience with The Echo. Though difficult at times, its been a great experience and I’ve met some great people. Inversely, there have been times where it was a terrible, terrible headache. Between dealing with mountains of negative feedback from students and faculty this semester as editor and trying to juggle my position with the publication with an internship, a full course load and at some times a 40-hour work week, the semester certainly packed a weight.
Though UCA has been shone in a negative light this semester, students shouldn’t let the black marks left by former members of administration keep them from appreciating the education they receive here. The faculty and staff — at least those I’ve experienced — have been nothing short of extraordinary, and I wouldn’t trade the education I’ve received here for anything else.

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