Keys to the kingdom: simplifying post-graduation planning

Gina Ender  |  Contributing Writer

For many students, planning for the future post-graduation may seem intimidating. The thought of internships, interviews, job searches and financial plans can be a daunting task. By taking practical steps and utilizing available resources, students will minimize uncertainty and maximize success in attaining goals.       

As of this semester, APU has revitalized its Office of Career Services, now reimagined into the Center for Career and Calling. According to the center’s website, they help students apply for internships, jobs and graduate school and assist in choosing majors and exploring careers. From polishing resumes to perfecting LinkedIn profiles, the center assists students in every step of preparing for a job.

Starting where you are       

According to Office of Innovation Director Nate Lu, the first step in achieving success in a desired field is to do something today that will influence tomorrow. He said a combination of self-awareness, a hard work ethic and a good attitude will help to lead students toward their goals.

“I think the biggest thing that any student can do is see themselves as the future, not as today,” Lu said.

Lu advises students to stop seeing themselves as such. He said the worst thing students can do is conduct themselves like students. He believes when students begin to behave as professionals, they will be more highly regarded.

“If you are going to go out and be the light to this world, you have to show them that you are working as hard as they are,” Lu said.

According to Lu, Christians are often more equipped in the job field because they are aware of who they are and who God calls them to be. He said a large part of Christians’ motivation should be their awareness of their God-given free will, which should encourage a desire to use their calling to serve God.

“People who have a really developed sense of how God made them are that much more apt to grasp hold and take effective charge of their lives,” he said.

Lu said an important aspect of becoming prepared for post-graduation while still in school is to avoid becoming a consumer. He encourages students to take ownership of their work and seek out people who can help guide them.

“In every stage of employment, look for people who can mentor you. The right mentors can help activate the latent abilities and potential inside all of us,” Lu said.

Getting employed       

Office of Career and Calling senior career consultant Thomas Eng said in anticipation of job searching, it is important that students become career-minded while they are still in school.       

“When you graduate here, you have the education and hopefully some related experiences that can get you into whatever career that you are interested in. That is super important,” Eng said. “The successful people are actively looking for those experiences that will bolster what they want to do afterwards.

Eng said many students get caught up in committing to any job offered to them after graduation, though the first job available may not be the best fit. He encourages students to take time to decide what they want.

“I would hope [graduates] would get a job after understanding who they are as a person, being able to find a job that fits them right,” he said.

One way Eng suggests students prepare for the workforce is by involving themselves in their desired field while still in school. He said the more internships students have, the more they will be able to learn about themselves and their future career. Eng recommends students to use time at internships wisely, as they can often turn into full time jobs.

“You have to be diligent in building your professional network through your internship, through your job supervisors, people who have walked the steps that you’re about to take. Those are the people you want to stay in contact with through your four years,” Eng said.  

Managing finances

According to a 2013 study by the Institute for College Access and Success, the average Azusa Pacific University student graduates with $29,413 of debt. While this figure may seem overwhelming, there are practical ways to efficiently pay off student loans in a timely manner.

“[Students] don’t know how serious [debt] is and how it will affect their life. They don’t know until they put the numbers in to take it seriously,” School of Business and Management finance professor Daniel Park said.

Park tells students to be intentional in planning for their finances both before and after graduation. He said students should create a financial road map, which includes their anticipated job salary, the amount of debt they will have and how long it will take to pay it off. He also advises students to seek role models who have already paid off their debt or are in the process of doing so.

“Ask your parents or people who have been there. Watch the best wisdom or watch the best advice. I ask students to pick a list of four or five people who are paying off or have already paid off their debt,” Park said.

Park said finances have a long term effect and should be taken seriously in both a practical and spiritual sense.

“Finance matters. It is not just a money matter, it is a spiritual battlefield,” Park said. “It’s taboo, but it should be a priority. It is directly related to spirituality.”

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