Alumni Reveal 'Real World' at Career Summit

Topics include juggling school and a job search, adjusting to post-college life

December 09, 2013

Career Summit: Real World Tips Panel

What will life in the "real world" be like for Knox College graduates? Several Knox alumni shed light on that question when they participated in the Career iMPACT Summit on December 2-3.

The summit was sponsored by Knox's Bastian Family Center for Career and Pre-Professional Development.

Here are some of the questions that students asked, along with answers from alumni.

How much will grade point average affect your career, especially right after college?

"I've never had any employers ask me for my GPA," said Ashley Steinsdoerfer '05, an event specialist at the University of Chicago.

"I'm in education," said Sarah Carlin '10, a teaching assistant at Doodle Bugs! Children's Center in Buffalo, New York. "My GPA was asked for pretty consistently and still is."

Ways to make up for a low GPA, Carlin told students, include telling prospective employers about extracurricular involvements and about "excellent courses that you've taken and that you did well in."

Career Summit 2013How do you balance school work and other Knox activities with the job-search process?

The most important thing isn't necessarily to graduate with a job already lined up, said Graham Troyer-Joy '08, a freelance software engineer, writer, and comedian. He believes it's better to focus on gaining work experience, if possible, and building relationships with people who might be able to help you get a job later.

"I just focused on school, finishing up everything I could," said Rosie Worthen '11, who works in community outreach for the Illinois Student Assistance Commission.

She urged students to take advantages of various resources, including the Career Center.

"Enjoy what you're doing now, and kind of figure out where you want to be, where you want to end up," she added. "Just like when you were deciding about where you wanted to go to school, think about what kind of community you want to be in, not just what kind of job you want to have."

Any advice about establishing credit?

"Don't go into credit card debt. That's the worst kind of debt," Troyer-Joy said.Career Summit 2013: Real World Tips

Carlin encouraged students to charge only "as much as you can pay off" each month.

Any tips on moving to a new place after graduation?

Steinsdoerfer said she lived at her parents' home for a couple of years and probably could have moved out, but living at home allowed her to save some money and buy a car.

Carlin, on the other hand, moved to a new city.

"The thing to remember about relocating, when you're like, ‘Oh, my God, I'm in a totally new place and I don't know anyone,' is there are thousands of other people exactly like you, who are freaking out in the exact same way," she said. "Moving and being on my own was a huge growing process for me."