I'm in my final year of college. Last night, I applied for graduation... it's actually starting to feel real now. So, what next? How is RIT preparing me to graduate? Do I have any advice for those just starting out in their college career?
Next semester, I will graduate. Some people will continue on to higher education, maybe get a masters degree. For me, I will be entering the workforce. I have an idea of the type of company I want to work for and will be applying to companies, attending networking and career fairs, and working on my portfolio to get my work out there for companies to see.
What has RIT done to prepare me?
Though my major is one of the few at RIT that does not require any co-ops (cooperative learning experiences) or any internships, they still do a lot to help me get those experiences. Every fall and spring semester, RIT holds a campus-wide career fair. I can usually find a few companies that are looking for New Media Designers, but those career fairs are geared more towards engineering and computing. I have had far better success at Creative Industry Day, a career fair specifically for design-related majors. I actually got my last two internships and co-ops through Creative Industry Day - one in Rochester, NY, at Butler/Till; the other in San Francisco at Odopod.
This semester, I am also taking New Media Career Skills - a class focused on resume and portfolio building. We often have guest speakers come in and share their experience. Some are freelances, others have worked in large companies and small agencies. It's nice to hear their advice on the job search process and what companies are looking for.
My major has also done a lot to prepare me for the real workforce. It was not until I started interning at creative agencies that I realized how our professors had to recreate project structures and deadlines to mimic those of an agency. I felt very comfortable with the process and pace of the workload when I was interning, making me feel more confident in my ability to go straight to work after graduation.
Tips for underclassmen?
You've probably heard it a million times but connect and network with your professors. Your professors are extremely helpful when it comes to expanding your network. Try to plan ahead when it comes to taking classes. You do not want to push all of your electives or immersion classes until the end. You will want your last semester or two to be a little lighter on the coursework. Not only will senior-year classes be a bit tougher (especially with any senior thesis or capstone you may have), but you will want the time to start applying for jobs on the side.
Last, but not least, good luck! Enjoy the time, it really does fly past. Don't stress yourself out so much that you are wishing the time away. Take a step back and look at the big picture. You got this.