Today, Oct. 16 at 6:00 PM, SMU’s Public Relations Students Society of America will host a panel of recent graduates sharing everything about their experience in the working world. The panel includes Gracie Singer, TDC Agency, Amanda Rule, 7-Eleven, Kasey Ruth, Dallas Gold and Silver Exchange, and Alex Twiss, RLG Consulting engineers. We caught a couple of the returning grads and asked them about life after graduation.

What did you learn after graduation you wish you knew before?

Kasey: After graduation I learned that you are not tied to the first job you take. I think as seniors we all put so much pressure [on ourselves] to find that PERFECT job. And while we are searching for that perfect job, that normally does not exist until years after graduation, we miss out on taking other opportunities that could lead us to that “perfect” job

Gracie: I wish someone would have told me how much my life was going to change. My day to day looked and felt completely different all of the sudden. I wish someone would have told me that I was about to have less time for myself than ever before.

Did your time at SMU prepare you for working in the real world?

Kasey: I can’t thank SMU enough for making me feel prepared and confident for working in the real world. From the lectures, interactions with professors, and opportunities SMU provides each student who graduates from SMU is already a step ahead in the work world.

Gracie: In some ways yes and in some ways no. Our education system does a horrible job for standard “adult” knowledge. I think I called my dad more times in my first six months out of college than I did in all four years of school because I constantly needed him to teach me how to do something. I felt pretty helpless, and as an independent person this was frustrating. In terms of my professional career I would say there were really 3-4 class I truly apply in my day-to-day work. While those 3-4 are invaluable, I do wish the curriculum would have prepared me better across the board. I’ve taught myself how to do about 85% of my job through Google, blog posts, podcasts, former teachers and mentors.

What is the biggest adjustment you had to make transitioning from SMU to the workforce?

Kasey: The biggest adjustment I have had to make is accepting that you are exhausted after a long day of work and that it is now socially acceptable in the working world to be in bed by 9:00.

Gracie: The difficulty of post-grad was in-part intensified because it was such a foreign feeling to me; I never had a hard time with transition or change. I don’t say this to scare any of you, but I wish someone would have prepared me for the 180 my life was about to take me on. To start, it’s a much lonelier time. I went from living in a communal space to an apartment with one person I didn’t know that well at the beginning. Not to mention most of my friends moved to New York or other cities while I stayed in Dallas. In terms of the working world, I realized you have to build your “work muscles.” I wasn’t used to working straight from 7am -5pm…You take for granted how much time you have in college. I definitely did.

What is one tip you have for students preparing to head into the workforce?

Kasey: Do not put so much pressure on yourself! Take a job, and if you realize you don’t like it, that’s OKAY! You are not TIED DOWN! Apply to other jobs, learn more about yourself, network network network. Your first job will tell you a lot: it will let you learn what you like and don’t like, it will help you find even more of your strengths and weaknesses, and will be the stepping stone of getting you to the career you were made for. 

Gracie: You don’t have to have it all figured out. If you do then you’re like .01% of every student who has ever graduated from SMU. I think I freaked out my senior year and took the highest paying job offer I got because I felt like I needed security walking into graduation. I hated that job, and I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I wish I had been more patient and explored more options, more cities, more industries, etc. To be honest, I still don’t have it figured out. There are things I love about my job now, but I really still don’t know what I want to do. Find a place you will learn something and be content with for now, and then opportunities will come from there.

To hear more from these recent graduates, come to the PRSSA “Graduates Share All” event on October 16th at 6 p.m. in Huhes-Trigg Portico BCD.