By Billy Cribley, FCRH '17
As a sophomore at Fordham’s Rose Hill campus, and I think I can say with certainty I’m not the only one who’s terrified, on some level, about life after college. For the most part, at least right now, college is great! We’re given this sense of control over our own schedule, we get to choose what classes we want to take, and we interact with people of our own choosing…. not people we’ve been forced to be friends with since we were in diapers. But: college is going to end eventually too.
The goal is to do what we went to school for, what we’re passionate about, right? The problem with such a fairy tale idea is the fact that the economy sucks. And there’s a surplus—for a good portion of careers at least—of people to positions. Of course there are ways to paint ourselves as an ideal candidate, but if you’re at all like me it’s much easier to just freak out and turn to Netflix as a coping mechanism.
But no good can come from putting ourselves down on the grounds that with such a difficult economy to work with there’s no chance at finding a career to be happy with. I implore you to stay positive. As a favorite character of mine once said, “if you’re honest with yourself about what you want in life, life has a way of getting it to you somehow.”
Anyway, I digress. Now I’m going to share the words of wisdom that Alexander Traum, GSAS ’14, recently imparted unto me.
Alex graduated with his Master’s degree from Fordham last summer, and has since found himself job hunting. And he’s obviously a little stressed out. But here’s the crazy thing; he’s handling it incredibly well. When we first met, one of the first things that he took care to mention was how much he loved being back on Fordham’s campus, and that was a theme he made sure to reiterate to me.
“School, it’s a great opportunity, don’t squash it. You’re privileged. I wake up every day grateful that I got to go here,” were the words Alex said to me right after we introduced ourselves.
He’s absolutely right too. It’s important to remember that as Fordham students we are blessed with one of the best and most effective forms of teaching that the United States has to offer. But the education aspect is only a small part of it, as he would later go on to explain:
“Fordham takes care of their own, the alumni are always looking to help out students and they expect the students to do the same after the graduate. I’ve even heard it called the Fordham Mafia in a manner of speaking.”
Such an ideal thus brings us to the crux of what we want to get out to the Fordham Community. With such a large alumni base, and a well-respected faculty to boot, Alex’s best advice for undergrads and even graduates can be summed up in one word. Network!
“It is a cliché but there is a reason why so many people say it’s not so much what you know anymore as it is who you know. And not only does networking help professionally, but you make friendships too!”
Alex went on and listed all of the different alumni he has met by networking, with some of them even in big name businesses like JP Morgan—which as it turns out, isn’t just a bank! In this respect, I encourage all of you to really look into as many companies as you can and not limit yourself based on preconceived notions of what may or may not be your forte. Also, if you’re feeling stressed about the idea of needing to meet more people, just stop and take a breather.
“It’s normal to be nervous, and I’d think there was something wrong with you if you weren’t. Just do your best to present yourself in the best way you consider possible.”
On top of Alex’s laissez-faire-esque attitude, he explains he can only be so relaxed because of the opportunities he seized while at Fordham. Having done his undergrad at University of Albany, it’s clear that there is very little love lost between Alex and his first alma mater.
“Albany didn’t really have a Career Services, and Fordham’s extensive programs is one of the best aspects of the school,” he explained to me.
Now while it might seem like a certain degree of shameless plugging in terms of how the school is represented, Alex reminded me that representation and appearance is largely what makes or breaks a good applicant. And for all of the resources that Fordham has to offer—and Fordham has a ton—you are essentially the writer of your own destiny. All he can do is offer up some pointers.
“A few things I learned from attending the Diversity Conference while I was in Fordham was the importance of etiquette,” Alex stressed to me. “LinkedIn is essentially a requirement in today’s society, so make one and make sure your resume is clear and concise and your picture is professional. And I’ll never forget what Patricia David, the keynote speaker from JP Morgan Chase at last year’s conference said. ‘People have a tendency to think that diversity is only race, the color of your skin; it’s not though, as it could be hidden instead as would be the case with someone who has a learning disability or a veteran with PTSD. And diversity is more than a person’s makeup; it encompasses their experiences as well as their unique views. A non-diverse workplace would suffer in productivity.’”
Essentially, being different, no matter what that may entail, does not in any way detract from what you or anyone else can bring to the table. In fact, it means that you have something special and unique to give that someone else may not. If you embrace that and encourage others to do the same, then more people are bound to find success.
But above all else, one can be as individually prepared as possible for an interview or for a foray into the career oriented world, and still the one thing you have to keep in mind is the fact that there are people out there who are not interested in being your friend or helping out. But as Alex points out, it’s handling oneself in the most professional way possible in every situation that will lead to success.
“Remember, email stands for eternal, because nothing really gets deleted from the Internet,” my friend warned me.
Essentially, it’s okay to be stressed about your future. The stress indicates that your future is something that you hold important to, which at the very least demonstrates good character. But as long as you are willing to network and put yourself out there to meet and greet as many people as you can and as kindly as you can, success is bound to find you. Going to the Diversity Conference is a great way to start networking, and trust me, it’s also a great way to make friends!