Preparing for the ‘real world’: Seniors and alumni reflect on graduation

Photo courtesy of Flyer News.

Carolyn Kroupa | Contributing Writer

Everything is about to change for seniors as graduation approaches in this spring. They are tasked with the responsibility of making major life choices such as deciding what they want to do next. Making plans and accepting this change is easier for some than others.

There are a multitude of emotions associated with moving on from college life at UD and transitioning into the “real world.” Members of the class of 2022 shared a variety of paths they are considering after graduation. Looking at a recent graduate’s experience offers insights for how to navigate this journey. Additionally, the alumni relations and engagement office provides resources for students during their time on- and off-campus.

Elizabeth Wourms, a senior management information systems major from Middletown, Ohio, accepted a job offer at Accenture, an information technology company, where she will be working as a business and integration arch analyst.

The university publishes data about the first destinations of graduating students every academic year, which can be found here.

“I am most excited to make money and have a stable income,” Wourms said. “I feel prepared because I’m moving to Cincinnati, which is 45 minutes from my parents, and I have them as a security if I ever need anything. However, I’m nervous about the workload because I’ll have to learn new systems that I have no experience with.”

In addition to the worries that accompany starting a new job, Wourms is anxious about leaving the comfort of college.

“When it comes to my social life, I’m not prepared to leave the environment at UD and my friends,” she said. “College is different from the ‘real world,’ and I think it will be a challenge for me to adapt.”

Grace Cannon, a human rights major with minors in French and political science from Cleveland, shares similar worries.

“I feel 50% prepared, but I don’t think even if I learned every skill possible, I’d feel prepared to begin post-grad life,” Cannon said. “Leaving school is a complete change, and it’s scary.”

Cannon has yet to secure plans after graduation but hopes to enter the Peace Corps. She aspires to work abroad, which creates unique opportunities and challenges for her.

“I am nervous about the thought of being on my own and having such a physical distance from my support system, but I have to have faith in myself,” Cannon said.

Having faith is something Marie Reddy had to have a lot of as a 2020 graduate. She was forced to transition from college to the professional world during the height of the pandemic.

“I struggled finding closure graduating virtually and saying goodbye to my friends over the screen,” Reddy said.

Majoring in music therapy, she completed a music therapy internship with a hospice provider in Kansas City, Missouri, the summer after graduating. She works part-time at a nursing facility and part-time providing music therapy services for adults and children with disabilities.

“My degree program did an exceptional job equipping me with the skills and knowledge necessary to work with a wide variety of clientele,” Reddy said. “I also believe UD taught me to rely on my faith and the community around me to keep the many dimensions of my life in balance.”

The alumni relations and engagement office on campus serves students and alumni in navigating the transition. Carly Hall, assistant director of volunteer management, focuses on engagement and philanthropy on campus. Jonina Kelley, alumni engagement officer, is involved with 35 communities across the country holding events to connect alumni.

“Everyone at UD has a great sense of community, and that can be a huge change going out into a new environment,” Kelley said. “Some places are not as close as Dayton.”

This is where UD alumni communities come in. Events are held to recreate the community on campus, such as Dayton basketball watch parties and networking opportunities. There also are leadership and volunteer opportunities.

“The UD community extends across the country,” Kelley said. “When everyone comes together, there is comradery and excitement.”

The university provides resources via a graduation portal on Porches and Flyer Connection which offers ways to stay connected.

“Use alumni as a resource,” Kelley said. “Alumni want more than anything to help current students and recent grads. Don’t be afraid to reach out.”

The UD experience is special in unique ways for every Flyer. It can be daunting to move on to the next chapter of life. While change is inevitable, the Dayton community is forever.

“We have a really special community on campus, and that doesn’t end when you graduate,” Hall said.

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