Life After Graduation

Jennifer Hansen & Coleen Holliday

What is life like after college? Should I consider graduate school? How do I go about the job search process? These are just a few of the important questions that surface as students move toward graduation.

Indeed, the college-to-career transition can bring up a range of emotional reactions: excitement, nervousness, confidence, fear, hope, and even relief. Every graduate remembers going through this often nerve-wracking time, and the paths ultimately chosen are unique and special for each individual. Nonetheless, there are common themes and experiences that can be helpful to hear about from people who have gone through similar transitions. The SALT Center Alumni Forum provided just the outlet to remind our students that, although each graduate takes their own path, they certainly aren’t alone.

The 2017 SALT Center Alumni Forum featured seven UA and SALT Center alumni from across the country who returned to campus for an afternoon of networking with approximately 30 student attendees. The alumni participants were eager to share their knowledge in various fields, including engineering, retail, finance, marketing, hospitality, and management.

The day kicked off with an Alumni Panel. Students were given the opportunity to submit questions in advance, and those questions were presented to the panel by two moderators. The panelists openly discussed topics ranging from how they found their first job after college to resources that they have used to manage their learning difference in the workplace. Later, open questions were received from the audience, allowing students to seek input on additional topics. The candid and honest responses from the alumni participants were well-received. Graduate Assistant Coleen Holliday remarked,

“I really enjoyed listening to the panel talk about their experiences. I feel like it gave the audience a good introduction to their different journeys.”

2017 Alumni Forum Participants, from left: Lauren Trattner, Mickey Haas, Armando Membrila, Shaun Brown, Morgan Barrick, Todd Hartley. Not pictured: Emily Pendleton

2017 Alumni Forum Participants, from left: Lauren Trattner, Mickey Haas, Armando Membrila, Shaun Brown, Morgan Barrick, Todd Hartley. Not pictured: Emily Pendleton

While the panel event offered students a broad impression of the alumni participants’ journeys from college to the workplace, the small-group sessions that followed allowed them to elaborate. After breaking out into smaller groups, students asked more in-depth questions about the alumni participants’ challenges and accomplishments in the workplace. Additionally, our expanded space made these sessions comfortable and collaborative as each small group was housed in a different location throughout the building.

Following the small-group sessions, lunch was served, which ushered in the final session of the day: a networking opportunity in the student lounge. At the networking event, each alumnus was stationed at a private table. Students visited these stations at their own pace and chatted one-on-one with the alumni of their choice. Students also collected handouts with useful tips provided by each alumnus at their station. After the event was over, we were pleased to learn that 100% of students surveyed would recommend that their peers attend the Alumni Forum in the future, and 83% felt more confident about life after college.

We are grateful to our Alumni Board, which helped make this event such a success. Their willingness to share their personal triumphs and challenges empowered our students and eased many concerns they often feel about life beyond campus. As Senior psychology major Kit Heyser put it,

“The Alumni Forum was very informative and helpful. I learned a lot, but my biggest take away from the day was all the encouraging advice given about the interview process and that my disability does not limit me!”

Thank you to the Alumni Board

 Preparation for the 2017 SALT Center Alumni Forum was completed with the help of the SALT Center Alumni Board, an energetic group of 15 alumni volunteers. Through discussion and collaboration, our Alumni Board developed the vision for an event where students could ask questions and get answers they may not find anywhere else — specifically, how to manage a learning difference in the workplace. We appreciate the Alumni Board’s contributions to making our First Annual SALT Center Alumni Forum a success!

2016-2017 SALT Center Alumni Board

Morgan Barrick

Shaun Brown

Ramon Gaanderse

Morgan Marchetti

JR Marriott

Armando Membrila

Emily Pendleton

Lauren Trattner

Darby Mistak

Melvin Cooper

Mickey Haas

Todd Hartley

Christopher Leet

Carolynn Roesser

Rudy Molina, Jr.