year’s graduates faced a less auspicious job market than did those
who left us a couple years ago. A dip in the national economy plus
the effects of September 11 meant that fewer SU seniors had solid
job offers by the time Commencement 2002 arrived. While the economy
is turning around now, new college graduates from SU and elsewhere
have to work harder at finding employment in their fields of study
than in previous years.
I offer our graduates the following advice, which I believe is useful
to just about anyone who’s actively seeking work:
Get Used to Uncertainty—Ups and downs in the economy and in life
in general are to be expected. Reality therapists and a host of
other respected experts tell us it is our attitude toward events,
more than the events themselves, that is important. Good things
do happen as a result of hard work, but not every time. Still, an
accepting attitude is the key to moving on in the face of disappointment.
Continue Learning—Earning a degree is only the beginning. People
who upgrade their skills continuously are ahead of the game throughout
their lives. Continuing to learn may or may not mean acquiring additional
degrees, but it does mean being open to change and learning to adapt
Become More Resilient—Some people have an innate capacity to overcome
tremendous odds and survive major catastrophes. But I believe that
resilience is a skill that can be learned. It requires developing
flexibility, talking oneself out of negative thinking, believing
in something greater than oneself, and having at least one other
person with whom to share thoughts and perceptions.
Work at Job-Seeking—People who find meaningful work in their field
of study are those who treat the job hunt like a job itself. They
rise early, dress as if they are going to work, and put in a 10-hour
day making calls, sending out resumes, searching the Internet, going
to conferences, and so on. They accept interviews for jobs they
might well refuse if offered, just for the experience of talking
about themselves and their plans for the future.
Get a Life—Finally, living only to work is not a good idea. That
path leads to burnout and too much stress. It’s important to work
hard by making a commitment to a career, but it’s equally important
to develop solid relationships and set aside time for rest, relaxation,
exercise, and continuous learning.
I am pleased to report that our students are resilient, are willing
to roll with the punches, and have a thirst for knowledge in abundance.
This is a tribute to their own efforts and to the faculty and staff
who mentored them. Just like the thousands of graduates who preceded
them, the members of the Class of 2002 are willing and able to take
on whatever comes their way.
Kenneth A. Shaw