Conscientious and savvy university students can prepare for a
productive and fulfilling life after graduation — both
professionally and personally — if they follow some basic
guidelines that use their time in classes and out-of-the-classroom
experiences to build a foundation for their future.
“A successful career and a life of well-being is not
something you think about after you get your diploma,” says
Arlene Kaukus, UB director of career services. “These are
life goals and aspirations you start building from the moment you
begin as a first-year student on campus. From the very beginning,
you are creating a foundation of solid, meaningful relationships
and lifelong habits that will contribute to your success in
“And you can significantly help your chances of reaching
these goals and being the person you want to be if you recognize
your life is an ongoing process,” she says.
With this in mind, Kaukus and her career services staff offer
some useful guidelines to help students make the most of their
college experience and gather essential skills — skills
designed to pay off when they leave college and walk into what is
oftentimes called “the real world.”
- Immerse yourself. Preparing yourself for an amazing life
requires that you immerse yourself in learning in and outside of
the classroom. Seize the opportunity to develop your leadership
skills by volunteering for a club or organization and step up to
the plate in a leadership role. The best way to develop and hone
your skills is by “doing.” Be inquisitive, explore and
keep expanding your boundaries. Engage yourself in new activities
or new groups that are outside your normal realm. Expanding these
boundaries helps to expand your thinking and your awareness.
- Start early. Career services encourages students at UB to be
intentional in choosing out-of-classroom learning opportunities
throughout their college experience. Recognize you must start
early. Find an area in your first year where you can begin to
engage in learning opportunities. Maybe it’s a part-time job
on campus or join a student club. Don’t fall into the trap of
believing that you begin to prepare only as you approach
- Build experiences over four years. Each opportunity and
experience you engage in enables you to learn about yourself,
explore your options and develop skills to prepare yourself for
success after graduation. Every experience is an opportunity to
hone your skills and build competencies.
- Make connections. Building lasting relationships with peers,
faculty and staff, alumni and mentors can open doors to
opportunities you didn’t even know existed. Properly managed,
each connection you make is a doorway to opportunity.
- Use all resources available on campus. No discussion of
campus resources would be complete without emphasizing the Career
Office. Career Services at UB is a tremendous resource. In
addition, many universities and colleges have offices that organize
student clubs on campus, student governments, volunteer
opportunities, mentoring opportunities and many others. Find out
where those resources are on your campus and use them.
- Build a plan. Make your plan happen, but remember to be
flexible as life changes. Remember that college is a time of
exploration and learning. The learning can be about yourself,
yourself in the world and the world itself. It is only by
experiencing these things that you can truly know the best fit for
you. Students should take the time to develop a plan. But remember
that adhering to a plan that does not align with who you are or
what you are learning about yourself can be disconcerting. Reach
out to people and resources you admire and who know you. Ask them
to help you develop and refine your plan as you move through.
Change is constant and inevitable. Recognizing that building a life
plan requires continual adjustments will serve you well in life.
Building the capacity to be resilient and nimble will make you
better able to address and grow from the changes that are before
you. It ultimately will result in a life of well-being.