Life after SDSU: Take ownership of your future

by Dave Martin

Dustin Michelson, Senior Staff Photographer

Remember that guy Mayer? Well, one of his songs says, “There’s no such thing as the real world.” Maybe that’s kind of true, but compared to high school and college, there’s definitely a “realer” world out there.

Entering the workplace after four cozy years at San Diego State can be scary. But there’s a heap of different ways to prepare for it and do what you want as early in your career as possible.

Regardless, it all begins while in school. Checking in with SDSU Career Services (in Student Services East) will not only help students get ready for life after graduation, but it can also help them find the best path or direction for their career.

For those stuck on what to do after graduation or have trouble finding work post graduation, Career Services has career counselors trained to help steer students’ careers in the right direction. The counselors can help students formulate résumés and prepare for interviews.

“When you come into Career Services, bring your résumé and talk about what you know about yourself and who you want to be,” SDSU Career Services Director James Tarbox said. “We can do an assessment and help them understand what their options are in San Diego and what their options are through Career Services.”

One way to gain invaluable experience and impress employers is by volunteering.

Jonathan Gilben, the co-founder of a volunteer tourism organization called GoEco, said students can benefit from volunteer programs in various ways.

“First of all, it’s a very personal experience,” Gilben said. “Secondly, you contribute back to the community and the environment you work with and thirdly, people who do these programs gain very valuable work experience for employment in the future.”

“Being able to say you put in time and that you volunteered with an organization that you were dedicated to for a period of time is something that employers look for,” Executive Director of Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms Sarah Potenza said.

It’s possible the job you want doesn’t exist. Sometimes the positions you’ll fit best in are ones you create yourself, which is what SDSU alumni Jonathan Zaidman did.

After graduating in 2007, Zaidman founded The 1:1 Movement, an organization that focuses on educating and empowering people and businesses to make positive sustainable choices for themselves, their communities, organizations and the environment.

“The most interesting and empowering thing about starting your own organization is accountability,” Zaidman said.

However, accountability isn’t the only asset attributed to starting a business.

“I know that the successes of this organization are going to rely directly upon how well I do my job,” he said. “Not only does that motivate me to work harder, but I feel it’s something a lot of people in their workplace are lacking. When you start your own organization, it’s up to you to make what you want happen.”

Zaidman also said a huge part of success comes from utilizing resources such as friends, coworkers, professors and people in the industry. This is something Greg Block, an SDSU alumni and the SDSU Director of Media Relations and New Media, can relate to.

“My last year (at SDSU), I started doing informational interviews and talking to my mentor, a professor, about the job market and what I should be doing,” Block said.

Block said just being a graduate from SDSU is a plus in itself.

“In San Diego we have so many SDSU alumni,” Block said. “People are proud they went here. They’re always willing to talk to you and, if nothing else, give you an informational interview. This way you get your name out there.”

Be proactive and take ownership of your future now. If you do, your name will be out there even before you are, which will make life after college a great deal easier to handle.

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