Wise words from UAA alumni

Graduating means a lot of things. It’s an end of one chapter of life and the start of another. Students spend years to reach this point, so what does one do after graduation? There is no clear cut answer, and no one person has the same path. Each person with an occupation and a degree has been in each graduate’s shoes, in a cap and gown and ready to take on their next venture. No one piece of advice will be the key to success, but it sure can help lead some in the right direction. Years after graduation, these UAA alumni are now in their respective career fields. With the education they learned in college, they have become who they are today. The route after graduation isn’t always an easy one but with help of these wise words, it can potentially make it smoother.

Tristan Kim graduated from UAA with a Master of Science in project management and now is a business continuity analyst at Alaska USA. When he graduated, he knew that he was far from being done.

“Don’t expect your diploma to do everything. You still have to work hard to earn and expand your knowledge and skills,” Kim said.

Some people believe once a diploma is earned, jobs start lining up and it’s an easy road from there on. For most cases, that isn’t the reality. Striving to work hard even after receiving his diploma is what Kim believes got him where he is today.

How soon one should their journey start is a big question many people face. Each career path is different so every decision depends on the person and their circumstance.

Rebekah Son believes graduates should waste no time. She received her bachelor’s degree in education from UAA and is now a fourth and fifth-grade teacher at Orion Elementary School.

“You can have some time to yourself after graduating, but don’t let yourself have too much time. Whatever field of work you are in, you have to keep learning and keep getting better. You have to get as much experience you can in your field of work. Many people say to take years off to play because you won’t have time after you work but if you work early and get a good job and be successful within that job, you’ll be able to play even harder later,” Son said.

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On the other hand, some believe in taking time for yourself before diving into your career. Daniel Heo graduated from UAA with a degree in natural sciences and is now a pharmacist at Sam’s Club.

“Do as much as you can before you start working. New activities, traveling, hanging out and meeting new people, because once you start working, that’s all you are going to be primarily doing for 30-40 years of your life. Although your job will be important, find other hobbies, passions and goals in your life. You will need these to continue enriching and fulfilling your life because by the time you have a job, most of your life’s goals are accomplished,” Heo said.

Big things are ahead for each graduate and these three UAA alumni know firsthand that it isn’t always easy. At times, they were nervous and anxious about their paths and were discouraged along the way. With the help of their peers and loved ones, they endured through the hard times. Just because they are in their desired careers they know their journey isn’t over. Life after landing their dream job still requires hard work and dedication.

The UAA Alumni Relations Center is nestled in between the Social Sciences Building and the Consortium Library. Staffed by the UAA Alumni Association, the center serves to keep alumni connected together in and out of Alaska. Photo credit: Jay Guzman