Life After Graduation: The Six Month Mark
Written by: Jacob Wilkowsky
Driving the back roads home, trees I pass by look noticeably bare. Late rays of the evening illuminate the leave-cluttered road ahead and the sound of Taylor Swift’s hit single, “Shake it Off”, plays softly on the radio. A stark contrast from the muted golds, burnt oranges, and crimson reds witnessed just two weeks prior, one cannot escape the beauty of the changing seasons.
Autumn, the changing of the seasons, and Taylor Swift have long been an inspiration to transcendental thinkers and teen girls alike. In this moment of reflection I enjoyed a similar tranquility. Life’s up and downs, twist and turns, all seemed to come into perspective, and the realization that November 23rd, 2014 marked six months since my graduation from the University of Maryland suddenly dawned on me.
It has been a whirlwind of a journey these past six months for me personally, but I wanted to reach out to fellow alumni of Cohort 19 and see how the past six months has been for them. So, fueled by the beautiful scenery and T-Swift’s appeal that I “shake it off”, I decided to pick up the phone and make some calls…
“Since graduating what is the most important thing you have learned in the past six months?”
(San Francisco, California)
Since graduating, the most import lesson I have learned is the true value of work life balance. Most of us in QUEST are hard workers and over achievers. We strive to produce top quality work with on point attention to detail. However, in college there are assignments with definitive ends and grades that go along with them. You can spend a couple of all nighters or work on the weekends to catch / finish up with an assignment and be okay. In the working world the work will always be there, regardless of how many all nighters you pull. Even if I work through the next two weekends there is always more to do. Learning that it is okay to detach from work every once in a while and enjoy other aspects of post grad life has allowed me to maintain balance, meet new people, and enjoy a ton of awesome new experiences.
(College Park, MD)
I learned that I really like learning–that is to say, when you take away the hours spent on homework and studying for exams, you end up with a lot of time to teach yourself new things.
(New York City, New York)
The most important thing I’ve learned in the past six months since graduating is the lesson of being okay with not knowing. Since I’ve graduated, I’ve traveled abroad, moved to New York City, and started a new full-time job. The common thread across all of those key events for me was the discomforting feeling of not really knowing what I was doing or what to expect. It was (and is!) definitely stressful at times, but I’ve learned to have faith that after a while we’ll all get the hang of it and things always work themselves out! Just keep a positive attitude, stay curious, and ask questions. Oh, and they weren’t kidding about the networking thing…
“Since graduating what has been your greatest accomplishment?”
Passing the CPA exam!
“What has been your most exciting experience since graduating?”
Excitement cannot begin to describe the thrill I got from my travels to Asia and Europe after school. One of the best decisions I made was delaying my start date to October and planning two trips that I will never forget. The first was to Thailand and Vietnam. We back packed through 15 cities, scootered over 300 miles, jumped from 40+ ft cliffs, ate who knows what (blood cake?), mountain biked down a 3 hour professional course (and almost died several times), saw the most beautiful beaches of my life, and much more while spending very little money. Prague and Budapest were incredible as well. So all I can say is traveling is a must after school. Don’t worry, your job will be waiting for you for the rest of your life when you get back.
There have been a number of big changes and exciting occurrences that have taken place since graduation, but the biggest one for me has been getting engaged and travelling in Iran with my fiancé.
Using the ‘eager, compelling, invigorating’ context of the word, my post-grad trip to Michigan to visit family the week before I started work was indeed the most exciting. My farmer great grandfather was turning 100 years of age, and I was surrounded by my family and an all encompassing atmosphere of joy. Being able to share the fact that I was a bonafide graduate and employed engineer with important people in my life gave me a sense of pride and thankfulness – not to mention the excitement I currently feel to do my job justice and apply the things I have learned, from school and from my family.
(San Francisco, California)
My most exciting experience since graduating has been backpacking across Colombia with my girlfriend!