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Feature

UAlbany '03 graduates reveal their
Adventures in Real Life

Last year just before Commencement we profiled five UAlbany seniors. They talked about their undergraduate experiences and their hopes and plans for the future. Twelve months later, curiosity got the better of us, so we contacted them to see how they were doing. Here are their accounts as to what life is like in the ďreal world.Ē 

Chad Waxman Peter Brusoe Stephanie Coon Rich Prou Allison Shectman
Chad Waxman Peter Brusoe Stephanie Coon Rich Prou Allison Shectman

Chad WaxmanChad Waxman continued his graduate education at UAlbany>>

What has the last year been like for you in terms of job hunting or graduate school?

My graduate program in School Counseling has been a real eye opening experience. I decided to stay at the University at Albany for graduate school because of how much I enjoyed my undergraduate experience.

For the last year I have been involved in many things. I got an assistantship with the Middle Earth Peer Assistance program as the Outreach Coordinator. My responsibilities are to instruct the outreach class and outreach training class, do outreach activities, and work on raising money for the Dr. Kimberly E. Esterman Scholarship Fund. I also took the job as the assistant to the Greek Affairs Coordinator and Inter Fraternity Council Advisor.

Currently I am at Albany High School for my practicum and I am assisting in the guidance office. I love the real world experience that I am getting.

Are you happy with where you are? What's the best and worst thing that's happened to you this last year?

Yes, I knew what I wanted to do and didnít have any doubts that I would be where I am today. I am very happy being in this program and working. I have some great relationships with my fellow classmates and coworkers as well as my bosses. Itís a lot of work but itís worth it.

The best thing that has happened to me this year is that I have been able to go to a few conferences. I went to the Counseling Center Conference in June at Colgate, Bacchus and Gamma (peer educator) Conference in Washington, D.C., in November, and The Northeast Greek Leadership Conference in Philadelphia in February. Through these conferences I have made some great contacts and have learned many great new things.

The worst thing is my lack of free time. Itís a lot different being in graduate school and working.

Describe your living situation. What do you do outside of work or school?

I am living by myself in a very nice apartment about a mile from campus. At first I did not like living alone, but now I love it! It is very quiet and easy for me to get my work done.

Outside of school, I like to travel when I can, work out, listen to music, and watch Law and Order. When I have more free time I enjoy playing basketball, working out more, and hanging out with friends.

Last year you said that UAlbany had prepared you for life after graduation. Do you still feel that way?

Yes, I feel very satisfied with the education I received at UAlbany. Not only did I have some great professors who taught me well but I had the opportunity to serve our campus community. UAlbany is a great place to get involved and there are many activities that you can pursue.

What advice would you give to this year's seniors as they contemplate life after graduation?

Donít leave! Just kidding, college is a great four years of learning and having fun. Even though sometimes I think about the good times I had, I am really doing what I want to do. It is very exciting to move up in the world and the opportunity out there is great for individuals who want it badly enough. My advice is to follow your dreams. It is never too late to do something that you love. If you find it hard out there in the real world or in graduate school, take a step back, a deep breath, and focus on doing what satisfies you. Good luck to you all especially my TKE brothers who are graduating.


Peter Brusoe in Empire CommonsPeter Brusoe will finish his Masterís degree at UAlbany this summer before heading off to Washington, D.C., for the next phase of his academic career >>

What has the last year been like for you in terms of job hunting or graduate school?

Graduate School has been one of the most interesting experiences in my life. It has been a virtual smorgasbord of ideas, books, and papers. The best way to compare it is, going from high school soccer to professional soccer; youíre used to the motions, you know how the game is played, but the quality of people on your team has increased, as has your endurance.

This past year I have had a great time studying and learning about the founding of the American National Government. In one course we were able to read the debates of the Constitutional Convention, and argue the debates that founded this nation. Iím taking a fantastic course on interest groups with Dr. Jensen, that encompasses diverse academic interests, ranging from theory, to race, to gender, to elections. I also take a wonderful course on American Political theory with Dr. Miroff, where great names like Jefferson, Calhoun, Walt Whitman, and even Thoreau all grace our syllabus. I am going to complete my Master's Degree this summer, and then Iím off to American University. My internship last year really planted the Washington, D.C., ďbug.Ē

Are you happy with where you are? What's the best and worst thing that's happened to you this last year?

I think probably the greatest thing that happened to me this past year has been the opportunity to teach.

Itís hard to say what has been the worst thing that has happened to me. I guess having one of my best friends head out to California for his graduate work Ė itís expensive to stay in touch.

Describe your living situation. What do you do outside of work or school?

I live at Empire Commons, so I get to cook a lot of my own meals. I find that I am eating less now that I have to cook on my own, though I have thrown a few nice dinner parties. I am also the youngest person in my apartment (21).

Outside of work and school, this past year, I have had the pleasure of working with DeMolay International as a member of their board of directors. Hence, I travel a lot. I am headed out to Wyoming in a few weeks for them, and have taken trips to Washington DC, St. Louis, and other parts of the country. When I am not working, I do a lot of walking, reading, going on a few dates here and there.

Last year you said that UAlbany had prepared you for life after graduation. Do you still feel that way?

I still feel that UAlbany helped prepare me for life after graduation. I am reminded of the words of Walt Whitman in ďSong of the Open RoadĒ

ďNow I reexamine philosophies and religions,
They may prove well in lecture-rooms, yet not prove at all under the spacious clouds and along the landscape and flowing currents.Ē

I have been able to take what I learned in the classroom and test it in real life and it has worked out very well for me. The skills I learned, the people I have met, and the experiences I had still shape how and why I do certain things. I also feel that when I am talking to my fellow graduate students that my training as a UAlbany undergraduate prepared me well for the level of discourse.

What advice would you give to this year's seniors as they contemplate life after graduation?

1) Find that thing that you enjoy the most as an undergraduate, and find a way to get paid for it. In my case, I love to read and learn, so doing graduate school made sense. Use the tools and skills that you have learned.

2) Join the Alumni Association. Not only do you get a really neat paperweight, but the Association provides you with valuable connections, great resources, and some nice discounts on car rentals.

3) Stay in touch with your friends. My friend Dan and I still stay in touch and even though we are a continent apart, and in two separate fields (Math and Political Science) we still have a common experience that was carved out by meeting in the halls of Indian Quadrangle.

4) When graduation comes, make sure your parents buy good batteries for the camera so you actually have photos of the event.

5) Stay in touch with your professors. They do care about you, and love to hear what you are doing.


Stephanie Coon at Edinburgh Castle, ScotlandStephanie Coon completed UAlbany's combined BA/MA in Public Administration & Policy and last fall she went to Oxford to pursue her doctorate. Here's what she's been up to>>

What has the last year been like for you in terms of job hunting or graduate school?

This past year my life took a number of twists and turns. I left for Oxford in the fall to begin my doctorate, and it did not take me long to realize that a life devoted to academia was not right for me. I discovered I wanted to make my research useful to the ďreal world,Ē or get into the ďreal worldĒ myself. I decided to do both.

I attended some job fairs at Oxford and instantly fell in love with a career in strategy consulting. After spending months working on resumes, and preparing for interviews, I got a job offer from my first choice firm, McKinsey and Company. I will start there in the fall.

At the time I began job hunting, I also opted to do a masterís degree and began exploring opportunities to do research for my dissertation that could really make an impact. I was introduced to some people working at UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) and am now working with them to research Public Private Partnerships. Not only will the research that I complete be put to use at UNESCO, but I get to travel to Paris to do my field work!

Are you happy with where you are? What's the best and worst thing that's happened to you this last year?

I expected to be at Oxford, but I certainly did not expect I would be starting a new job in the "real world" this fall. Overall, I am very happy with where I am now, but it was really difficult for me to admit to myself that I did not want to be in academia. I also realized that there was a world of other opportunities out there for me because of all the experiences I had at UAlbany; that realization, paired with figuring out what I want to do with my life, at least for now, was the best thing that happened to me since leaving UAlbany.

Describe your living situation. What do you do outside of work or school?

I really lucked out finding an old, amazing room right in the center of Oxford. I share the apartment with two other girls, another American and a Russian. Outside of school, I've had a lot of time to explore the City of Oxford and the rest of the UK. In Oxford, I go to concerts, wander the historic streets and visit the occasional pub. I have been traveling all over England, Wales and Scotland and have several trips planned for the spring to Paris, Prague, Venice, and perhaps a few other hot spots.

Last year you said that UAlbany had prepared you for life after graduation. Do you still feel that way?

UAlbany prepared me in two really big ways. First, the opportunities for internships and leadership positions I had at UAlbany gave me a real competitive advantage when I was applying for jobs; I had several interviewers comment on how impressed they were with everything that I had done while at UAlbany. Second, I was more than prepared for graduate school at Oxford. Because of my undergraduate experience, I was not only completely comfortable academically, but actually ahead of much of the graduate level course work.

What advice would you give to this year's seniors as they contemplate life after graduation?

To this year's graduating seniors I have several valuable pieces of advice that I wished I had listened to when people offered it to me.

First, and most importantly, it is ok not to have the rest of your life planned out. Enjoy this stage of your life and be ready to seize opportunities as they come to you. Remember, you canít plan for everything and sometimes the best things are those that are unplanned.

Second, know it is okay to stray from your path -- you can change your mind. Your experiences at UAlbany have opened up a world of opportunities for you, so if one decision doesnít turn out to be right for you, do not be afraid to try another!

Third, TRAVEL, TRAVEL, TRAVEL! There is so much of the world to see, and there is no better time than now to do it. (Especially with all the student/youth travel discounts you can get in Europe.)


Rich ProuAfter graduation, Rich Prou accepted a full time position with an insurance company in New York City>>

What has the last year been like for you in terms of job hunting or graduate school?

The job market was tough when I graduated, but now it seems like employers are hiring more since the market has turned. Work takes up most of my time now. Other than work, I take advantage of the NYC nightlife and other extracurricular activities.

Are you happy with where you are? Whatís the best and worst thing thatís happened to you this last year?

Iím happy with my current situation. People at my job are close to my age, so we all understand what we are going through. All the recent grads here missed college when we first started. One big thing has been that there are no snow days in the real-world. As long as mass transportation is running, you have to be at work.

Describe your living situation. What do you do outside of work or school?

I currently live in an apartment that is close to relatives. Living on my own wasnít a problem while I was on campus. The only thing I had to do was clean was my room. Now I have to clean the whole place and cook for myself (not fun). If you plan to work in NYC, you should get ready for a 1-2 hr commute during rush hour. My day starts at 6 a.m. and I usually get home around 6:30 p.m. After that, if Iím not exhausted, Iíll go to the gym, hang out with some friends, or just watch TV. On the weekends I sleep in late, run the errands I could not do during the week, and go out to some event -- never really know exactly what, because these is a lot to do. Time goes even faster now that Iím working than it did when I was in school.

Last year you said that UAlbany had prepared you for life after graduation. Do you still feel that way?

Yes, I still believe that UAlbany prepared me for life after graduation. I use several of the skills that I learned in class as well as from UAlbany campus life. For example, having to multi-task several assignments is key to survival in the working world. I also gained a lot of experience through my involvement in the student association and it has improved my ability to network with people of different backgrounds and deal with the politics of the working world. Itís everywhere and the more exposure you have to it, the better.

What advice would you give to this yearís seniors as they contemplate life after graduation?

DONíT LEAVE!!!!ÖJust kidding. I would tell seniors just to take everything in stride. Itís a bit of a shock when August comes around and youíre not preparing to go back to campus. It takes a little while to adjust and you will find yourself missing UAlbany. As with everything, this new life you will have is going to take some getting used to. Your friends that you grew close to will not be as close to you anymore. Keep in touch with the strong network you built with students and your professors while you were on campus because it will only be beneficial to you later.


Allison ShectmanAllison Shectman traveled 3,000 miles in search of a new life in California Ė away from school, family and New York>>

What has the last year been like for you in terms of job hunting or graduate school?

Well, within the next five years I know that I would like to go back to school for my M.B.A., but I decided I needed to get some experience working before I headed back to classes. I am actively hunting for the perfect opportunity, but in the meantime I have gained a lot of experience working at different temp assignments. I have worked for several companies -- from a local beer distributing company to a wind turbine energy company. I was hoping to break into the public relations field, but I have not succeeded. I'll keep trying. I refuse to settle for less than what I want to be doing.

Are you happy with where you are? What's the best and worst thing that's happened to you this last year?

I am very happy that I am on my own. It's been a really rough time to graduate, but I'm getting by. Moving 3,000 miles away was pretty tough, especially for my family, but I wouldn't do it any differently if I had to do it again.

Describe your living situation. What do you do outside of work or school?

A few months after graduation, I packed up and moved to Southern California with my longtime boyfriend, whom I met at UAlbany. Living on my own has been rewarding, but it's costly. It would be easier living with my parents, but it's worth it to me. Out here I also found my true (nonprofit) calling. I volunteer at the Exotic Feline Breeding Compound, and get to work with tigers, jaguars, leopards, cougars, ocelots, and many more. Last week I held a baby ocelot in my arms. It was incredible.

Last year you said that UAlbany had prepared you for life after graduation. Do you still feel that way?

I definitely feel that UAlbany prepared me for life. I have an amazing resume from my experiences during college, and I am just waiting for the right opportunity. There were a few times in the past year that I wished I was still an undergrad.

What advice would you give to this year's seniors as they contemplate life after graduation?

Don't let anyone pressure you into something you don't want to be doing, especially career-wise. Even though I don't have my career set into motion, I am glad that I'm not in a miserable job that I hate.

 

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