12 MU Fashion Grads on How to Succeed Post-Graduation

Attention seniors, you’ve officially reached your last week of college life. Finals are upon us, and that means that within just a few days, you’ll be preparing to walk across that stage to get your diploma. Finally, right? No more all-night study sessions or sitting through hours-long lectures. Yes! You’re free! But wait…the real world is beckoning. And it’s, well, feeling a little…scary. Have no fear. Grads before you have been in your exact same spot. They’ve navigated post-college life (successfully!) and are back to share their words of wisdom. Read on to get invaluable insight about entering the career force or wherever life takes you.

Kristin Haas, ’18:

My advice to seniors would be to not put so much pressure on yourself after graduation. Nobody has their life immediately figured out after they walk across that stage, and it’s normal to be a little intimidated and apprehensive about what comes next. Post grad life can be a difficult adjustment at first, because for the first time there really isn’t a “next step” planned out for you, and it’s up to you to choose the direction you want to go in. Embrace the opportunities as they come, take chances to learn about yourself and grow both personally and professionally, and trust the journey. It may take some time, but you will end up where you were meant to be. 

Marissa Peltz, ’17:

Be a sponge.  That was the biggest compliment I ever got in my first job.  “You’re a sponge, Marissa, you soak up everything around you.”  Be attentive, observe, accept that you don’t know everything (this was a hard one for me), ask questions and really listen to the answers.  People notice people who are present and willing to learn from them.

Katy Huff, ’17:

Your comfort zone isn’t set in stone. Most of your regrets will come from not trying something new, talking to someone different or testing your limits. The two most important things you can do in life are believe in and love yourself. Don’t second guess yourself. You didn’t spend all those years in school to settle for becoming anything less than who you dreamed you’d become.

Natalie Abbate, ’17:

Network with people in the industry and keep good relationships with past coworkers/employers. You never know what could change in the future. Also, I hope you paid attention in your retail math classes!

Francesca Aloe, ’18:

My best piece of advice for those of you about to graduate is to think about what YOU want. Sometimes we can get wrapped up in what other people are doing with their lives and we start to compare where we are to where they are. That is a dangerous thing to do. Everyone is on their own path in life. And don’t be embarrassed if your plans don’t work out the way you hope, it just means you’re moving on to bigger and better things.

Olivia Wagner, ’18:

Keep your big goals to yourself. You will be surprised what you can achieve when you work hard in silence.

Alyssa Blankenship, ’18:

Don’t stress out about getting the perfect job right out of school. Network as much as you possibly can. It’s normal to not feel confident or comfortable in your first job in the field until about 6 months to 8 months in. (Trust me, I didn’t think I could do it, but now I love my job and feel confident everyday!)

Brittany Scully, ’14:

Slow and steady wins the race. In college you’re used to being around people relatively all your age and in the same stage of life. This could be the first time that you will be surrounded by and working with people of all different ages, personalities and experience levels. Remember you are not expected to know everything right away. Ask lots of questions and take notes so you always have something to go back and reference. Showing curiosity and ambition is always noticed and over time your skills will progressively grow. 

Show up with a good attitude. Being optimistic, positive, a team player and showing you care goes a long way in any work environment. Be professional. If the work culture is relaxed it could be easy to get too comfortable with your co workers. Try to read how others interact and mirror their level of professionalism. 

Jenna Tobin, ’16:

Congratulations upcoming grads! You’ve worked so hard for this moment and the real world is finally approaching. I promise, it’s not as scary as it may sound. Each one of you are about to go on your own journey and experience so many amazing things. Whatever route you’re about to go on, my best advice would be to cherish each learning experience you have, choose a path that makes you happy, and understand that failing is OK!! As long as you give it your all, enjoy what you’re doing, know your value, and learn every day, you’re going to have great success. Wishing you nothing but the best!

Lexie Spoden, ’15:

When trying to figure out what you want to do with your life, first really figure out what you love to do, and why you love to do it. We obviously all love fashion, but the why behind it can vary from person to person, and the why will lead you to what you should pursue. Do you love the creation process? Then maybe design or product development is your calling. Is customer behavior something that fascinates you? Maybe you should look into marketing! You may not know yet until you start trying things out, and that’s ok. Your first job may not be your forever career, but no matter what, it will be a learning experience in your path to life. And remember, everyone’s path is different, because we are all different, so don’t compare your path to others. Congratulations and most importantly, have fun!

Val Silva, ’14:

Do not be afraid to follow your dreams no matter how crazy or impossible they might seem. Always be open to new opportunities, but most importantly make sure to do what makes you happy.

Megan Stepnoski, ’12:

Ask questions! No one is going to get mad at you for asking how to do something right. They will get mad if you don’t ask and do it wrong. And Fake it tll you make it!

Jennifer Craven

Jennifer Craven is an instructor of fashion merchandising at Mercyhurst University.