"UB alumni share what they feared before graduation, where they are now "
It's the most important piece of advice Danielle Marmel, who graduated from UB in 2013, gives to this year's graduating class.
There are more than 220,000 UB alumni across the globe, according to UB's commencement website. Some recent graduates find themselves pursuing their dream careers by either working or attending graduate schools. Others place a greater importance in taking time off before making the decision of what to do after graduation.
During a time when numerous graduates aren't finding jobs immediately after college - 53 percent of college graduates under the age of 25 who graduated from liberal arts colleges are jobless or underemployed, according to The Atlantic, and nearly 1.74 million students nationwide enrolled in graduate schools in fall 2012, according to The Council of Graduate Schools - Marmel stressed how far networking has gotten her.
Marmel is currently an account coordinator at Shadow PR, a public relations, fashion and beauty, hospitality and lifestyle firm based in New York City. The internship programs UB offered helped her network during her undergraduate career - she believes networking helped her attain her current position.
"UB's internship program helped me apply for and receive an internship at Chanel and then Shadow PR," Marmel said. "I will carry the contacts I made during these two experiences with me throughout my entire career. These two internships have allowed me to learn about the industry I'm passionate about and led me to meeting my current boss, who saw potential in me during my internship and hired me once I graduated."
Marmel's entry-level position is a dream job for many current communication majors - she was featured on the Today Show wearing a "red-carpet inspired" gown for a fashion segment during her first year of work.
She knew she would be entering the work world after graduation, so she took some time off during the summer after her senior year to go on vacation with her family and celebrate.
Marmel said the scariest part of leaving UB was not knowing if she was entering a job she wanted for the rest of her life.
"And I'm still not 100 percent positive this is what I will be doing for the rest of my life, but it's been a learning process," Marmel said. "And now I know I'm on the right track."
Marmel believes it's important to take some time off before diving into a job. She took time to research Shadow PR before working there. She spent about a month familiarizing herself with her future clients so she would be prepared.
Justin Neuwirt, a 2013 alum who served as Student Association treasurer, did not take time off between graduation and work.
He graduated on May 15 and started working on May 20 for Gerstein Fisher, a wealth management firm located in Midtown Manhattan.
Like Marmel, Neuwirt interned at the company as an undergraduate. During the summer before his sophomore year, Neuwirt volunteered at Gerstein Fisher and continued to do research for the firm throughout his college career.
He is now a client adviser and works with individuals and families to help them reach their financial goals. Neuwirt believes he was hired because of his work ethic and networking skills.
"There are many college graduates all looking for positions across all industries so you need to network, speak to as many people from all different backgrounds," Neuwirt said. "You never know who will land you your dream job or introduce you to someone who will. And then once you get that first job - dream or not - you need to work hard to stand out."
Neuwirt currently has an apartment in New York City and believes he is living at least the beginning of his dream. But not everyone leaves UB and lands a job. Some students choose to further their education.
Ashley Fertig, who graduated from UB in 2012, is now a second-year law student. While at UB, she was most afraid of the "unknown" after graduation, she said.
"I knew that leaving college meant beginning the next chapter in my life," Fertig said. "But no matter how much you plan, you never know what it can bring."
Four months after commencement, Fertig began studying at Brooklyn Law School.
"It's true what they say that the first year is very hard - everything is new and it's probably the most competitive year," Fertig said. "But once you're an upperclassman, you get to pick the classes, the extracurricular activities and the internship or clinic that you want. It's all about learning the art of time management, and if you do it right, you still have time for a social life."
As she finishes her second year of law school, she said she has learned life after college is not as scary as many fear it may be.
Fertig said she owes some of her success to her time at UB. She learned great study habits and joined activities and organizations where she met new people and ventured out of her comfort zone.
"I certainly think all of it has helped me navigate law school a bit better," Fertig said. "I also gained an amazing group of friends at UB that is as supportive and strong as it was two years ago when we graduated."
Fertig's biggest piece of advice to aspiring lawyers: do not attend law school unless you really want to.
"Law school is a serious commitment and it's not always clear right out of college if it's something you want to do," Fertig said. "Don't be afraid to take time off from school to think about it. But if it is for you, it's definitely an incredibly rewarding experience and can show you what you're truly made of."
As seniors prepare to graduate in a few weeks and look toward the future, Fertig urges them to "soak up every minute ... because you never know what you have until it's gone."
Fertig, Marmel and Neuwirt are pleased with where they have ended up and look forward to continuing their education and careers. They urge UB seniors to enjoy their final days as undergrads before entering life after college.