Hindsight: Recent NYU Graduates Give Advice for Seniors


Courtesy of NYU Photo Bureau: Hollenshead

For many, graduation and the prospect of beginning a career can be both exciting and terrifying. NYU graduates offer their perspective on the transition.

Alyssa Kelly and Faith Gates

After four years of research papers, projects and overnight Bobst sessions, graduation greets seniors with a diploma and a heartfelt goodbye as they head toward the future. But what exactly does that entail? How does one go from college to career?

Silver alum Kelly Bailey graduated this January and within weeks of finishing her classes, she was employed and living in Los Angeles.

“I was very fortunate about that,” Bailey said. “I began my job searching process about halfway through my last semester and then I started working by January 30, about a month after graduating. It really hasn’t been as much of a difficult transition as I anticipated, which is very nice. I went into it expecting it to be more boring than it is.”

Despite her immediate success, Bailey knows a lot of other people don’t get jobs right after graduating, and feels like NYU prepared her well.

“Even though I’m not in a hospitality job right now, which is kind of unexpected, I felt incredibly prepared, especially compared to other people I know coming from other universities,” Bailey said. “One of the main reasons was all the internship opportunities provided at NYU. While I was there, I was able to do so many of them. They were all kind of different jobs and you just learn how to quickly acclimate to learning environments.”

Bailey advises all students to always apply for positions, even if you don’t feel qualified for them. Bailey feels this caused her to develop professional much faster than if she had tried to play it safe.

Not every NYU graduate is lucky enough to get a job right out of college. CAS alum James Lanning moved back in with his parents in Maryland after graduating with degrees in journalism and Africana studies. He returned to New York after six months and pursued different passions than those he majored in.

Lanning is currently working at a coffee shop while pursuing a future in music. While his life didn’t turn out the way he expected after graduating, he still believes NYU prepared him.

“In terms of writing aspects, it’s helped a lot — I still write every day,” Lanning said. “Obviously the writing isn’t as formulaic, it’s definitely different. But how I see the world now definitely helps, and how to formulate information and knowing how to take things on a surface level.”

CAS alum Tess Rosenberry had experiences similar to both Bailey’s and Lanning’s. After graduating in 2016 with an environmental studies degree, she traveled around Europe and the United States before job hunting for a month and finding a job in New York City as a food justice and gardening educator at Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation. She also works part time at Van Leeuwen Ice Cream.

“Really, I had no clue what my life would look like post-graduation while I was starting school, or even most of the way through it,” Rosenberry said. “I think I would be proud that I’ve managed to stay in the city, find work that aligns with my interests and values and have such a wonderful group of friends. Proud, and maybe a bit pleasantly surprised.”

CAS alum and European studies major Kelly Davis took yet another post-graduation path — she returned to NYU as a graduate student studying European Politics and Policy. In addition to school, she works part time as an office assistant and part time as a babysitter.

“Most of my friends either don’t feel settled with what they are doing now in terms of what their jobs are, and if they are happy with their jobs then there is a point where the regular routine gets tiresome and makes them feel as if they are not content with their jobs,” Davis said. “I’m not sitting at a desk for eight hours, five days a week — my weekly routine remains more or less the same, but the Monday routine is entirely different from the Thursday routine.”

Despite the different paths they chose, the graduates all have similar advice for NYU students and soon-to-be-graduates. Both Bailey and Rosenberry strongly urge current students to get involved.

“I wish I’d gotten involved earlier — it wasn’t really until my junior year that I started pushing myself to really join up with organizations on campus, to go to events and to meet new people,” Rosenberry said. “By the time I graduated, I was so ingrained in and committed to my NYU community that I was busy every minute of the day, and didn’t resent it whatsoever. I wish I’d had more time to do the same.”

Bailey joined a club during her sophomore year, but still didn’t feel that was enough and now wishes she had joined more, and sooner. She said the NYU community is hard to break into, but the challenge is definitely worth it.

Rosenberry and Davis love the way the NYU community impacted them. Rosenberry enjoyed spending her time with like-minded people with whom she grew and built a strong network.  Meanwhile, Davis found friends she could do activities — like protesting — with.

“I did a lot of social activism and it was the best thing I could have done,” Davis said. “Protesting is our right and I think college is a great time to really embrace it and learn from it. Seriously, go join a campaign and potentially get suspended for occupying [the Kimmel Center for University Life] or an elevator.”

Bailey and Davis both agree that soon-to-be-alumnis should not worry about the confusing future ahead.

“Don’t stress too much about the future — only so much of it is in your control,” Bailey said. “What you majored in doesn’t have to be the career that you work in. And I think that once you stop restricting yourself, it opens you up to a whole new world of possibilities.”

Email Alyssa Kelly and Faith Gates at [email protected].