Looking Ahead to Graduation

Calah McQuarters, MBA/MPP '24

February 06, 2024

Calah McQuartersHappy New Year!

I’m not sure when you’re reading this, but for me it is currently January 30, 2024. I know I know. We are already a month into 2024 and I’m still saying Happy New Year? Yes. Yes I am!

I had an epiphany recently that I would like to share with you. This year will be my last year of formal education, ever. For 21 of the last 25 years, my life has revolved around a 10 month calendar that begins in August and ends in May. As August approached, I prepared for a new school year, shopping for school materials, uniforms, and even a place to live just to be able to go to school and be a successful student. And now, the end is just over the horizon.  

Now, I am very excited at the prospect of never being a student again. While I love learning, I am ready for homework to be a thing of the past. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous. Maybe a lot of nervous. When the majority of your life has been dictated according to class schedules and assignment deadlines, it can be a bit daunting when people suddenly start asking you to make your own decisions. And while I have had 25 years to come up with an answer to the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, I can firmly tell you the answer is still I. Don’t. Know. That’s not entirely true. Do I know the impact I want to make? Yes. Do I know who I want to impact? Also yes. Do I know the area I want to make that impact in? …we’ll come back to this one. But one of the things I’ve learned during my time at Heller is I don’t have to know the answers to these questions now. And it is very likely that the answers to these questions will change MULTIPLE times throughout my professional career. I have been fortunate to meet so many people at Heller who are making mid-career transitions and coming up with new answers to these questions after years of a successful life career. It’s taught me to just enjoy the ride. Make sure you’re on the right ride! If you don’t want to be a doctor, you may want to avoid the medical school ride. But other than that, I’m learning to enjoy. 

So! What am I doing to prepare for life post graduation?

  1. Keeping my resume and cover letter template updated. If you would have asked me even a year ago how I felt about doing these two tasks, I simply would have walked in the other direction, fleeing responsibility. But as with most things in life, it has gotten easier (and less revolting) with practice!
  2. Applying for everything in sight. As I search for summer internships (that could turn into post graduation opportunities), I am casting a wide net. Another thing I have learned in life and at Heller is every experience can teach you if you let it! And in a world where everything is becoming interconnected, it is important to know a little about everything if you can!
  3. Utilizing school resources. I have a confession to make. For the majority of my undergrad and grad school life, I didn’t really take advantage of the career services offered by my schools. Whether I was just too wrapped up in extracurriculars or overwhelmed by the thought of the future, I never utilized the FREE career service resources. Until now! I can firmly say that I am somewhat of a Handshake expert (or I’d like to think so) and I am an avid reader of our career services newsletter! These among other resources at Brandeis have exposed me to many opportunities I would never have known of otherwise.
  4. Continuing to try. When you’re applying for anything in life, there are bound to be some no’s or maybe even a few instances of ghosting by employers. That’s okay! I’ve continued to remind myself that I’m not right for every opportunity and every opportunity isn’t right for me! But as long as I continue to try and put myself out there, what is meant for me will never pass me!

Welcome to the beginning of the end of my formal education year (I’m going to have to find a shorter name for it)! I will try and keep you updated on the “last firsts” I have over the year and any yeses I receive! It’s going to be a beautifully terrifying year, but I am excited for the journey ahead. 

Ps. If you’re an employer reading this, hire me! ;)