I understand the pressure that looms with the promise of graduation. I spent four years working hard at post-secondary only to discover the disappointment, hopelessness and confusion that surrounds graduating and entering the workforce.
For me and many of my classmates, graduation meant freedom. It held the promise of steady, livable paycheques. Holding that degree made it all worth it: those long nights studying, the exam season stress, hours spent writing essays, years away from my family and the thousands of dollars I’d spent to achieve that degree. But despite this piece of paper that was my motivation for four years, I couldn’t find a job where I could use it.
I entered the working world and wished immediately that I could go back. I wished I’d made more of an effort to make connections; I wished I’d stepped outside of my comfort zone. I wished that I’d used those four years to meet new people, learn how to talk big instead of small and build the kind of connections it seemed like everyone else around me had. I wished that I could have a second chance.
Now, I’m at NAIT for Round 2. I told myself upon receiving my acceptance to NAIT that this time would be different. I’d get involved in my school; I’d step outside of my comfort zone. Isn’t that where they say life begins?
As a writer for The Nugget, I volunteered to attend and write an article about Life After NAIT, a networking event to better prepare students for the workplace. I knew that this event lay just outside my comfort bubble; that meant I had to go.
Shockingly, I surprised myself. It took only five minutes of awkwardly standing in the corner of the room, trying my best not to look down at my cell phone, before I walked up to someone and introduced myself. Then, a few minutes later, did it again. And, the conversations I found myself having were not about the weather. They were real, meaningful discussions. I
couldn’t believe it.
I found myself in an unexpected hour-long conversation with a regular frequenter of NAIT alumni events, genuinely interested in sharing his advice and experience to progress my career. He disclosed valuable tips, like how to make my business card stand out among a stack of others, the art of conversation starters at social events and the immense power of networking.
I was surrounded by wise and willing professionals not just prepared but excited to share their expertise with eager and ambitious young students. The positive and open environment stimulated questions, fostered worthwhile connections and inspired the exchange of priceless advice and insights.
At Life After NAIT, I met new people from all backgrounds: successful working
professionals, hopeful and determined students and encouraging NAIT staff. I
met individuals who, similar to myself, feel completely lost at the thought of exiting post-secondary. I also met students who wore their confidence like a name tag. Every individual that I met at Life After NAIT offered me valuable insights I would not have been afforded otherwise and presented me with the opportunity to connect in a small but genuine and meaningful way.
This was my first Life After NAIT event, and it will not be my last. The future seems no less daunting but I will be definitely more prepared.
Click to read accompanying story.
– Shawna Bannerman, Assistant Editor
Immage by Dominic Manea