Transition

Transition from College to Real Life

For the past 18 or 19 years of your life, you’ve been either told what to do or knew what you needed to do. Now, you’re on your own. The options are open and your Alpha Phi sisters will still be there for you, but the safety net of school won’t be (unless, of course, you choose graduate school!). You might feel worried, scared, excited, ambivalent or all of the above at various times. And that’s totally valid. To help you with your transition as you graduate, we have some advice:

chapman_graduates_17
1. Don’t freak out.
It is normal to feel uneasy about graduation, but don’t let that anxiety get the best of you. For one thing, you’re not alone. Talk to your sisters about your fears and excitement. You’re in this together and they all want to see you succeed, just like you want them to succeed. On a professional note, try not to let your anxiety about what to do next push you into a job you’re not sure you want. It’s better to wait for the right job than to take one and feel miserable about it. Of course, you might not immediately achieve your dream job, so weigh the pros and cons, but be patient.

2. Be humble. You’ve worked hard and earned your degree, but that doesn’t mean you’re automatically going to land a job or impress an employer or earn a lot of money. In the real world, you’re essentially starting from scratch. You’ll need to prove yourself just as you did in school. The world doesn’t owe you anything just because you got a high GPA. You do, however, owe it to yourself to make deliberate decisions, not rash decisions based on fear.

3. Visit your university’s career center. Floundering a little when it comes to job-hunting? Most campuses have helpful career centers with a wide variety of resources, including an online portal with job opportunities and alumni contacts. Take advantage of these resources. This can also be a good place to get a second glance at your resume and cover letter. Bring in a completed draft for feedback—you may need to make an appointment for this, so check beforehand.

4. Interviews are opportunities. Remember, an interview is a two way street—you’re learning about the job and putting your best foot forward, and in turn the employer is presenting the job in a positive way and learning about you. Make sure to come with questions—both job related and personal. People always enjoy talking about themselves, but stay away from getting too casual and chummy with an interviewer, as you do want to showcase your professionalism. Also, be prepared for the big questions, like, “What do you want to do with your life?” It’s a daunting one because you may not really have an answer, but have something in mind and something better than, “Work for your company!” Be honest; if you’re not sure what you want to do with your life, that’s OK; just consider your strengths and emphasize your passions. An employer would rather see who you are than hear an answer that they have encountered many times before. Honesty makes you stand out, and standing out is a good thing.

5. Network. One of the best ways to get information about a company and its open positions is to use personal connections to your advantage. Sometimes it can feel like you’re submitting your cover letter into a cyberspace black-hole, but making contacts at specific companies gives you a leg up—and a name to put down as a reference. It also makes you feel more in control, something that recent graduates often lack. Alpha Phi is a great foundation for networking with women in your field of interest, and with email and cell phones, it’s easier than ever to get in touch. Recommend a meeting over coffee and bring your resume. In that meeting, chances are, the alumna will give you the names and emails of three or four other contacts. If not, feel free to ask. Not sure where to start the networking process? Join the official Alpha Phi International LinkedIn site.

6. Learn time management. At school, you could plan classes so you didn’t need to roll out of bed until one in the afternoon. In real life, you’ll likely have a job that requires you be, not only awake, but dressed and raring to go by 9 am. So, mentally prepare for that and factor in an earlier bedtime. On the flip side, you shouldn’t need to pull all-nighters for your job!

7. Carry Alpha Phi with you. Never let anyone tell you that Alpha Phi is “just a college thing.” The life lessons gained during your time as an Alpha Phi helped you become better friends, sisters and even employees. Alpha Phi supports you even when your sisters are spread far and wide.

Roommates

How to find a roommate

Whether you lived in your chapter house with Alpha Phi sisters as built-in roommates, off-campus housing with your besties or a single dorm with friends all around, it’s probably a given that once you graduate you’ll be looking to share rent with someone. The sooner you start planning this post-graduation requirement, the better. So, if you’re not sure how that’s all going to pan out, it’s time to figure it out.

Before jumping in, test the waters with a few key questions.
Does the person…
..drink, smoke or use drugs?
..have a pet?
..keep odd hours?
..have a significant other who will be staying over?
..have sufficient financial means to pay the rent and utilities?
..want to share costs of things like toilet paper and trash bags?
..consider themselves neat or messy?
..plan to share household chores?
..plan to hang out with you or do her own thing?

csulb_sisters_18

Now, check out these tips for finding that person:

1. Try social media. Many of the posts on the Alpha Phi LinkedIn group page focus on women seeking roommates, sub-letters or apartments. Skim what’s there or post your own in-search-of. The same goes for your college or Alpha Phi chapter’s Facebook and Twitter pages (use a hashtag like “roommate”).

2. “Roommate finder.” Search that term online and you’ll find results including roomiematch.com, easyroommate.com, roomates.com and roomster.com. They all have their own features and idiosyncrasies, and some are global, while others are limited to certain cities, so find the one that works for you. Besides narrowing down by answering questions and criteria, you’ll get a sense of rental prices in the city you’d like to live.

3. Use Craigslist. Proceed with caution on Craigslist due to reports of scams and frauds, but it can still be an effective means to an end when used smartly. You can search postings or create your own post. We suggest always taking another adult with you to view an apartment; do not go alone.

4. Use your network. Friends, family and Alpha Phi sisters all have connections, so tap into them. It could be a sister’s friend or a friend’s sister, but whatever it is, it’s worth pursuing. Do they have an apartment and need another roommate? Or does she want to look for an apartment in the same city as you? Finding someone close to your own age is most helpful, but not essential.

5. Check on campus. First stop, your Alpha Phi chapter, but then check the campus postings in general. There’s often somewhere that pulls together student roommate queries.

6. Ask your employer. Are you moving to a new place with job in hand? See if the human relations director can point to any roommate resources or possibly another new hire at the company who might be seeking a roommate too.

7. Tell everyone. Get the word out that you’re looking for a roommate. Tell your new coworkers, your family and of course, your Alpha Phi sisters.

New City

Relocating to a New City

You might be heading to a new location for a job, for a significant other or because it’s just where you want to be. In any case, moving somewhere new can bring up a lot of emotional and logistical worries. Be ready for the ups and downs with some encouraging advice.

Random buildings

You’ll make friends. You may have the most amazing apartment and a great job and even a decent roommate who willingly takes out the garbage. But if you don’t have a good friend or two, a new city can feel pretty lonely. So where do you meet people? Not sitting on your couch. Join an Alpha Phi alumnae chapter in the area, take a class, join junior league, attend a free concert in the park, volunteer and check out meetup.com for people with similar interests (just remember to be safe and follow your instincts if anyone seems suspicious). Then make a connection with someone who seems like a potential friend. Exchange phone numbers and know that you might need to be the one who makes the first call. Bottom line: Be proactive, take the initiative and get off your couch and start exploring. Read more here.

You’ll feel settled. It’s a weird feeling moving from a place where you were the expert to a place where you don’t even know where the nearest Starbucks is. Don’t panic and don’t be paralyzed by fear of the unknown. It’ll take some trial and error to find what you’re looking for, and when you do, give yourself a pat on the back because you did it! You can always ask around too—and if you don’t know anyone, start by connecting with the Alpha Phi alumnae chapter in the area. Mostly remember, it’s a learning curve and all part of the adventure. Pretty soon, you’ll be showing around visitors like you own the place.

You’ll learn how to get around. One of the best ways to learn a new city is to get lost in it. Just be aware of the sketchy neighborhoods so you don’t end up in a dangerous situation. Invest in a city map that you can actually hold in your hand—GPS does a great job of directing us places, but it falls short on presenting context and the big picture. Study the map to understand where your apartment is in relation to work, to the gym and to the nearest train or bus station. Traveling by public transportation through a new city also gives you a great perspective on how close or far everything is. Taking the bus might be slower than a train, but sometimes that’s a good thing because you can catch street names as you roll by. Never hesitate to ask a train attendant or bus driver which way you should go—in some cities (New York, we’re talking to you), they may not be cheerful, but they’ll be helpful.

You’ll have enough money. Moving costs a lot, between the security deposits and the new cleaning supplies and the trips to IKEA for that extra lamp (and a few other things), it just does. Plus, there will be unexpected costs, like that parking ticket you got because you didn’t know the street cleaning schedule. In other words, you might be feeling a financial pinch for a little while. It’s expected, but it doesn’t have to last long if you listen to your inner accountant and reign in spending enough to feel sturdy again. Do your best to keep away from credit card debt: It’s a nasty lesson to learn the hard way that racking up debt and its interest only benefits the bank, not you. Be smart about it and you’ll hit that financial balance between splurging and paying your rent on time.

You’ll be challenged and be OK. Without a safety net of people you know, everything will seem a little harder. Just know that it gets easier, but it also takes some time and patience. After a few weeks of floundering, you might think you made a huge mistake, but push through it. Call your Alpha Phi sisters for a venting session and then get back to making your new city your new home. In the end, you’ll have faced your fears and learned valuable life lessons, including how strong you are.

You’ll keep in touch with your Alpha Phi sisters. You’ve likely realized by now that graduating is bittersweet. One of the incredible aspects of being a member of Alpha Phi is that, no matter where you go and where you are, your sisters will always be there. You might not be able to share breakfast, lunch, dinner and midnight ice cream runs with them quite as often, but you’ve already created a bond that stretches across state and even country lines.

You’ll see how it goes! If you’ve done everything you could and muscled through the hard parts, and you’ve been in your new place for more than a year, but you just aren’t feeling it, you can always chalk this up to Plan A gone wrong and work on Plan B. We all make mistakes and then we learn from them, right? We might laugh about it or cry, but it’s OK. You only get to the great things in life when you take a risk or two, and sometimes that means falling on our faces a few times. Dust yourself off, take stock of what worked and what didn’t, make a graceful exit and move on.

Making Friends

Making New Friends

lsu_sisters.jpgIt’s something that doesn’t quite sink in until it’s happening: It’s hard to make new friends when you graduate. In school, you met potential friends all the time, and then you saw them almost every day, so the bond grew quickly. In real life, it takes more effort, but it’s worth that effort. In fact, without the limitations of a school environment, you might even have more in common with the friends you make beyond school. Here are some ways to go about it:

1. Join your alumnae chapter. That’s an easy one, so it makes sense to start there. You’re an Alpha Phi for life, so reap the rewards.

2. Volunteer. Again, a great place to start is Alpha Phi’s volunteer listings online to see if there are any opportunities in your area. Or find a cause you’re interested in and attend an informational session. Maybe it’s an animal rescue organization or a homeless shelter. Either way, you might have to work up the courage to go by yourself, but once you’re there, you’re bound to meet people with similar interests.

3. Get a dog. Babies and dogs are inevitable attention-getters, so if you have the time and space for a dog, one of the benefits is the people it will attract. Visit a city dog park to mingle with other dog-lovers or just stroll around busier areas and chances are someone will ask to pet your pooch. Don’t want to commit to having your own dog? You could borrow a friend’s or serve as a foster parent for a rescue organization, meaning you’d only have dogs for short periods of time.

4. Check your social media. Are there friends of friends or Alpha Phi sisters in your area that you didn’t even realize? Introduce yourself and plan a time to meet in person. Or ask a mutual friend to make the introduction.

5. Answer the invites. If an acquaintance or a coworker asks you to join them at a party or a networking event, unless your gut says “bad idea,” go for it. You might not even like the person who invited you, but you might meet other people there who were worth the risk of going.

6. Connect with a religious institution. Almost every church and synagogue (and some mosques) have young adult outreach activities, often even outside of the religious space itself. It’s worth checking out the options in your area or simply attending services to meet people there too.

7. Join a social sports group. You don’t need to be a star athlete to play for fun. Many large cities have social sports clubs that generally meet weekly for things like beach volleyball, touch football, soccer and more. Some of the most fun happens after the game is over when teammates go out to socialize.

8. Work out. Turn your exercise into a friend-meeting exercise. Join a running club or register for group exercise classes. Chat up the people who seem like your kind of people and suggest coffee or a drink at some point, then follow up.