Seniors begin ‘Final Countdown’

By CiaraShook

Preparing for the real world is frightening enough, but preparing for graduation is another piece of the puzzle for seniors seeing the light at the end of the four-year-long tunnel.

With the days of college winding down and graduation nearing, Columbia has made services available and planned events for seniors to prepare for entering the job market. Some of these resources are new and others have been revamped. Columbia is offering a new breed of year-end activities, including a more expansive Industry Night and a commencement poetry competition.

The campaign, directed at undergraduates and graduates preparing for commencement at the end of the spring semester, is called the Final Countdown, said Jill Summers, director for the Office of Special Events.

Summers said students with senior credits have been receiving graduation updates via e-mails that check in with them to make sure they are completing tasks such as creating a resume and portfolio, looking for jobs and preparing for commencement.

“The biggest question I get is, ‘Is my audit complete?’” Summers said.

Graduating students should check with their college adviser for any questions regarding their audit and to make sure their credits are on track.

“Just because you walk doesn’t mean you’re graduating,” Summers said. “You can show up for commencement, walk, get your diploma cover, but [your graduating] is based on your credits being completed.”

Students participating in commencement ceremonies May 15 and 16 will have completed their degree in the fall of 2009, or spring, summer or winter of 2010.

The Portfolio Center plays a significant role in preparing seniors for the real world by helping students compile their best work and through events such as Job Search Strategies, Networking and a Resume Writing Workshop.

The Portfolio Center also organizes Industry Night, an event during the week of commencement that connects graduating students to potential employers. Previously a one-night affair, Industry Night will be stretched this year into three evenings and the college will be inviting more industry professionals than last year’s 700-plus guest list.

“Because the event has been so popular and it’s expanded so quickly, it’s going over three nights,” said Tim Long, director of the Portfolio Center.

The students in the performing arts, such as theater and dance, will have their Industry Night April 11; media arts students will meet with industry professionals in the Media Production Center May 12 and the evening before Manifest, May 13, is reserved for design students such as photography, advertising and illustration.

At the portfolio station, students will be able to introduce themselves to professionals and look at other students’ work and exchange cards, Long said.

“It is, at base, a networking event,” Long said.

Mark Kelly, vice president for Student Affairs, said this year’s Manifest will be stronger than ever, with a more

culminating experience.

“The parade is disappearing, and we’re doing something better,” Kelly said. “The concept of [what we’re doing will be a] way of accomplishing what the parade was trying to do.”

Kari Sommers, assistant dean of Student Life, said many of Columbia’s resources will be available to alumni after they graduate.

“The Alumni Office has an amazing online community, not unlike the Student Loop,” Sommers said.

Graduating students should go to the Alumni Office and make sure they get an alumni card, which gives them access to the open labs and the library, Sommers said. Columbia offers discounts to many different places, such as Jazz Record Mart and the National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum.

“The Alumni Office also has a discount program for graduates to get insurance, which works out nicely because the insurance industry has found college graduates to be at lower risk,” Sommers said.