Letters to Seniors from Seniors

As part of a seniors-only course called UNXD 351, or “What’s My Story?” In Spring 2017, 2018, 2019 (and an alumni version in Summer 2020), students were asked to write a letter to future seniors. 

Read on — this is for you.

Trust your gut and don’t focus on what you’re missing out on. Dwelling on and mourning what has been lost is an important part of processing and healing, but you’ll miss the good stuff if you don’t keep your eyes open to what’s in front of you and what will happen in the future. 

Push yourself to do work on extracting your values and what is important to you, and know that you are doing the work and the right thing to get to where you need to be, even if it takes more time than you would expect. 

From a class of 2020 graduate

Hey there Class of [2022] senior!  I am so excited for you as you begin your transition into “real adulthood” (yikes!!)  As a Class of 2020 graduate, I have a sense of the struggles, fears, and sadness you might be facing right now.  Based on my experience, I would urge you to 

(a) focus on your mental health as much as you can and 

(b) find someone who can be your “accountability partner” to help you along the way to finding your first job.  

I know this experience of job searching during a triple pandemic is daunting and sometimes demoralizing, but I have faith in you.  Always remember that even though the job search might feel endless, this time will only be a small blip in the larger story of your life!

From a class of 2020 graduate who just landed a great job in September 2020

Congratulations on making it to your senior year. We know that these last couple years were not simple nor easy. Though it is a highly disappointing way to end out the year, there is still so much you can reap from your last year as an undergrad at Georgetown. It is my hope that you allow yourself the time, space, and opportunities for such thought and reflection. You will soon come to know the value of treasuring your experiences and articulating them, if you haven’t already.

I have gained so much through my experiences and the people at Georgetown. I hold all of it near and dear to my heart. As the first daughter of immigrant parents and a first gen college student, I’ve had to do a lot of navigating for myself and even my family. I would like to say that I am always appreciative of how it’s shaped me, but there are still many times where I wrestle with the frustration. I never thought these were challenges to my well being until I got to Georgetown, where people held space and acknowledgment for my journey. Therefore, I want to acknowledge whatever you and your situation may be. I may not know the full picture, but there is much compassion to be shared for your own journey. Let it shape you and challenge you to be exactly what  you strive to improve about yourself. 

It was during these precise moments that I found the support I could never imagine asking for. Some can call it luck, but I really believe that we attract what we put out into the world. So even when you’re having a hard time, keep on smiling, working hard, and wishing the best for all those around you. You have no idea how much kindness and generosity there is– especially within this very community. Yes, there are a lot of flaws and so many improvements to be made, but that’s where we have a role to play. Pave the world you want to see for yourself and your loved ones. 

From a class of 2020 graduate

Honestly, enjoy senior year as much as you can. Most things will work themselves out. However, I would recommend two things. First, set two, serious, tangible goals for the year and plan them out. Not just “get a job” or “strengthen my relationships” but specific, detailed goals. Secondly, take a few hours at the beginning of the year and write a paragraph on your personal life goals, and then write another paragraph on your career/professional goals. Really think about them and be honest with yourself. Keep them by your bed or your desk or wherever you will see them frequently. And then revise them or change them as the year goes on. Best of luck!

REMAIN CALM. Reflection is the key to future success so ignore the noise and focus on what you think you are good and passionate about. There is no point in rushing and stressing to end up in a job you hate.

Everyone’s senior year follows a different trajectory. It may seem like everyone is interviewing or has their job or even knows what they want to do post graduation, but that is so not true. Go at your own pace and take this time to be introspective and think for yourself. Soon you will be out in the real world where you won’t have the backbone/security of Georgetown around you or a thousand kids your own age along your side. Use this semester to be individualistic and stop caring about what everyone else is doing. Be honest with yourself and don’t be afraid to take the path less traveled because this is the time to take chances!

Senior year can be an incredibly difficult and stressful time, when it comes to applying for jobs and engaging in interviews among your fellow Hoyas. It is easy to get caught up in this chaos, letting days and months pass by. But remember to take a moment and breathe. Take advantage of this time and love yourself as you spend your final days on the Hilltop. Spend time with friends that you will miss and engage in conversations that challenge your perspective. Go out in DC and do all of those things that are still unchecked on that bucket list you made at the beginning of freshman year. Be responsible and have fun! It may be hard to believe at the moment, but better years lie ahead!!

All of the biggest turning points of my senior year happened when I least expected them – including getting my highest GPA of my Georgetown career, landing my dream fellowship, and going through a difficult breakup. Retrospectively, I wish I had dedicated less time and energy to obsessing over all of those things, and spent more time hanging out with my friends and doing all of the spontaneous things that popped into my head – things that I quickly pushed aside out of laziness or concern about wasting time. I would also have started talking to alums and other professionals earlier – not even to improve my prospects of getting a job, but just to move along the process of figuring out what I wanted to do with myself and my life after graduation. Finally, the best thing that this class taught me was not to freak out about career timelines, as there are thousands of new jobs available each day, and tons of them are a lot more interesting than finance/consulting!

Do not stress when your friends are all getting jobs and you are still on the hunt. Everything will work out eventually and be confident in telling your story. You are graduating with a degree from Georgetown so have an amazing senior year, you’ve worked hard the past three years for it!

All of the good things that came to me in life were never clear or in front of me. Reflecting on what parts of college were the most impactful, all of the parts only came to me because I was open to engaging with them. Second semester senior year is such a great time to be open to any resources or people that you didn’t engage with during your time at Georgetown. Sometimes those unfamiliar and uncomfortable environments can be the most revealing about who we have been all along.

Dear Seniors,

…If you’re worried about your post-grad plans… well, join the club. Right now, I don’t have an internship or a job lined up… and it’s almost April. I have been working hard all year to get something (anything), to no avail.** But, it hasn’t been for nothing and over the next two months…I am going to try my hardest to change that.

[Take] time out of your busy Georgetown life to think about who you are and what you want out of a career. Not what company you want to work for, or the job title you hope to have, but you’ll identify the values that are most important to you. You’ll practice interviewing (UGH! I know.) and it might be uncomfortable, but you’ll be grateful for the change in perspective….

For example, I have gone from worrying about how to answer interview questions to knowing this: there are 3-5 good stories you have to tell and each one shows a multitude of characteristics about your personality and the professional/personal skills you have acquired thus far. These are the stories you need to identify and ruminate on (this is the hard work). I am confident that if you prepare these stories and gain a deeper understanding of what the message they tell, you will rarely draw a blank in an interview.

Another thing I’ve learned…: leverage your networks. Ask people you know questions about how they got to where they are today and what advice they might have for you. Identify Georgetown alumni and talk to them. Hoyas help other Hoyas… I guess it’s just a thing we do.

Something I wish I knew: be vulnerable and honest with yourself and those around you because chances are that many of your peers are feeling the same things you are right now. Talk with them and support each other. Right now, I am hopeful that I’ll be okay, and I think you will be too.

**For the record, she got a great job.

GO TO THE CAREER CENTER. You will hear this a lot and dismiss it a lot but it is a resource that has been made for you, will be tailored to you, and wants the best for you. Also don’t compare your story to other people’s stories. Tell your true story, not the story that sounds the best.

I know senior year can be busy, but doing the work is really worthwhile and will only help further your success. Also, don’t feel like you are behind or failing because there is always somebody who is in the exact position you are in. The future is bright!

Go into the [year] with an open mind and don’t be afraid/apprehensive to change, expand, or look at your story from a different lens. Regardless if you have a job or not, take advantage of all the resources [the Career Center] provides you with and use them to improve in any areas you can. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help…

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. In fact, ask too many questions! This is not the time to act as if you have your life all figured out. This is the time and space for you to be the unorganized, lazy, fearful, wandering, juxtaposed mess that you actually are. And trust me, the person next to you who is acting like they have it all together does not. And if they do, they are superhuman and I wish I was them. Be yourself and tell your true, unedited story.

Do you have a best friend? If you were them, what do you think they’d respond with if someone asked them why you were theirs? What would they say makes them enjoy having you in their life? What are the qualities in you that make people value having you around? Some of this may not be transferable, but you should think about the value you provide the people closest to you, both as someone who makes them better and as someone they want to be close by. See if you can translate that into value you could provide to a team at a company.

  1. When worried about the future – look to the past. Would freshman you think you could have accomplished so far.
  2. Trust yourself when you tell yourself you won’t fail. 
  3. Allow yourself to be vulnerable with your classmates, it is a great way to feel less alone in your own circumstances.
  4. Hold on to affirmations you receive, and return to them as you need to.
  5. Pay attention to your values and don’t try and force yourself into a space that isn’t meant for you. I know that I entered this class thinking that I probably should have just done more – studied something different, tried that finance club—etc. if I wanted more opportunities for prospective jobs-ones that were more lucrative and glamorous.  Then I stopped and looked at my values from a class activity and laughed. Why was I mad at myself for not creating an artificial self, and why was I trying to convince myself that those jobs were ones I wanted?  I knew exactly why I never joined those clubs – it wasn’t because I didn’t try hard enough, it was because I never had any interest in them. The evidence on my resume made this even more clear—extracurriculars, classes, experiences, etc., proved to me that I knew exactly who I was and where I was headed. Senior spring isn’t the time to create a new self—it is a time to recognize your best one. 

What’s taken me until now, mid-March, to realize is that I am an active and enthusiastic participant in the project of shaping my life going forward. Graduation isn’t something that’s happening to me, at me. It’s a conclusion I’ve earned, and now I have the opportunity to begin new challenges and experiences. [This] class empowered me to feel like my career search (or lack thereof) was truly mine and I had more agency than I realized about the outcome. I’m now searching for jobs and trying to focus more on match-making, on skills I have to offer and others I might learn in specific jobs. Step by step, it’s becoming manageable and, dare I say, exciting.

**This person got a fantastic job in August after graduation.

There are many stages to this process, and there is no reason to feel behind. …The career center and the guest alumni are excellent resources that I highly encourage you to take advantage of.

It’s mid-March when I’m writing this and I don’t have a job yet. My thesis is due in 36 days and I have ZERO pages written. I took an accidental nap today that went too long by about two hours, and I am out of groceries. If you, like me, are somewhat stressed by this, I am here to tell you it’s actually not that big of a deal. Especially if you find yourself in a situation where you’re starting to feel anxious about not having concrete post-grad plans. While I certainly am feeling mild panic about all of the above, I also feel really confident about my next steps and that I know how to take those steps and am able to do so. Many, if not most, of my friends similarly don’t have jobs yet, or are struggling with classwork in the last semester. Some of the alumni I’ve spoken to or friends who have recently graduated tell me that they didn’t have jobs until even the week of graduation. Obviously, maybe these don’t seem like ideal situations, but things work out for nearly everyone. Going forward, I feel pretty good about my prospects of finishing my thesis and finding a job, even if I am stressed about it now, because I have concrete and actionable ideas about what I need to do in the coming days, weeks, and months. If you’re not where you want to be, but you know where you want to go and how to get there, I think that’s more than half the battle.

Ohhh hi there. Are you stressed? You must be a little bit, yes you, even you with the job, you must be a little bit stressed. I’m not 100% sure of this yet (we still have a few weeks until graduation), but I am pretty sure you will make it out alive. This class will help you dig deeper into yourself: embrace it, know that it will be scary, but you have to do this stuff eventually and there’s no time like the present. This isn’t very insightful but it’s true: keep chugging along but don’t get caught in the grind. Soak up everything. Do stuff right. You only get to do this last semester once. Do it well.

Senior year, and senior spring especially, can be a bit of a strange time – it is both happy and sad, exhilarating and frightening all at once. I am one of those seniors who as of March prior to graduation has yet to figure out what the next step will really look like. Although it is in some ways nerve-wracking and stress-inducing it is also okay…[I now] realize that things often have a way of working out, but that you must do the work to make sure you are ready for the opportunities when they come along.

During our time at Georgetown, we all grow immensely in one way or another. For me, I’ve become more organized, better at communicating with family and friends, and more well-rounded as a person. But no matter how much you grow during your four years, senior spring will come around and you will inevitably feel wholly unprepared to enter the real world as a young adult. Everyone I’ve spoken to, from the football players I live with, to the economics majors I study with, have shared this same sentiment. None of us feel ready–so don’t stress out about not feeling ready either.

Senior year really goes by quickly, so treasure every moment of it. You are almost at the finish line, keep on going strong!

Wear the black dress to graduation. 

I bought a graduation dress (yes, two months before graduation) and it’s all black and yes, this purchase is pertinent. On graduation day, the majority of my female peers will wear white or a soft pastel. 

Hardly anyone will be wearing black on a day with a celebratory feel in the middle of May, but I will. I could tell you I simply don’t like to wear white or pastel, which is rather true. But it’s deeper. Why do I need to feel like I fit in with the mass majority at Georgetown on my last day when I’ve never felt that way? 

It is easy to feel like you’re in a scramble as a second semester senior, but don’t lose you during this time. Don’t commit yourself to something ( a job, new city, internship) just because you want to have a plan and slip away from uncertainty. Don’t wear a pastel dress when you don’t like pastels. 

Comparison is the thief of joy. 

Admire your peers for their differences. 

Be proud of who you are and who you are becoming. 

Wear the black dress to graduation. 

Remember that everything will work out just fine, and take advantage of the wonderful and supportive community that is Georgetown – both students and faculty at Georgetown and alumni.

The spring semester will fly by, so make sure you are making a conscious effort to enjoy it rather than getting caught up in day-to-day stresses. The concerns that bog us down at Georgetown are often of very minor importance and can inhibit us from being appreciative of everything we have here. Don’t worry about jobs – things will pan out as the semester goes on, so stressing about that is a waste of energy. I would recommend taking advantage of the faculty and alumni networks fully, as they can help a lot with jobs and are much easier to maneuver while still a student.

Have fun and don’t sweat the small things. I know this is easier said than done, especially at Georgetown, but if there is any time in your college career to sit back and enjoy, it’s now! 

I love this short poem by Mary Oliver, called “Instructions for Living a Life”:

Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

Mary Oliver

Take it all in these last few months and tell about it — tell your story with confidence. Hoya saxa!

Senior year is a confusing time that can be full of growth and discovery if you want it to be. Make the most of your time with those around you and at this place we’ve called home for the last few years. Time really flies, so don’t wait to do the things you’ve wanted to do during your time here and take ownership of your story!

The best advice I can share about senior year has been taking the opportunity to be with friends. I know that Georgetown can feel like a pressure cooker, but my best experiences have been putting off work a bit to see friends I haven’t seen in a while and to overall just make the most of those around me. As for figuring out life post graduation, I remember it felt so intimidating at first but taking it one step at a time is the best way to go about it and in the end everything is worth it.

It’s supposed to be messy. It’s not supposed to make sense. It’s supposed to be true. Don’t be afraid of you. 

It’s hard because you want their to be some kind of structure for how you live your life, but I realized that so much of what I have experienced has been the result of me just stumbling across an opportunity that I did not plan for. So for now, I don’t have a job yet and I’m spending my summer abroad doing something completely different than anything I’ve ever done before, but I’m just gonna roll with it.

As it all draws to a close I think this is something I need to keep in mind as well– this is not the end. Yes, this is a huge transition time…but this is not a frantic rush to see all the people, do all the things. If you haven’t done it so far, it’s probably not that important or you’re just not that person, and that’s fine. There is still time to do what is important, and graduation is not an end. It is the beginning of so many new things but still a continuation of many things you’ve got going on now. Enjoy it!

Don’t forget to celebrate and congratulate yourself this senior year. You made it! You are here! You are (almost) finished. You accomplished more than you thought you would these past four years. You’ve grown and are becoming a new version of yourself drastically different from that 18 year old who drove up to Georgetown during NSO. Celebrate how far you’ve come, celebrate your resilience, celebrate the good memories, celebrate the fuzzy memories, especially celebrate the not so good memories because those serve as lessons that will follow us past Georgetown.

Above all please do not forget to celebrate with the people who have been with you on this journey and those who continuously support and cheer you on even from thousands of miles away. Honestly without their love and support who knows where we would be now?

Know that your story is unique and special, and thus has a lot to offer to others. I think sometimes some people, including myself, believe that some of their experiences are bland or not worth telling. Especially in the hyper-professional context of Georgetown, where so many people are concerned about getting a summer internship or a respectable, high-paying job, it is easy to lose confidence in your own story, or at least feel overwhelmed by the notable accomplishments of your classmate. But be sure to remember that your story is just as important and significant as anybody else’s.