Among the perks of attending a major university is the vast amount of resources available to students — and only to students. Before you haul outta here, diploma in hand, make sure you take advantage of at least some of these resources. You'll be glad you did.
Perhaps the most obvious resource is the Career Services office in the C4C. Career Services provides everything from self-improvement workshops to career counseling, and they give you access to Career Buffs, their massive jobs database.
Kelly Anderson, a chemical engineering major who graduated in May, said she regularly checked Career Buffs as a student looking for internships.
"If it weren't for the on-campus Career Services, I wouldn't have gotten an interview for an internship with ConocoPhillips," she said. Because of her internship, Anderson now works full-time for ConocoPhillips in Montana.
While it's best to get a jump-start on searching and applying for jobs, Career Services offers support to alumni, too. Their website, careerservices.colorado.edu, includes a list of alumni-specific resources, including two alumni career counselors available on staff.
Many graduating seniors see their advisors as simply someone to sign their grad forms, releasing them from the institution's academic grip. However, academic advisors can play a huge role in helping seniors get through their final semesters.
Kathryn Goggin, a May 2013 graduate in broadcast production, regularly spoke with her advisor, who helped her stay on track with school.
"He was helpful and encouraging, and he helped me make better decisions I otherwise might not have made," she explained. Goggin now works full-time as a special events coordinator with the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce.
Some departments and schools have staff members dedicated to getting grads hired. McKenzie Binder, a marketing and finance major who graduated just last month, spent a lot of time with the career services liaison in the Leeds School of Business.
"I've gotten quite a few interviews out of it, but no jobs yet," she said. However, Binder is looking for a job in a specific city, which narrows her options, she said.
Senior year can take a stressful toll on many students. CU's Counseling and Psychological Services, or CAPS, has a number of resources available for Buffs, including group workshops and one-on-one counseling sessions. Students have access to six free counseling sessions per academic year, not including the initial intake session.
Goggin used CAPS last spring and found it helpful to have an outlet.
"I was more stressed and overwhelmed than ever and was having trouble sleeping and headaches," she said. "It was nice to talk to a counselor there to try and pinpoint what was causing my anxiety."
Lately, getting a job is less about having a stellar GPA and more about knowing the right people. Networking on and off campus can play a key role in forming your after-graduation plans.
CU offers a number of opportunities for students to network, from hosting events like the Boulder-Denver New Tech meetup to student groups planning cross-campus mixers. Anderson, the grad working for ConocoPhillips, said she wishes she had been more involved with the Society of Women in Engineering, which provides networking opportunities directly to its members.
Many students take their rec center memberships for granted and end up facing steep gym membership fees once they decide to get fit after graduation.
Sarah Sherman, a senior pre-med sociology major, goes to the rec center almost every day.
"I actually hadn't used it much before this year, and I was a little shocked at all the money going into the renovations," she said. "But after I went to one of the fitness classes during free week this fall, I was pleasantly surprised and bought the 'be fit' pass."
Sherman said she's found the rec center to be a useful resource as she works to meet her fitness goals. Establishing a routine now can ensure you get your money's worth at whichever gym you join after you graduate.
CU's Program Council regularly brings entertainment to Buffs, from music and movies to stand-up comedy shows. Jordyn Figiel, a senior marketing major and Program Council's office manager, says students should get excited about the events coming to campus this semester.
"I can't share anything specific, but I can definitely tell you to keep your ears and eyes open," Figiel said. "We seniors in the office are planning on going out with a bang."
Since many Program Council events are available only to students — or are more expensive for non-students — soon-to-be grads should take advantage of everything Program Council has to offer. Figiel says students can learn more about events by following Program Council on Facebook or Twitter, where they're often posting, but you should drop by in real life, too.
"We also love to have visitors up in our office, so students can come on by UMC 401 to learn more about what we have going on."
Aside from simply being valuable resources for students to use, taking advantage of these opportunities is also economically advantageous, since most of these programs are paid for by students' tuition and fees.
"I think making use of these resources helps you feel like you're getting more out of your tuition — because you are," said Sherman. "If you're paying for all this stuff, why not use it?"
Jess Ryan is a community manager and CU grad. Her "Nerd Among the Herd" column appears on Wednesdays in the Colorado Daily. Follow her on Twitter: twitter.com/JessicaLRyan.