The transition from the Grounds to the “real world” can be exhilarating for new graduates, but a list of practical considerations often tempers that excitement.
Finding a place to live, gaining a foothold in a career, making friends, shaping a new identity without sacrificing existing ties—the challenges can be daunting.
Help is available, however, through a UVA program called What’s Next?
“It’s an educational tool designed to make the transition from being a student to a new alumnus as seamless as possible,” says Mary Elizabeth Luzar, associate director for student and young alumni programs at the Alumni Association.
Through its website, emails, brochures and fliers, What’s Next? provides resources and practical advice on topics ranging from finding a job to locating apartments in major cities.
The process begins with two emails sent to fourth-years. Each welcomes them to the transition period and reminds them of the available services, which are listed at www.whatsnextuva.com. In April, the Cities Fair event helps students meet alumni from cities where they anticipate moving after graduation. Brochures, fliers and follow-up emails continue through Finals and their first six months, then the new grads come under the umbrella of the young alumni programs of the association.
Career services are a big part of What’s Next? In particular, the UCAN element of www.hoosonline.com combines the networking power of more than 20,000 alumni. In addition, young alumni can find UVaClubs in their area and get information about Alumni Interest Groups, student loans, handling finances, budgeting—even how to fill out tax forms.
Overall, it offers a set of keys to life after UVA. “We want this to be an initiative through which new alums feel that the University is continuing to help them after they graduate,” Luzar says.