Tracy Rosario graduated from San Jose State University in 2008 with a Master’s degree in Industrial/Organizational (I/O) Psychology. During her time at SJSU, she interned in the HR department at Applied Materials and then eventually took a full-time position with Visa in the Talent Acquisition department. We had a chance to talk with her about what she has learned over her past two years out of school. The following is our conversation:
1. What were the key skills that you developed at SJSU that you feel transferred best into the working world?
The development of professional relationships was very important during my graduate school years. Our I/O Psych professors put in a lot of effort to make sure we had face to face time with I/O Alumni who had successful careers in various industries. The Career Center was another great resource that provided a lot of techniques on building a professional network. There are a lot of opportunities at SJSU to fine tune your professional demeanor. As a student, it helped me during the sometimes awkward transition of student to professional.
2. What are some of the key skills that you learned on the job?
One key skill I learned is to have a pretty good idea of how much your job is worth. Negotiation is tricky for recent college grads, especially during the current economy as students flock to their first job offer. If you have the opportunity, apply for more than one position and do some market research on the competitive pay for your skills. Work on your negotiation skills!
3. Looking back at the beginning of your career, what do you wish you knew then that you know now?
If I could have a conversation with myself as a freshman I would say to slow down a bit. College is fun and very different than the working world, there are dynamics of the college life that you may never get again, so enjoy it while its there – even through the pain of term papers and finals. Also, I would tell myself to make an after graduation plan, taking into consideration break time, vacation time (e.g.., backpacking in Europe), and the ideal time to make yourself available for your first full-time job after college. Ask yourself questions like: What would this plan look like on a calendar? How much money would I need to save and / or borrow on loan? How would I pay it back? Organizing your personal and professional goals in this matter will help you plan for the things you want as your graduation date gets closer.
4. What advice would you give to recent grads and current students who will be entering the work force?
Don’t let the state of the economy deter you from what you really want to do. Use these slower times to get a clearer focus on your goals and what really makes you happy. If you are having trouble finding a job related to your career, take an alternative part or full-time job and use your extra time to enroll in classes that interest you that you were not able to take during your undergraduate or graduate years.
Tracy mentions some great points surrounding the transition from college to career; create a plan, pursue a passion, and know what you are worth. If you aren’t sure where to start in identifying these things for yourself, be sure to visit the career center–we’re here to help you along your career path even before you graduate. Want to get started now? Check out these two on-line tools which can give you some more information:
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics has information on Occupational Employment Statistics, which includes wage estimates for over 800 occupations.
- Exploring Majors and Careers tutorial if you want to examine different career paths for yourself.