They have studied for four years—or more—and the time has come for hearing “Pomp and Circumstance,” turning the tassels on their mortarboards, and finding a job.
Many Saint Leo University students already have secured a position in their chosen field, but others are beginning the hunt. The university’s graduates enter a “hot” job market, with 428,000 jobs added in April, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But a job can be more than just work—it can bring fulfillment and personal growth.
Saint Leo faculty members from each of the university’s four colleges and the School of Computing, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and Data Science (CARDS) were asked to share their career advice for graduating students:
Humility is key
“If I were to give advice to graduating students, I would share what I appreciated hearing when I graduated,” said Dr. Randall Woodard, chair of the Department of Philosophy, Religion, and Theology. “A mentor reminded me that my learning had just begun. I was to become a lifelong learner in terms of discipline, specific knowledge, work ethic, personal relationships, wisdom, and my life of faith. Humility was the key to continued learning and growth."
For Christina Cazanave, director of field education and instructor for the Undergraduate Social Work Program, the advice is to practice self-care, which encompasses Saint Leo’s focus on growth in mind, body, and spirit.
“Your career will sometimes make you forget what is most important—LIVING,” Cazanave said. “To avoid being chained to your desk, commit to self-care practices that enhance your mind, body, and spirit. Self-care of the mind allows you to maintain a positive and compassionate view of yourself. We are often the harshest critic if we allow stress to build up.
“Self-care of the body is like a car,” she continued. “You routinely put gas in your car and take it to the mechanic for tune-ups. Our bodies require the same, and we must be listening to our internal engine. Self-care of the spirit ignites an inner passion and resonates joy without sacrifice. Have all three, and you will enjoy a career/life balance.”
Path of discovery
“Find something you love by discovering yourself,” advised Maria Augustus, instructor of mathematics, who also is a Saint Leo University alumna, Class of 2011. “Consider the path of finding the right career/job as a journey to also getting to know yourself as you adjust to the changes of adulthood. Figure out what you have to offer, what makes you marketable, and what will keep your interest. Continue learning and stay positive!” Make an investment in you
Dr. Lionel Thomas advises graduates to, “never stop investing in yourself.” It is called commencement, “because it is the beginning of your journey after you have made your first investment in yourself,” said the associate professor of international hospitality, hotels, and event management. “Use those tools to help you determine what other tools you need.”
Find what it is that you love to do, Thomas said. “Work-life balance should always be factored into any employment equation. In a perfect world, your work will be what you love. Until you achieve that, give yourself the best opportunity to be great at whatever situation you are in. And don’t forget your core values. They are not just catchy words. Continue to let them guide your behaviors and decisions.”
What employers want
Saint Leo University’s Career Services offers advice for students and alumni throughout the year, but especially at commencement time, the office is assisting jobseekers. Tips for new graduates include having their résumé evaluated, participating in mock interviews—virtual and in-person, preparing a business-ready wardrobe to make a good impression, creating profiles on LinkedIn and Saint Leo’s Handshake platform, and following up with an employer after an interview. For more information about services, programs, and resources Career Services has available, email us at CareerServices@saintleo.edu or call (352) 588-8346.
One last bit of advice
When it comes to finding a job, a career, just living life, Dr. Debra Peterson, chair of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program, said, “a word of advice I can give to anyone graduating is to never stop learning.”