Something happens when a Maryland Smith senior finishes that final exam, submits that final essay, and dons a cap and gown.
It is the moment, says Maryland Smith’s Victor Mullins, when they begin to write their stories. For the Spring 2020 graduating class, the book opens in a challenging time.
Navigating the unprecedented circumstances invoked by the coronavirus pandemic may prove difficult, Mullins says, but Maryland Smith graduates are prepared for what lies ahead.
“We’ve taught our students to understand their value proposition and to be enterprising in case the road ahead is bumpy,” says Mullins, associate dean for undergraduate programs at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. “Now, we’re in a real-life experiment where these lessons come into play.”
That’s one of the messages Mullins will share with Spring 2020 graduates this week during a seminar, “You’re Graduating: How To Create a Fulfilling Life After Smith.” He’ll be joined by Rajshree Agarwal, the Rudolph P. Lamone Chair and Professor in Entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland and director of the Ed Snider Center for Enterprise and Markets, and Sarah Wolek, director of the Intentional Life Lab.
Mullins says that graduates must know who they are before taking those next steps into the workforce. That means understanding the high value they can add to an organization.
“When leadership and teammates need to make decisions on who the real players are and who they can rely on, you have to be able to put yourself in the position where they need you,” says Mullins. “There are two ways to do this: You can take action and showcase your skills, which is visible, but you also need to be able to create a narrative to help people understand who you are and what you are capable of doing.”
Mullins also encourages graduates to think beyond that first job out of school. The job landscape is ever-changing, he says, and graduates entering their second or third year in a position may not have the same satisfaction they once had.
“When you have the material things you’ve always wanted but don’t possess the day-to-day fulfillment from your work, it could signify that it’s time to pivot,” says Mullins.
Maryland Smith graduates must take full control of their futures. This is the moment to apply the lessons they have learned and turn knowledge into action, he says.
“Life after college for us is having the students look more at themselves and at a world in which no one is telling them what to do,” says Mullins.
“They went through all of high school with a script and were given an idea of how to get a degree in college. Now they are responsible for choosing how they want to write the rest of their story.”