After a productive and fun summer, senior year is now in full speed. I can’t believe that my time in college is nearly up! It is fairly intimidating to think that I won’t be in university anymore, and instead, I’ll have to be able to financially support myself. Senior year can be thought of as the end of a period in life, but also the start of another. The transition from being in university to working and supporting oneself is a drastic one, and there are a lot of things to consider before graduation. At the same time, you only experience being a senior in university once in your life, and it’s important to make sure that at the end of the day, you are having fun.
“What are you going to do with your life? “
I’m sure any other senior will agree with me when I say that the “What are you going to do with your life?” question is such a dreadful one. If I got ten dollars every time someone asked me that question, I’m pretty sure I’d be rich by now. Even if you’ve already figured your life out—you know where you want to live, what kind of company you want to work in, what kind of profession you want to pursue, when you want to get married, who you want to marry, and all those complicated and philosophical questions—executing all your plans and making sure everything happens according to plan is never all that easy. On that note, life is always full of challenges, and you can never know how your life will pan out. Most of the people I know have told me to “take it easy” and “don’t stress out about it too much. “ I guess their point is not to worry if you don’t have your life figured out yet; life is a learning experience!
Applying for jobs
Like a lot of other seniors, I have been doing some job searching in the past couple of weeks. The aim of going to college, aside from learning about something you are truly passionate about, is to be qualified enough to find jobs. No one wants to graduate from university and still be job-less, so it’s important to start the job search early. Already having a job offer before graduating will be like having a really heavy burden lifted off of you. Last week, Brown University had career fairs, which is where a bunch of different companies visit campus to recruit students for both full-time jobs as well as internships. Of course, not all students get jobs through career fairs (some may already have full-time return offers, some may apply online, some may apply through referrals). But career fairs are certainly a great opportunity to network with recruiters as well as employees at different companies. Not to mention the fact that most companies bring swag (“stuff we all get”)! Last week, I got four t-shirts, a pen, a notebook, as well as a card reader from the career fair.
For international students looking for jobs in the United States, there’s that extra step of going through immigration, as you need to have a work visa in order to be able to work in the U.S. legally. Job options are thus slightly more limited for international students, as not all companies offer sponsorship. The work visa foreign nationals use to work in the U.S. is the H1-B visa. Here’s the tricky part: since the demand for H1-B visas is so high, there’s a cap on the number of H1-B visas the United States Center for Immigration Services (USCIS) issues each year. USCIS issues 65,000 visas for individuals with bachelor’s degrees, and 20,000 for individuals with at least a master’s degree. However, in this year’s filing period, there were at 172,500 H1-B petitions for both categories combined, which means that less than 50% of individuals petitioning for a H1-B visa end up getting one. Thankfully, as a student on the F-1 visa, I get 12 months of OPT (Optional Practical Training), which I can use after I graduate. For students working in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) field, the OPT can be extended to a 17 month period, which at least gives some time for me to work here in the U.S. All of these visa-related issues are very complicated, and it is best to consult this with people who have more knowledge and experience in immigration matters.
Fulfilling major/concentration requirements
The university I am currently attending—Brown University—has what we call the Open Curriculum, which basically states that students should only have to take classes that interest them. This results in a fairly relaxed graduation requirement here at Brown, which means that I am pretty much on track to receive my bachelor’s degree at the end of this academic year. However, students at other universities might have to deal with stricter graduation requirements, and it is definitely important to make sure that you are taking the right classes needed to graduate. You don’t want to wait until the end of the year to realize that you should’ve taken class A instead of class B. Consult with your academic advisor regarding which classes you should take, and make sure you are fulfilling all your graduation requirements!
Have fun, and make the most out of senior year
Last but not least, despite all the tough decisions you have to make during senior year, don’t forget to have fun. Even if you decide to further your education and obtain a master’s or PhD, this will still be the last year you get to live the university life: live on campus, eat in the dining halls, watch a cappella performances during the weekends, hang out in your friend’s rooms on Friday nights and just generally have fun. You only experience this once in your life, so make the most out of it!
Indira Pranabudi is an international student alumna of Green River Community College. She is currently studying computer science at Brown University. Indira is also a Student Contributor at U.S. News & World Report.