From Student to Professional: Rachael Hanel

Graduating and job searching can be stressful and confusing. Where do you start? How do people actually land a job? Is there a right way to do this? It can become overwhelming. You may feel like you’re the only one who is facing this challenge, but other people feel the same way you do. They’re asking the same questions and dealing with the same worries.

The Career Development Center has been asking some of those exact questions of people who have been there and done that: your professors. They shared their stories about transitioning from student to entry-level employee and gave some advice to students who are starting their job search, graduating, or thinking about life after college.

Rachael Hanel, Assistant Professor of Mass Media
Rachael Hanel, Assistant Professor, Department of Mass Media

Check out what Rachael Hanel, Professor of Mass Media, had to say about her experience going from full-time student into the workforce.


Career Development Center: What was your first entry-level job after college?

Rachael Hanel: I went into journalism right away, so I started at the Mankato Free Press. Actually, it was a couple months before graduation. I felt pretty lucky. I had been working there part-time so they knew me, and they knew I was a good worker, so even a couple of months before I got my degree they hired me on full-time as a reporter. That was my first entry level job.

C.D.C.: What was the transition like for you going from a student into the workforce?

R.H.: You know it was really pretty smooth and I think that it helped that I was working at the newspaper already. I knew the people and I knew the culture. I was ready I think. You go to school for years and you just kind of get itchy to you know, “I just want to work or I want to be able to now apply my skills,” so I felt like it was a pretty smooth transition. I felt ready at that point to be working and to kind of be done with school.

C.D.C.: Do you think it made kind of a difference the fact that you already knew some people going into it?

R.H.: It really did. That’s something I try to tell my own students. How valuable those internships are. How valuable it is to look for that kind of part-time work, maybe part-time jobs, in the field you want to get into. You get a taste of it. And if you’re a good worker and they have room for you, it’s a really easy way to make that transition from school into full-time work if you can already start building those connections while in school

C.D.C.: What is one thing you wish you would have known when trying to find a job and get into the workforce?

R.H.: That’s a good question because I felt so lucky almost that it wasn’t a problem. I really don’t feel like anything kind of tripped me up. I felt pretty well prepared through my coursework and being able to work in that field already. So with that smooth transition, I felt like I must have done things right.

C.D.C.: So was the transition getting back into school any different then afterward?

R.H.: You know it wasn’t. I guess I really only ended up taking nine months off. I graduated in December of ’97 and then went back to do the master’s program that following fall semester, so it was in August of ’98. I always really liked school, so I was more than happy to be able to go back to school and take classes again. I did that while I was working because I didn’t have the option to just quit work and go back to school. That was all just a matter of balance, but I did my undergrad career balancing everything too so that wasn’t a problem or issue.

C.D.C.: Do you have any advice for college students who are about to go out in the workforce?

R.H.: Just make those connections now. Find those internships. Find those part-time jobs. And maybe it’s not a super obvious job that you think relates to something that you are going to do later, but any job where you can just be building general skills, like communication or working with customers, all of those skills are going to be so important when you are looking for a job in your field. So just the more experience you can do in college outside of the classroom. Maybe it’s an extracurricular activity. Maybe it’s getting involved in an organization. Just make sure that there’s plenty of other things you’re doing besides just your coursework because that real learning happens on the job or happens in organizations where you have to work with other people. That’s really the crucial part.

If you are interested in discussing more options after college stop by the Career Development Center from 1-4 PM for QuickStop or make an appointment. We’ll be happy to help you with any job searching, grad school, interviewing questions, and more!


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