Whether it’s taking a post-class nap on the quad, sipping on an afternoon blue cup at He’s Not Here or climbing the 128 steps to the top of the Bell Tower, seniors across campus are doing their best to relish their last few days in Chapel Hill.
With graduation just 16 days away, the doom and gloom of the real world is inching closer and closer for the class of 2018.
Soon enough, waiting in line for hours at UNC basketball games will be replaced with waiting in line for hours to check out at Harris Teeter. Wild spring breaks in Cancun will turn into wild spring cleaning in your 36 square-foot apartment.
But no matter how hard seniors fight it, graduation isn’t going anywhere, and neither is the adulthood greeting them with a handshake and diploma just across that stage.
Sue Harbour, the associate director of University Career Services, takes it upon herself to make sure students find success after graduation.
“We provide opportunities for students to learn how to effectively run a job search or internship search,” Harbour said. “And that means being prepared, having a stellar resume, knowing how to interview effectively, cleaning up their professional image and how to network.”
This year, UCS put on 12 career fairs, hosted 253 companies for recruiting events and held 4,238 on-campus interviews for internships or full-time jobs.
In the class of 2017, 62.6 percent of students knew exactly what they would be doing within six months of graduation.
Bryana Nguyen, a senior media and journalism major, doesn’t share that same sense of security when it comes to her post-grad life.
After graduation, Nguyen will be traveling to Vietnam for four weeks to teach children how to speak English and play sports. Nguyen doesn’t know exactly what life will have in store for her beyond the next month, so she isn’t in much of a rush to leave.
“I’m definitely trying to do as much as I can, whether it’s something with senior week going on around campus,” Nguyen said. “I’ve been trying to get involved in as much as I can, and that might mean different things for different people.”
Nguyen is trying hard to make sure she remembers every detail of her last year in Chapel Hill.
“I decided at the start of my senior year to take a one second video every day, and I haven’t missed a day since August,” Nguyen said. “After each month goes by, I post it, and each caption gets more and more sad because I’m getting really sad about graduating.”
McKee Hornor, a senior business administration major, can’t quite decide how he feels about leaving the place he’s called home the last four years.
“It’s a mix of emotions, bittersweet, I guess,” Hornor said. “Excited because it’s a whole new phase of life, a lot of new and fun things to come, but sad to leave the people and the places I’ve come to know for four years.”
After graduation, Hornor will head to Chicago and work for Newell Brands, a brand management firm. While Hornor is ready to enter the real world, he’s less excited about the new responsibilities that come with the transition.
“While I am thankfully employed, I’m still worried about how to navigate the nuances of finance, like insurance and rent and utilities,” Hornor said.
But Harbour said there’s not much to worry about for UNC graduates when it comes to finance. According to data from the class of 2017, the average starting salary was just over $55,000.
One of the biggest tools graduating seniors can use to help find employment is the UNC alumni group on LinkedIn, which has more than 33,000 members, Harbour said.
“If there’s one thing students learn after spending two to four years here, it’s that UNC is a community that helps each other,” Harbour said. “Just knowing that someone who graduated 10 years ago still loves connecting with current students and wants to help them in any way they can, that’s something students today should use to their advantage.”
Right now, the real world still seems far away, but Hornor knows things will become much more real in the coming days as he and his friends head their different ways.
Until then, like everyone else preparing to don their Carolina blue caps and gowns, Hornor is doing his best to savor his last few days in the Southern part of heaven.
“I’m trying to push through all the amount of work I have remaining, so that I have free time at night to spend with my friends and housemates,” Hornor said.
As Andy Bernard from “The Office” once said, “I wish there was a way to know you're in the good old days before you've actually left them.”
These are the good old days, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still plenty to come.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.