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Making a Confident Transition

Hannah George


As a senior here at Purdue, my final semesters have gone by in a blur of late nights, last assignments, and laughter with friends. Amid the good times, each day that passes also reminds me that graduation is approaching, and the rest of my life with it. I’ve spent the past 22 years with school as a grounding force: it has determined my schedule, my knowledge, and even the people I spend time with. When May rolls around, that’s all going to change, something I don’t think I’ve yet been able to fully wrap my head around.

Hannah George with her cohort meeting up for a book discussion.

College does a great job preparing us for some of the challenges we’ll face after graduation. We learn the equations, theories and technical tools that we’ll use in the field, and we test our knowledge of relevant material time and again. Although I certainly don’t know everything, I feel relatively prepared for the technical tasks of an entry-level position.

However, when it comes to things like moving to a new city and finding community, living on my own for the first time, navigating non-technical workplace challenges, and building a balanced and healthy lifestyle while budgeting with a real paycheck, I suddenly feel much less prepared. There are so many skills that aren’t taught in school, and it feels like I’m expected to magically pick them up right away. This is a lot of pressure, and there’s a lot about transitioning to my first full-time job that I feel nervous about.

Stuck in a cloud of uncertainties and doing my best to figure out how I was going to prepare to graduate when I didn’t even know where I would be working, a way forward suddenly appeared in an unlikely place: my email inbox.

A Way Forward

The email in question had an intriguing subject line – “Confident Transitions” – a phrase that sounded like precisely what I was hoping for and precisely the opposite of how I was feeling. I was immediately interested. Reading further, I discovered that the opportunity in question was Confident Transitions, a program from the Brock-Wilson Center for Women in Business that helps senior women in the business school prepare for life after college with all of its challenges. It sounded like exactly what I had been needing, so I signed up on the spot.

When January rolled around, my last semester was underway and graduation just a few months off, and I still didn’t have a job lined up. I faced the stress of not knowing where I would be working or living. When I wasn’t in class, I was on job boards, sending in hundreds of applications and hoping that someone would give me a chance. In fact, I was probably sending in a job application when I got another email — this one reminding me to pick up the program materials before Confident Transitions’ first meeting.

Not sure what to expect, I made my way to the designated location, where I was greeted by assistant director of the Brock-Wilson Center Elizabeth Ventura. She was incredibly welcoming and immediately put me at ease as she handed me a swag bag with lots of cool stuff, including a Brock-Wilson tote bag, water bottle, planner and six books.

Pile of books given out to students to help with graduation: Influence is Your Superpower by Zoe Chance, Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff, Huddle by Brooke Baldwin, The Click Moment by Frans Johansson, and The Confidence Code by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman
Every month, we read a book about a topic that will help us succeed after graduation.

Six books! I’m pretty sure that’s an intimidating number for any busy college student, but Elizabeth explained that we would only be reading one a month, starting with The Confidence Code. Since then, we’ve read The Click Moment, Huddle, and Self-Compassion. Every month, my cohort gathered for dinner to discuss that month’s book and learn about helpful topics like budgeting, using our strengths and transitioning to life after college.

This is one of my favorite things about Confident Transitions — we don’t just focus on career success. Our wonderful program leaders are committed to giving us the tools to succeed both professionally and personally. Our meetings often include guest speakers who talk about topics like workplace strengths and weaknesses, budgeting, and translating college life to the post-college world.

Building Confidence

In each meeting, I’ve talked with different members of our 50-person cohort. Turns out a lot of people were starting the semester in the same place as me. Even those who’d lined up their first full-time job were still feeling unsure about how to navigate it. In our very first meeting, we did one-on-one peer coaching. My coach advised me to do what I had been thinking of doing for several months: reach out to my manager from my internship the previous summer. Just having someone else validate the idea made it seem so much more possible.

In fact, it was this very conversation during Confident Transitions that gave me the confidence to take that next step, which led to several more conversations with my internship manager and eventually a job offer!

Since our cohort first meeting, we’ve talked about building confidence in our everyday lives, seizing opportunities, learning to lean on and support our peers, budgeting with a full-time paycheck, and more. I’ve met others who will be working in the same city as me after graduation, and we’ve developed plans to get together for lunch once we get settled.

Hannah George with her cohort meeting for a book discussion.
Our cohort met in March to discuss Huddle by Brook Baldwin and learn about best practices for budgeting with a bigger paycheck.

In our most recent meeting, we talked about how life will change after graduation. Much of what we’ve taken for granted, like spending a lot of time with friends, living in a walkable area, having breaks in between classes, and getting involved in the community, will become more difficult after graduation. We identified the elements of our lives that we really enjoy and made a concrete plan for incorporating those elements into our lives after school. This might mean picking an organization to get involved with, identifying how to slot exercise into a busy schedule, or figuring out how to find friends in a new city. Having a plan based around what is important makes me feel much more equipped to transition successfully to a new lifestyle.

A New Chapter

At the end of the semester, we’ll all be given the opportunity to either conclude our time in the program or stick with it through December with virtual monthly meetings. We’ll also receive the next seven books on our 12-book list . Although I’m not at the end yet, I already know that I’ll be continuing with the program. I’ve reaped so many benefits from just the first four months, and I can’t wait to see what else the program has to offer. On top of that, I look forward to seeing where everyone else in the cohort ends up and hearing about their first work experiences.

Although I started my last semester with a mix of uncertainty and nervousness about what my future would hold, I now feel like I’m prepared to take on what comes my way, both personally and professionally. I have a job, a plan, and a network of other women who are going through the same thing. Whatever the next chapter holds, I’m ready to make the most of it.

If you’re a senior woman in business and you have the opportunity, consider joining Confident Transitions as you get ready for graduation. It will help you prepare to enter the workforce, move to a new place, live on your own, thrive in your career, and do all of that and more with confidence.

Hannah George

Hannah is a senior from Columbus, Indiana, studying marketing and English. During her time at Purdue, Hannah has served as team lead for the Purdue Marketing Association, vice president of Steps to Leaps Students, director of sustainability for Purdue Student Government, and project manager of the Griswold Undergraduate Research Internship. After graduation, she will be working full-time as an analyst for Angi (formerly Angie’s List) in Indianapolis, Indiana.

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