For students at Grand Valley State University, the path to a future career isn’t always set in stone. It can take time, commitment and a lot of sleepless nights to become successful.
To help students get started on planning their future careers in the business world, the GVSU Future Alumni Association (FAA) hosted a panel of GVSU graduates to answer common questions and hopefully provide insight into life after graduation.
The event, “Five Under 35: Business Professions,” took place Tuesday, Jan. 31, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the L. William Seidman Center. During the panel event, five former GVSU students sat down to have a discussion with a room of about 50 people.
“For me, I would say people have an idea of what the real world is,” said Chelsea Uphaus, marketing manager at ROUSH CleanTech. “It’s still no different. You’re still juggling a schedule, time and work.”
George Bosnjak, director of sales and business development at Great Lakes Health Connect, said students have a perception that people in positions of power are elite human beings, but in reality, they’re just normal people like everyone else. Bosnjak urged the crowd not to be afraid to speak to people after events or to people in positions of power in general. He said the key to being confident is not being afraid and standing up for oneself.
“Don’t settle,” Bosnjak said. “When a company is interviewing you, you are also interviewing them. Hold yourself to a high standard. Too often students find the pressure to get a job and could’ve had a better one if they were more patient.”
Aside from confidence, another common theme of the discussion was connections. Uphaus said connections with people are always very important. She said if she could talk to her younger self and give advice, it would be to form better bonds with professors.
Bosnjak got his first internship because of a suggestion from one of his professors, and through a snowball effect landed his current job many years later. Bosnjak said he’s never had a job in which he didn’t know at least one person at the company.
The panelists collectively agreed that students should seek out better connections. Bosnjak thinks it’s important to keep other things in mind after graduation as well.
“Presenting yourself in a professional manner is of crucial importance,” Bosnjak said. “In school you aren’t graded on your clothes, shoes or being professional, but in the professional world that matters.”
The panelists agreed having better connections, being confident and presenting oneself professionally can help GVSU students be more fully prepared for the professional world after graduation.