GradFest prepares current students, future alumni

GVL / Mikki Fujimori
Dan Dixon and Heather Dixon photograph Stephanie Labby at their Grad Fest Booth

Mikki Fujimori

GVL / Mikki Fujimori Dan Dixon and Heather Dixon photograph Stephanie Labby at their Grad Fest Booth

Lizzy Balboa

With the chaos and excitement of graduation already hanging over the local campuses, Grand Valley State University is preparing to launch a class of seniors among the ranks of more than 85,000 alumni.

Alumni Relations, Career Services, the Dean of Students Office, the Student Life Office, University Bookstores and a number of other organizations have partnered to host the 2012 winter GradFest Nov. 14-15 to serve the university’s graduating students and future alumni.

“GradFest is an opportunity for one-stop shopping for everything that’s graduation related,” said Chris Barbee, director of Alumni Relations. “(The offices) all work together to bring all these different resources together to make it easier for the graduates so they don’t have to go all around campus to get everything that they need to graduate. It’s really an opportunity to celebrate a special time in their lives, so we want it to be festive and not high pressure.”

Graduating students can attend the second day of GradFest in the Loosemore Auditorium from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. to pick up their caps, gowns and 10 tickets to the ceremony. Those who could not attend can pick up the required materials at either the downtown or Allendale Campus bookstores any day before graduation. For more tickets, students are encouraged to speak with other seniors who may be using fewer than their allotted 10.

GradFest not only provides students the cloth and tassel for the ceremony, but also advice to succeed after the Pomp and Circumstance fades.

Stephanie Dombrowski, assistant director of Career Services, said students should have begun to prepare for life after graduation during freshman year, but her office will assist students who wait until the end. “We can help you get your resume targeted to the industry you want to go to, whether it be for an internship or for work or for grad school,” Dombrowski said.

Barbee advised graduating students to be prepared for opportunities that may arise by having resumes and cover letters ready and up-to-date. “Now that you know you’re graduating, have everything ready to go so that if someone calls you or emails you, you can send it immediately to have it in their hands,” he said. “You never want to give up that opportunity to take advantage of a situation that comes your way. Being prepared and ready to go I think is the best advice I can give.”

Sara Sabo of Alumni Relations advised students to use connections and network. “If you are having trouble, just get out and meet more people,” Sabo said. “You never know who you’re going to run into and what kind of connections they’re going to have.”

Dombrowski and Barbee both invited all graduating students to join the LinkedIn account for alumni.

“We tend to look out for each other, and again that’s another Laker for a Lifetime quality that Lakers have, and that’s something that we encourage people to do is get on there and network with other Grand Valley graduates,” Barbee said. “It’s a great opportunity to be recognized by those that have Grand Valley degrees.”

The graduation ceremony is by no means the end of the line for Lakers, who have the university resources at their fingertips for a lifetime.

GradFest teaches students how to stay connected to the university after graduation, how to use Career Services as a resource for employment assistance, how to network with other alumni, and how to give back to GVSU “so that you remain a Laker for a Lifetime,” Barbee said.

“It’s an exciting time and we hope that everyone who comes through GradFest remembers their fun times and the good times at Grand Valley,” he added. “This isn’t the end of your association with Grand Valley. We want everyone who walks across that stage on graduation day to know that this isn’t the end. As I said before, you’re a Laker for a Lifetime.”

Questions about graduation can be addressed to one of the sponsoring offices.
[email protected]