Terry Alumni Blog: Adulting 101
Has it really been two years?! For you fresher Tech Terry faces out there, allow me to introduce myself. I'm Rachel Murdy, 2012 TTU Terry, former Technical Communications student, current Southwest Airlines employee living in Dallas. I graduated December 2015, but you may have seen me around since I’ve been known to jet-set to Lubbock for Terry events.
Since the Terry program is fairly new out in Raiderland, I thought I'd share with you a bit of what it's like in that enigmatic world post-graduation.
I consider myself to be extremely fortunate to have walked out of the USA two years ago with not only a diploma, but also a job. I work for Southwest in the department that creates and manages manuals. I started my time here as an intern, and quickly felt at home. Here at Southwest, we operate based on three core values: a Warrior’s Spirit, Servant’s Heart, and Fun-LUVing Attitude. I think these correlate nicely with the Terry values of service, leadership, and community. If a company was to be made entirely of Terry Scholars, it would look a lot like Southwest Airlines.
Anyway, that brings me to my first two pieces of advice for you, which really apply more to you guys still in college:
1) Start moving toward your career early. You have been given an incredible gift by the Terry Foundation: time that you don’t have to spend working to pay for college. Use it to build your resume with activities, hobbies, student organizations, and skills that set you apart from the other job candidates.
My junior year of college, I made the decision to work on top of my studies—not because I needed the money (which went primarily to building a professional wardrobe) but because I wanted the work experience. I worked for Texas Tech University Press for three semesters, and learned skills I couldn’t have developed in the classroom. From there, I was competitive for the Southwest internship, and that opportunity led to my full-time employment.
2) Know what you are looking for in a job. I am extremely spoiled by my employer. We value employees first, and that is reflected in the core values I mentioned earlier. We have great benefits, including standby travel privileges which allow me to swing by Lubbock to see you fine folks. Another great thing about my role is that it awards me great work-life balance. This quality is not always advertised on a job posting, so it may take some asking around to figure out if the employer will work you long hours or honor a set schedule. Although I had it easy, it’s important to know what you are and are not willing to compromise. Make sure you are looking at the whole picture, beyond salary, and ask intelligent questions in an interview.
So you’ve landed a job, what now? You know that work-life balance I mentioned above? Turns out that was a little overwhelming to me at first. I went from having an overcrowded planner to having nothing to do after work. I won’t lie to y’all—at first I watched a TON of Netflix, and basically caught up after years of sleep deprivation. Although I remain well-rested, I’ve learned to be wiser with my free time.
Here are some of the things I recommend to keep from going insane while adulting:
3) Find a new community. Some of you might have this easier if you move back home or stay in the Lubbock area after graduation. But I moved to a new city knowing very few people, and no one tells you how hard it can be to meet people after college. So my advice to you is get involved in something—sports, church, the arts—something that can help you make new connections. I’m fortunate to have also met many friends through work, but you can’t count on working with people around your same age.
4) Stay in touch with family and friends. I’m almost cheating here, but remember those free flights I mentioned? I was gone one out of every three weekends my first year on the job, and most of that was to see family and friends who lived elsewhere. Another third of those weekends, someone came to see me. There’s something so exciting about seeing old friends taking on new adventures, so don’t forget to call every once and a while, and go visit when you can!
5) Develop a hobby. Before I switched to Technical Communications, I was a Creative Writing major. In college, I was so busy with assignments I never took time to write creatively for myself. Now I keep a travel blog and have a couple other writing projects underway. Even if they never see the light of day, these help me retain my sanity and express myself creativity. I also read for pleasure way more than I could in college, and I explore new cities when the flights allow. Whatever it is for you, find something you are passionate about that you didn’t have time for before, and go for it!
6) Create healthy habits. So sleeping a decent amount is clearly important to me, but I’ve also taken steps to stay active. The perimeter of my office building is a half-mile, and I try to take a couple laps a day as my workload allows, and supplement with other activities as needed. I’ve also learned to cook for myself, done an elimination diet to identify any agitators to my allergy-prone self, and am now feeling better than I have in years. So while you have time, make sure you are setting yourself up for healthy living.
7) Don’t neglect your leadership abilities. We are all Terry Scholars for a reason. Find an outlet to give back where you are, and don’t plateau while you are working your way up in the workforce. Last year, I mentored a college student I met in Dallas. This year, I’ve started leading a home group through my church. No matter what it is, continue helping people and developing your leadership skills.
8) Don’t forget that the Terry Foundation made it possible. Another way to give back is by serving on interview panels, attending events, and being available to students. We all made a promise to give back when selected as Scholars, so don’t forget you will always have a Terry Family!
Wreck ‘em and Terry love,