Islander Alumni Share Their Post-Grad Experiences

Student Feature, Sydney Spangler | Published: May 14, 2019

Islander Alumni Share Their Post-Grad Experiences

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – You’ve survived years of endless essays, mountains of homework, dreaded group projects, and nerve-wracking exams, and now it’s finally time to transition from a student to a valued member of the workforce. To provide some insight, we’ve reached out to Islander alumni to share their post-graduate experiences.

DeVonte Thompson, a recent graduate from 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts in English, now works as an AP Language and Composition teacher at YES Prep East End in Houston, TX. During his final semester as an Islander student, he interviewed and applied for jobs in the teaching field. According to Thompson, graduating students should explore their desired industry early and make connections with professionals so they can get into their preferred career.

“Job hunting was one of the scariest things,” Thompson said. “It was tough trying to interview, complete schoolwork, and keep a personal life. New graduates should enjoy this time of celebration and be confident in the great accomplishment they achieved. Don’t forget the worth of your education.”

Prior to graduation, Thompson completed a summer internship with Breakthrough Collaborative, a nonprofit education organization that works with students from under-resourced communities, and worked on the Islander campus for the Office of Recruitment and Admissions. He says the internship opened the door for him as a future teacher.

International student Veronica Pierola-Suzuki graduated in 2018 with a Master of Art in Communication at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Originally from Peru, Pierola-Suzuki faced unique barriers before entering the job market. International students are required to apply for the Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) within 60 days after the graduation date or up to 90 days prior to the graduation date. A student has 90 days to find a job once the OPT is approved. It’s a race against the clock, Pierola-Suzuki said.

“Most international and domestic students feel uncertain about going out of the comfort zone of school after graduation,” Pierola-Suzuki said, “but, as an international student I felt a lot of uneasiness. I applied to hundreds of jobs on a daily basis with the fear of being rejected because of my status. Even if I was a good fit, I couldn’t work because I didn’t have my OPT yet.”

During her unemployment period, Pierola-Suzuki visited job fairs, researched companies that work with international students, and attended networking events. 

“I met several people at networking events in the same situation as me,” Pierola-Suzuki said. “We could contact each other to exchange job opportunities, and they became my emotional support because I knew I wasn’t alone in this process.”

Another international student, Victoria Anez, graduated in 2018 with a Bachelor of Business Administration in both Economics and Management. During her senior year, Anez worked on several projects that helped her transition into her focus – hospitality management. While Anez waited for her papers, she interned with the Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce, built a reputation, networked, and practiced her language and communication skills.

“What I could do was very limited,” she said. “I didn’t get paid, but my internship helped me create my image in the Corpus Christi community.”

According to Anez, interning or volunteering your time is a valuable experience while in-between jobs because you gain knowledge you wouldn’t typically learn in a classroom. She also says that these experiences forge relationships that last a lifetime. Now, Anez works in her desired field as the assistant front office manager for Omni Hotels & Resorts. 

“It’s not just a matter of working for a living,” Anez said. “Find your passion. You should be happy in what you are doing. If you’re happy in your field, you’re never going to work a day in your life and that’s where the purest success comes from.”
Additional Information

Career Services offers current students and Islander alumni a variety of resources such as job fairs, resume reviews, and mock interviews. It is located on the third floor of the University Center and is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. To schedule an appointment to meet with a career counselor, call 361.825.2628 or email career.services@tamucc.edu.