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Life after graduation: Advice from a soon-to-be graduate and UMKC alum


Dwelling on what life will look like after graduation is a common feeling for many college students, especially Belal Rhaimeh, a UMKC communication studies major set to graduate in December.

However, the stress of his final semester and landing a job are just some of the difficulties he once shared with UMKC alum, Andrew Mcilvaine, who assures students that everything will fall into place through hard work and determination.

“Because we’re graduating, we have to know like, in such a short time, what we’re doing,” Rhaimeh said. “Because if we don’t have that job ready once we graduate, we’re just sitting ducks.”

Students who are qualified to graduate in December are allowed to walk in the commencement ceremony before final grades are posted. However, attending the commencement ceremony does not imply the student has completed their degree and graduated.

“It’s just a lot of pressure to make sure you’ve got everything completed before you graduate,” Rhaimeh said.

He has applied to two jobs relating to his major and realized the likelihood of not being hired.

“I know it will come. I am prepared for it because it’s very competitive,” Rhaimeh said. “My major is very competitive, and there’s a lot of people that have double majors with emphases and all that, so I know it’s not going to be easy.”

Rhaimeh’s family owns a business, and he considered working for them if he is not able to find a job. He has been involved in the business industry since he moved to America, helping run his family’s store, and this has always been his backup.

As Rhaimeh finishes his last few months at UMKC, he advised students to not stress themselves out if they feel pressured.

“If you do stress and you push everything, you’re going to regret it,” Rhaimeh said. “Be patient with everything you do, and press the pause button.”

Andrew Mcilvaine graduated from UMKC in 2016 with a bachelor’s in studio arts. He received his master’s of fine arts in painting and drawing from Washington University in St. Louis in 2018. Mcilvaine reflected on his post-graduate experience and said it has been rewarding so far. 

After earning his degrees, he returned to Kansas City and was offered a job at MCC Penn Valley. During his time there, he turned a part-time adjunct job into a full-time job teaching art history, drawing, printmaking and color theory.

“On top of that, UMKC offered me a job teaching drawing,” Mcilvaine said. “I was lucky to get a job in the field I wanted right after graduate school, especially considering my age.”

He urged students who are about to graduate to continue working hard and to build as many relationships with their peers and professors. They should not underestimate mentorships nor be afraid to pursue a career that seems risky.

“Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and ask questions,” Mcilvaine said. “Learn as much as you possibly can, and take advantage of all the resources colleges provide.”

His final piece of advice to future graduates is to plan ahead real-world goals, no matter how big or small.

“Maybe it’s a goal to achieve a promotion at work or to visit a destination,” Mcilvaine said. “Whatever it might be, try to push yourself to achieve your goals.”

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