Life after Piedmont



Staff Writer

As you anxiously sit in your seat, waiting for your name to be called, you can’t believe after these few short years in college, you are finally done. Your name is called, you walked up onto the stage, take your diploma in your hands and think, “Now what?” 

The Navigator spoke with four graduates who gave insight into what it’s like entering the real world and the obstacles they faced after graduating from Piedmont College. 

In 2011, Tianashan Jones earned her B.A. in sociology and her masters in business administration in 2013. She is currently working at Gallagher Bassett Services in Atlanta, Ga. where she handles liability claims for clients. However, her first job was as a 911 operator. 

“I didn’t get a full-time job until September of 2013 after I graduated, and it wasn’t for me,” said Jones. “I was not prepared for how difficult it would be to land a job.”

Patrick Lyons, who graduated in May of 2014, also said it took him a while to find a job, and eventually, he landed a job in October of 2014 that he said he enjoys so far. 

“I am currently a media marketing strategist at a company in Norcross, Ga.,” said Lyons. 

Lyons said he was happy to study mass communications at Piedmont because it prepared him for several different career options that he said he was looking for. 

“So many amazing things have already come out of being a Piedmont Lion. While I didn’t always agree with certain rules and decisions Piedmont made about student life on campus, I do believe it prepared me for the real world,” said Lyons.

Another mass communications graduate Hillary Kelley said she overestimated how scary the real world actually was. 

“I know I had this impending doom mentality, and I put too much stock into thinking that the real world was so scary,” said Kelley. 

She earned her B.A. from Piedmont in May of 2014 and is currently part of the marketing team at Initials, Inc. in Clarkesville, Ga. She is head of the company’s social media and is overall marketing assistant. 

Kelley said she applied for numerous jobs and eventually applied to be Initials, Inc’s graphic designer. After her first interview, they called her back for a second interview and informed her that they had created a brand new position that mirrored her resume. 

“The integrated communications approach of the mass communications department provided me with not only a way to strengthen the skills I possess, but it allowed me to learn an incredible amount of new skills in different areas of communications,” said Kelley. 

For Zach Thomaswick, it didn’t take him long to find a job since he accepted a teaching job at Habersham ninth-grade academy before he graduated. He graduated in May of 2012, earning his B.S. in secondary mathematics education and then his M.A. in secondary mathematics education in 2014. 

Thomaswick said that Piedmont did prepare him for his current job because of his involvement on campus. 

“Working in residence life, especially, helped me gain a unique skill set that I can use in a variety of situations in life,” said Thomaswick. 

Thomaswick said that what he thinks most graduates underestimate is budgeting. 

“Beyond the costs they already have, they have to now take into account a wide array of expenses such as rent, utilities, groceries, etc.,” said Thomaswick. “From my experience, many Piedmont students live paycheck to paycheck, rather than having a budget and have a savings plan to help deal with any emergency situations.”

For Lyons, he said students today don’t want to put effort into making things happen. 

“Our generation is quite unique. It’s like we gather all of this information and form all of these desires and opinions, but then we don’t want to put in the effort to make all of them happen,” Lyons said. “In college, you have absences for class, have some mornings where you get to sleep in and so forth. In no way I am saying college is easy, but when you start a career, that is all gone. You don’t get to skip a day for no reason. You don’t have time for nearly as much social activity. That’s a reality that a lot of students aren’t ready for by age 22 or 23.”

Jones said she thinks graduates underestimate how tough the job market is. 

“I never thought I would work part time at a clothing store with a master’s degree,” she said. 

Kelley said that students should not hesitate to make their dreams come true, but also they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help. 

“You have the skills. Now, put them into practice, and you’ll go far,” she said. 

Jones’ advice for students is to enjoy every moment in college. 

“This may be the last time you live near any of your Piedmont friends,” she said. “I miss Piedmont, but I’m excited for what’s in store.”