Quelling the Graduation Freak-Out

This is my last term at Ooligan, so naturally the thing I’m thinking about the most is graduation. In order to graduate, Ooligan students must compile a portfolio of their best work, which usually takes the form of a personal website; write a fifteen-page research paper on the publishing-related topic of their choosing (with advisor approval); and complete an oral exam, which to my understanding is really just an hour-long conversation with three instructors about my research. At the end of that conversation, I will know whether or not I will graduate. So as I approach the end, I decided to write about what’s coming up, both to help myself process what I still need to do and to help anyone else approaching graduation as well.
Portfolio: As I’ve been putting together my portfolio, one helpful blog post I referred to explained different website builders. I ended up going with Wix, and I’ve been able to figure it out pretty well without any tutorials. I did purchase rights to my own domain for a year, since I will be on the job hunt as soon as it’s ready to go live.
One concern I have about the portfolio is how effective it will be. It needs to look professional and have an interesting, yet nonabrasive, color scheme (sadly that means the flamingo background is out). It needs to speak to my writing, editing, and design abilities while being neither understated nor overly wordy. Thankfully, several blog posts have been written on portfolios by past students (click here and here) and the publishing program has given me the necessary skills to judge my own work’s level of success.
Paper: Having the option to choose your own topic doesn’t always help—it’s so easy for just one degree of freedom to make you feel lost—but in this case, I have been working with an idea for my paper since the first week of Intro to Book Publishing. And I’ve managed to pin down an advisor-approved paper topic well before it’s due, so I should be just fine. In fact, I’ve broken down the page count and found that it should be quite easy to fill. The only concern, then, will be for time; the only obstacle on that front is my own tendency to procrastinate. In this case, I’m certain my enthusiasm for the topic will help overcome that particular problem.
Defense: Aside from the fact that my graduation hinges on this meeting, it should be relatively low-key. All of the hard work will already be done at this point, and I’ve picked the instructors who will be the most interested in my topic and the most qualified to help me as I transition from academia to the real world. Every instructor I’ve had has shown a genuine interest in their students’ futures, so I can trust my chosen instructors to judge my readiness fairly.
Job: While I won’t be able to maintain my position as a student worker on PSU’s HVAC crew—which I’ve really enjoyed and highly recommend—my boss and several coworkers have expressed interest in keeping me on as a temporary maintenance worker, which would be a perfect way to bridge the gap between life as a student and life beyond school. And while the job market is never what it ought to be, graduating from PSU’s book publishing program is certainly going to help. In spite of whatever horrible nagging voices I have in my head doubting my own abilities or validity, Ooligan Press has prepared me to be a publishing professional.

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