Workshops help alums navigate life lessons

KSU's Raushanah Butler hosts monthly workshops to help alumni transition from campus to the real world.
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KSU's Raushanah Butler hosts monthly workshops to help alumni transition from campus to the real world.

Credit: Kennesaw State University

The New Year brings high hopes of positive changes, and among those looking forward to a fresh start are 2020′s college graduates. The newest crop of degree holders face extraordinary economic and health challenges while also trying to adjust to the demands of the real world beyond campus.

That fact hit home with Raushanah Butler, Kennesaw State’s associate director of alumni and constituent engagement, who heard from spring and summer grads that making the transition was tough. Their biggest question: What do I do after I graduate? And their concerns went well beyond finding a job.

“In doing some research and talking to students, I heard them ask, ‘How do I buy a house? Improve my network? Pay taxes?’” said Butler. “I wanted to give them something they could take with them and hold onto after graduation.”

In September, Butler launched a series of monthly online workshops dubbed Navigating Life After the Nest (a reference to KSU’s owl mascot) geared toward recent graduates. She draws on alumni experts to tackle tough questions she knows former students s are asking.

“Some ideas are based on my own experiences,” she said. “Some things haven’t changed from when I graduated from college 20 years ago. Other ideas come from conversations with alums that have emailed me or engaged on social media.”

The surprising top topic: Homebuying.

“I had close to 60 attend that session, and even though I gear things to young alums, I received emails from more seasoned alums who wanted to join that one,” said Butler. “I’m now planning on doing another session on home buying in January.”

Guest speakers have also tackled topics around finding a work-life balance, employability and dealing with tough career transitions.

“That’s another one that has a lot of our older alums coming back,” said Butler. “They want resources on how to navigate their careers.”

Upcoming sessions for 2021 will include more on career transitioning, as well as legacy planning, handling finances around credit and debt, building a personal brand and how to extend a network.

“A lot of the feedback we’ve gotten is that new alums don’t know how to network or create a network,” said Butler. “They’re asking, ‘How do I go from LinkedIn to a network?’”

The sessions go live online during the lunch hour of every second Wednesday and always end with a recap and a list of resources.

“I keep them to 30 minutes because people are having online fatigue,” said Butler. “But if there are questions, we can go longer, or I can offer a Part 2.”

The workshops are open to KSU alumni, but Butler has noticed that the audience is growing.

“People have shared speaker info on certain topics,” she said, “so we have had some non-alums join our calls.”

Information on upcoming topics is online at alumni.kennesaw.edu.


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