UNL seniors discuss life after graduation

A photo taken at a University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduation ceremony last year at the Bob Devaney Center. Seniors are deciding on what to do next with their life after college.

A photo taken at a University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduation ceremony last year at the Bob Devaney Center. Seniors are deciding on what to do next with their life after college.

By Nedu Izuegbunam, NewsNetNebraska

Grant Muessel was ten years old when he figured out what he wanted to be when he grew up. It wasn’t your typical five to nine job but it was something.

It may be more dangerous than being in a cubical but it’s something he’s been passionate about since he was in grade school.

“When I was little I always wanted to be a free safety,” Muessel said. “But then I got older and realized that would hurt.”

It wouldn’t be until the summer before his freshman year of college that the Omaha native would decide to major in engineering. Two years later, he transferred to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to major in journalism which, Muessel said, was bound to happen someday.

“I realized how much I enjoyed sports and I loved writing,” he said. “I was always a natural writer.”

With graduation soon approaching, UNL seniors are trying to decide what exactly they’ll be doing with their life after college.

For the class of 2014, the thought of graduating may have felt scary two years ago. While most were beginning their sophomore year, the unemployment rate was at 9.5 percent in August of 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That number jolted up to 9.8 three months later. 

However, the number has been on a steady decline since then.

The unemployment rate decreased to 9.0 percent by May of 2011, and according to the BLS, February’s unemployment rate is currently at 7.7 percent.

Now with the more promising numbers, do seniors feel they’ll have a job waiting for them? Do they going on taking a vacation from school? Or are they continuing their learning with graduate school?

For Muessel, the latter options are out of question.

“I have a lot of loans that I don’t expect to pay off until another 10 years,” he said. “It’s not very fun. I’m hoping to get a job right immediately after graduation.”

Muessel admits that there are days he reflects on the type of salary he would be making after college if he stuck with engineering. One person who’s not regretting his decision with the major is senior Joel Uhing.

The Hartington native, who began college as a computer engineer, switched to mechanical engineering his sophomore year and said he’s seeing his decision pay off.

“I’m doing some salary negotiations right now as we speak,” Uhing said with a grin. “Intersystems, a company from Omaha, is offering me $52,000. Another company from Lincoln called Kawasaki is offering me $48,600.”

But none of those offer equate to the one given by Masaba.

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The mining equipment company he interned with last summer is currently offering Uhing $55,000. Although the offer is greater than his other choices, the senior is still weighing his options.

“The only thing that’s turning me away from Masaba is that they have claims from welders that didn’t perform their best recently,” he said. “They couldn’t provide me with the security of being a starting engineer. Plus, I want to try and work in a different place than I did last year.”

Unfortunately, not all UNL seniors have the luxury of options Uhing has on what to do after graduation.

Geography major Darrin Schultz had his eye on continuing his learning at the graduate school level next fall. He applied to five private colleges, including the University of Notre Dame.

However, Schultz got the answer from each of them that all students pursuing further schooling dread.

“I wasn’t accepted by any of them,” he said. “Each school I applied for denied my application. It’s an interesting point in my life because I have no idea what I’m doing after college.”

And what makes the unaccepted letters of intent more painful is that his tuition to be a Fighting Irish and the other schools he pursued would’ve been free. None of the Catholic schools would have cost Schultz a dime.

However, now with his education on hold, Schultz is now in search for a place to work.

“I have a couple of job opportunities I’m applying for and I have interviews lined up here in the next month,” he said. “One is for the Fellowship of Catholic University Students as a missionary in the United States.

“Another position is a campus minister at a local Catholic high school, and a director of admissions position at a school in Denver.”

Muessel has also done his fair share of filling out applications, too.

“I’ve just been putting my name out there with some newspapers on journalism job listing websites and message boards,” he said. ”

Since transferring to UNL, the journalism student’s jobs have all consisted of writing about what he loves most: sports.

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In the spring semester of his junior year, Muessel joined the school’s newspaper, the Daily Nebraskan, and became one of the beat-writers for men’s tennis and golf. In the summer of 2012, he then interned with the Lincoln Journal Star where he was a sports clerk.

“I actually did more writing than anything else,” he said.

Then Muessel made a visit to a UNL Journalism professor’s office. The type he’d only dreamed about since becoming a sports-writer.

“I planned on staying with the Lincoln Journal Star,” Muessel said. “But then I heard from Scott Winter that Huskers Illustrated Magazine was looking for a writer. I found out later that Steve Sipple had recommended me.

A week and a half later, just before the Husker football team’sf first game against Wyoming, Muessel was interviewed by the magazine and was asked to join the staff.

The decision to accept or decline to write about his favorite sport and team on a daily basis was a no-brainer. Since he knew he wouldn’t play anymore, Muessel describes writing for the Huskers as a dream come true.

“I covered all the home games and traveled for the away ones,” he said. “It was absolutely awesome going to all those places and getting paid for what I do.”

The Omaha native said he admits to being worried on where his next path will lead him, but he’s optimistic on keeping his current job after college.

“My boss is trying to get some money moved around so he can hire me full time,” he said. “I really hope that works out because I really like the job I have right now.”

Wherever Schultz next occupation may be, is still left to be determined, he said.

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The 24-year-old said where he ends up next is in God’s hands now.

“My soul prerogative is to trust in God knowing that my life is not my own,” he said. “I really want to be God’s distributor in this world.

“The doors may have closed but I know something greater is waiting for me.”

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