Our guest blogger, That Girl, offers advice on adjusting expectations

The art of life

light through the trees

As I was exercising in the gym I saw someone, a person of color, a color similar to my own, from a place that I belong to, the thought seemed exhilarating in a land quite unfamiliar to me. So as I’m about to leave the gym for I’m done for the day, I stop by to say hello. After an initial exchange of pleasantries and conversational small talk, I now know that she’s been in the area for more than a decade and that there are a number of people from our community in the area. As excited as I could be to hear that, in a moment I vicariously lived through moments of celebrating a culture my own, in a heartbeat. I instantly pitched that there’s a sizable portion of our community at the University I would love for us students to connect with the community. But my reverie was broken down by “We want nothing to do with them,” followed by the reasoning “If we want to celebrate our festivals, we go to Dallas.” Soon after this with some covertly worded statements I was made to realize, that she wasn’t looking to babysit a girl, as she even ‘refused to take up the responsibility of her niece, who was coming to the US to study pharmacy’, because girls these days “think differently and you don’t know.”

Now you must be wondering why I’m telling you all this, so let me tell you why. If you are anything like me that is empathetic, I would like to implore you to grow a thick skin, a very thick one indeed, if you are planning to study abroad. People whom you’d expect to be nice, sane and look out for you, because they belong the same country, state or community as you, you stand a high chance of being disappointed in them. Look you may have heard, people have pretty linear personalities, they’ll be nice to you as long as they have their own axe to grind at your expense, you’ll probably get a taste of it after you give up on all your cushions by choosing to grow out of your comfort zone, if you haven’t until know.

You will share a living space with people who have never travelled anywhere, have never shared a living space with someone, basically linear personalities, who cannot give up an iota of their nonchalant pampered passive-aggressive ways to accommodate someone else’s needs. You’ll have a real life experience of the virtual and instantaneous “friending” and “unfriending” that happens over at Facebook, because you have an opinion different than theirs. Though you may be surrounded by people much more mature in age than you don’t expect them to act mature at all.

In words of Maya Angelou “There’s nothing in this world more tragic than a young cynic, because you go from knowing nothing to believing nothing.” So how will you deal with this? You have two options either be cynical or you be you. No matter how much you dislike the situation you are in the truth of the matter is that you are living it and no one else can deal with it on your behalf. Don’t try and emulate the characteristics that you dislike on the pretext “That’s just how the world is.” You be the silver lining in someone else’s cloud. You help a fellow human when you see them in need, cause’ if someone mentions you and people go any version of “Damn, that person is such a nightmare,” there’s something you need to change something about yourself. Moreover, try to make the most out of your experiences by making friends within your immediate community and expanding out of your own. I’m sure you didn’t travel across the Atlantic to hang out with the same bunch of people you whose company you desperately wanted to escape. You come from another part of the world you have a different perspective to share and contribute to your immediate surrounding, so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise and don’t hold back.

That Girl

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Welcome to Chelsea Miller!

Today, we’re welcoming into the ranks of Graduate Admissions our new Office Manager, Chelsea Miller!

IMG_1634Chelsea Miller, (no relation to our Jessica Miller, Secret Agent), will be taking over from Sydni Blundell, who has gone on to the College of Education and Psychology here at UT Tyler to be their Coordinator of Admissions to Online Graduate Programs. We’ll miss Sydni, but we’re excited to have Chelsea join us!

An avid golfer, Chelsea comes from Lufkin, TX. She played golf at TJC and UT Tyler as a student, but doesn’t play as much as she’d like now that she’s graduated with her associate’s degree in Health Sciences from TJC. Her husband recently left the service as a Marine, and is now a Psychology and Counseling student here at UT Tyler.

Please join me in welcoming Chelsea to the team!

–Michael Giordano
Assistant Director, Graduate Admissions

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Job hunting? Here are some tips

Job hunting is one of the hardest tasks you face in the business world. Writing resumes and cover letters and making first impressions on company after company is tiring, and rejections, however politely phrased, sting badly. It’s hard to put yourself out there day after day trying to find the perfect fit. Or even a good fit. Heck, sometimes we’d settle for a fit that’s just “okay” if it will get us in the door of a company we want to work for.

We’ve recently hired some new representatives for the Graduate Admissions office, and so we’ve had this on our minds. We’ve seen some stellar applicants, and some that make us wonder how they could possibly have thought we’d offer them a job based on their behavior and/or resume. I’d like to pass a few bits of (very basic) advice on to any job-hunters out there. A lot of it seems like common sense, but based on the number of applicants who did not do any of these things, I guess it’s not as common as you’d think.


Give the employer what they ask for in the application. If they want you to apply online, using a certain form, or in a certain way, do it! Applications that come in through other routes are likely to be ignored, as employers have a process they use to vet potential employees, and their application procedures feed into this process. Also, if you don’t follow directions in the application, why would an employer think you’d follow them on the job?


First of all, be on time. If you show up late for your interview, the employer will assume that you’d be late for the job, and unreliable in other ways. I’d recommend showing up five to ten minutes early, but no earlier than that.

The interview begins long before you enter the conference room or employer’s office. Remember that every single person you meet, from the receptionist to the CEO, is likely to be asked their impression of you. Make sure you treat everyone courteously and professionally.

Make sure to ask questions. Many people, going into an interview, think of it as a one-sided sales job — sell themselves to the company. Remember that if it is to be a good fit, the company must also fit your needs. Make sure that you find out about everything that is important to you during the interview so that you don’t have to ask basic questions later.

One exception to the previous note is salary. Don’t ask about the salary during the interview unless the employer brings it up. Once they offer you the job, you can negotiate the compensation package, but during the interview it shows that your focus is more on your wallet than your ambitions.

At the end of the interview, remember to ask for the job. You want to make sure that the employer knows that the interview further ignited your interest in working for the company and that now, more than ever, you want to work for them. A statement like, “After hearing more about this position, I’m really convinced I would be a good fit, and I hope we can be working together soon.” shows the employer that you used the interview as a way to learn about the company as much as they used it to learn about you.


Unless you have fairly extensive work experience, limit your resume to one page. I know it’s tough to get everything you want to say about yourself in that limited space, but employers typically spend very little time with resume-clipart-canstock5245260each resume before making the decision to interview or not — and the more concise your resume, the more information can be read in that little time. If you do have extensive experience, you should still limit your resume to two pages. Let’s face it, anyone with enough experience to need more than two pages for a resume probably isn’t looking for job hunting advice at this stage in their careers.

It’s good to have a resume that stands out from the bunch, but don’t go overboard. Crazy colors, scented paper, and funny fonts (I’m looking at you, Comic Sans) have no place in a resume. Stick with good quality white or very light cream paper, basic fonts, and a simple, easy-to-read format, and you’re more likely to be taken seriously.

Hygiene / Dress:

Make sure you are clean, neatly dressed, and — this is important — deodorized! I can tell you for certain that employers will turn away otherwise qualified applicants who look sloppy or smell bad. Nobody wants to have their company represented by someone who looks (or smells!) slovenly or unkempt. On the same note, avoid strong perfumes and colognes. Any scent, however pleasant to you, might be cloying to the interviewer, and some people are sensitive enough to scent that a strong perfume or cologne could trigger a headache — something you certainly don’t want to leave an interviewer with!

Always dress for an interview one step up from the way you would dress for the job itself. If the job requires a tie, wear a suit. If it’s a blue jeans-and-t-shirt job, go with business casual for the interview.

Hopefully, you’re already doing everything I suggested in this post. I didn’t suggest anything particularly novel or unusual. But after seeing dozens of applicants for this most recent set of positions in Graduate Admissions, and seeing how many of them did not follow even the basic advice given above, I couldn’t help but wonder how they could have missed such common-sense practices as those above.

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Organizational Tips and Tricks!

Want to know my favorite tips and tricks to staying organized?  Here are my top 5:

  1. iCloud – For those Applicloude users out there, I highly recommend utilizing iCloud. I can access my iCloud email, notes, calendar, and tasks from anywhere!  I have other Apple products, such as an iPhone, and my items are seamlessly updated over Wi-Fi rather than having to connect to the computer.
  2. Microsoft Outlook – I love Outlook! I can use the categorize function to label my emails, set flags or reminders for tasks or emails that I need to remember later, keep my work calendar up-to-date, organize emails into folders, etc.  It really is an all-encompassing program with great organizational tools!
  3. Files – I really do utilize good, old fashioned, physical files. The important thing to remember about filing is that you need to have a system that works for you and keep that system.  For my files at home, I have different main categories and then sub-categories within that.  At work, I have my main categories and the sub-categories, but the difference is that my work main categories have specific colors.
    Electronic files – I keep the same system for my electronic files as I do for my physical files.  That way I know exactly where to look no matter where I’m looking.
  4. Notes – I am a fan of a few paper notes here and there. If you know there’s something that you reference multiple times a day, make a small note of it and keep it handy!  I transfer calls to ppost-it-notes-clipart-canstock16279360articular offices, so I have a list of helpful contacts near my phone so that I don’t have to look up a number in the directory 5 times a day.  One piece of advice on keeping physical notes: don’t keep so many that they then clutter your space.  You want to make sure that your space is tidy so that you don’t feel overwhelmed by “stuff.”
  5. Prioritize – I have a category for each task that I need to do:
    1.  Important, Urgent (red) – these are things that are due quickly and I cannot miss the deadline
    2.  Not Important, Urgent (orange) – these are things that are due quickly, but it’s not the end of the world if I don’t meet the deadline
    3.  Important, Not Urgent (yellow) – these are things that the due date is coming up and I cannot miss the deadline
    4.  Not Important, Not Urgent (green) – these are things that may or may not have a deadline and they are more of “if I have free time” items
    While this system works for me, I really have to think about where each task meets the criteria of a certain category.  I also have to keep in mind that something that is currently in the yellow category can quickly change to the red category.  I constantly know which items or tasks are in each category.

Additional Tips:  While these tips aren’t strictly “organization,” they do help me keep my sanity.
– I do a desk sweep at the end of every day and put everything away.  That may mean that the items on my desk go into one of the categories mentioned above or that may mean that they go into my “to file” spot.  Either way, I never leave my desk messy so that I don’t have to come back to a mess.
– I also have an “inbox” on my desk that I have designated for items that I have not gone through or processed, yet.  That helps keep the clutter off of my desk, as well.

While these tips and tricks may seem useful in a particular way for home and another way for office, I utilize all of these in my personal, business, and school life!  I hope they help you as much as they’ve helped me!

-Sydni Blundell
Office Manager

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The Importance of Being Honest

Over the past few months, we’ve seen an unfortunate rise in the number of plagiarized application and scholarship essays. This is something we take very seriously, and in many cases, it was the deciding factor in a negative decision. One thing I’ve noticed, however, is the trend for individuals, once caught, to claim that they did not know that what they did was plagiarism, or that there was anything wrong with it even if they did. It made me think of the rationalizations that might come to mind for applicants and students when they decide to submit someone else’s work under their own name. These are the ones I could think of.

  • It’s not hurting anybody. Actually, it is. When a plagiarist doesn’t get caught, he or she is taking the place of someone who worked honestly on his or her essay. The plagiarist has no way of knowing if the person whose place he usurps is desperate for the scholarship that they’ve both applied for, or is in need of the degree in order to keep his or her job. Even if there’s no desperate situation, though, there is still the pain of being denied the scholarship or place in the program that is inflicted on an honest person.
  • It’s no big deal. Plagiarism, and cheating in general, is not something that we take lightly at UT Tyler. Students caught plagiarizing admissions material are summarily and finally denied admission to the university. Once admitted, the penalties for academic dishonesty can include failing grades, failing courses, academic probation or suspension, dismissal from the University, and/or denial of degree. It’s simply not worth the risk.
  • I’ll never get caught. I’ll admit, there is a possibility of getting away with it. We know that we don’t catch every single plagiarist. But we do catch a lot of them, and we believe we catch most of them. We employ services that check the content of an essay against other essays submitted to this and other universities. We make extensive use of Google and other search engines to find key phrases that are used in an essay. And we’re pretty good at spotting when writing styles shift in an essay between the plagiarist’s source material and his or her own work.
  • It is part of my culture. I know that there are cultures in which cheating is no big deal. In some places, a literal slap on the wrist is the worst punishment a person might get. Here, though, plagiarism and cheating are seen as severe infractions against our ethical code. And by making the decision to go to school here, a student is agreeing to abide by the ethical code of the University.
  • As long as I get in, it doesn’t matter how. Setting aside the Machiavellian immorality of that statement, let’s look at its factuality. Admission standards are not set arbitrarily just to put an obstacle in the way of would-be students. Standards are put in place to make sure that the students who get into the program have the academic ability to succeed in the program. Applicants who cheat to meet these requirements are setting themselves up for failure when they get into a program that assumes they have, at a minimum, the skills required to be admitted.

I realize that most of the readers of this blog have no intention of ever cheating or plagiarizing at UT Tyler or anywhere else. But with the recent rise in plagiarized essays, I was moved to make a statement of our position towards academic dishonesty.

–Michael Giordano
Assistant Director, Graduate Admissions

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All in a day’s work

We had a bit of excitement Monday — a baby cardinal got into the building somehow, and was flying into windows trying to escape.

It was immediately clear that Graduate Admissions was the department to call.

Armed only with a spare t-shirt, Alecia and I rushed into action, accompanied by our trusty sidekick and honorary Grad Admissions Staffer, Beth Bruce from the Provost’s office.

The bird was sitting on a chair near the window as we approached, ninja-like in our stealth. Then Beth coughed, sending the bird into a panic. Flustered, it flew into the window behind it and landed on the windowsill, confused as to why the sky wouldn’t let it in.

We came towards it from three angles, cornering it against the glass. Closer, closer, closer… I gently tossed the tshirt over the bird — and the bird was caught.

But the task was far from complete. I scooped up the cardinal in the t-shirt and we headed downstairs to the exit. It was a muggy, hot day outside, and I could feel the bird moving through the t-shirt in my hands, begging to be set free. We moved to a nearby patch of shade and opened the cloth.

And the cardinal was free. It tweeted its thanks and flew into a nearby tree to recover from its ordeal.

Alecia, Beth, and I divested ourselves of our capes and returned to our not-so-secret identities within Grad Admissions and the Provost’s office, glad of another monumental task accomplished.

See the video! Releasing the Bird

— Michael Giordano
Assistant Director of Graduate Admissions

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The Perfect Balance…wait, what?

balance_scale_clip_art_10655So, what is the perfect balance?  The perfect balance is whatever works for you and your schedule.  I am a full-time staff member in Graduate Admissions, I take classes at UT Tyler, I volunteer my time to the local Alpha Chi Omega sorority chapter, and I am a newlywed.  IT CAN BE DONE!

A few main topics that I do to try and keep a balance between the different aspects of my life are:

TIME MANAGEMENT – Know the time that is required of each commitment.  I never want to double schedule where I have told someone that I will be.  Keep in mind that while I take online classes and don’t have to be somewhere physically, I block out “study” times so that you keep up with my classwork and deadlines.

PRIORITIZE – While sometimes it may seem like everything is important (Of course it’s important!  You chose to keep it in your life!), I always try to keep a hierarchy within my commitments.  My daily or weekly priorities may change depending on the circumstances, but I don’t want to spend time on planning for my husband’s birthday 3 months away when I have a test that I have to take next week and should use that time to study instead.

ORGANIZATION – This is huge!  I have an organized personality so it comes easy to me; it’s incredibly important to start and stay organized.  (Stay tuned for my organization tips and tricks post, coming soon!)  The key element of being organized is knowing where everything is, such as, having all of my notes for class in one location so that I’m not searching for them when I want to study.  I also find it beneficial to keep up with my committed time on one calendar, rather than managing multiple calendars for various items.

-Sydni Blundell
Office Manager

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Back from TXGAP Summer Conference!

hilton ft worthAndrea, Kelly and I have just returned from our trip to Fort Worth for the Texas Association of Graduate Admission Professionals Summer Conference.

It was a whirlwind of sessions and meetings and mixers, and we have copious notes and piles of business cards to sort through. We definitely learned a lot that we will be incorporating into our practice here at UT Tyler Graduate Admissions. Of particular note was the keynote speech given by Dr. Brenda Harms. She gave us her insight into the services that we provide for our incoming students, and some practical ideas about how to help prospective students decide if UT Tyler is the right place for them, and to help them integrate into campus life if it is.

Dr. Brenda Harms

Dr. Brenda Harms

As a side note, it was interesting — and sobering — to learn that the hotel we stayed at was the one that JFK stayed at the night before his assassination. It certainly had a historic feel to it.

–Michael Giordano
Assistant Director of Graduate Admissions

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Meet the Graduate Admissions Team

In Graduate Admissions, we have a team of dedicated people working hard to help make applicants’ dreams of graduate studies come true. We like to try to get to know our applicants as much as possible during their admissions process, and we thought it might be nice if you could get to know us a little bit, too. So without further preamble, here is the UT Tyler Graduate Admissions team!

wolfAlecia Wolf
Assistant Dean, Graduate School
Director, Graduate Admissions (5 years)
From: Tyler, TX
What is your favorite part of your job? Working with a great team of professionals. We have a good time sharing ideas and strategies that will help us continue to improve.
Personality Quirk: I like old-school rap music.
Favorite Book: Straight Man (Richard Russo)
Favorite Song: 2raumwohnung (2 von Millionen von Sternen)
Describe your perfect vacation: Spending a leisurely, unplugged vacation somewhere far away with ancient or medieval structures to visit and explore.
What would you like our readers to know about Graduate Admissions? We care! As a group of people who have all been through the admissions process, we understand that applying to college can be daunting, and applying to graduate school can be downright intimidating. We want to keep prospective students from ever feeling that way.

Michael Giordanomikegiordano
Assistant Director, Graduate Admissions (3 months)
From: Ridgefield, CT
What is your favorite part of your job? Getting to know our applicants.
Personality Quirk: Loves fencing. With swords, not lumber.
Favorite Book: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss or Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
What would you like our readers to know about Graduate Admissions? We love to say “Yes!” and we do everything we can to help people get admitted.

sblundellSydni Blundell
Office Manager (7 months)
From: Marshall / Longview, TX
What is your favorite part of your job? Being able to assist students in finding the answer / solution for their situation!
Personality Quirk: I am a factual person.
Favorite Book / Movie: Book – Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card; Movie – Moulin Rouge
Favorite Pop Culture Icon: DEFINITELY Reese Witherspoon!
Describe your perfect vacation: I would go to Greece, explore everything that I could, go scuba diving, and taste the food.
What would you like our readers to know about Graduate Admissions? I would like readers to know that we are here for you! We love being able to help out and don’t feel shy about asking us questions! 

Andrea Grzybowski
Graduate Admissions Representative (2.5 years)
From: California
Job Duties: Data Entry and Management



brittanikBrittani Keith
Graduate Admissions Representative (2 years)
From: Silsbee, TX
What is your favorite part of your job? It is very rewarding when a student tells us that we have provided great support, sometimes the best they have ever received from a university. I love reading those emails.
Personality Quirk: I am very organized. I like for everything to be clean and arranged just right. I’m sure it drives the office crazy!
Favorite Book/Movie: Island of the Blue Dolphins is one of my favorite books, and I’m a sucker for Disney movies.
Hobbies: Reading, competitive shooting, and playing video games.
What would you like our readers to know about Graduate Admissions? Please let us know if you have any questions at all. We don’t mind answering them, no matter how many times you contact us.

Jessica Miller
Super Secret Agent

>>>You do not have the required security clearance for this information<<<



kmoore1Kelly Moore
Senior Graduate International Admissions Representative (3 years)
From: Lindale, TX
What is your favorite part of your job? My favorite part of the job is interacting with our students and coworkers, as well as having the opportunity to learn new things.
Personality Quirk: I like everything color coded
Favorite Music: Radney Foster
Perfect Vacation: My perfect vacation would be an extended trip to Italy, meeting with family, visiting museums, researching genealogy, taking pictures and soaking up the culture.
What would you like our readers to know about Graduate Admissions? We understand how much thought that you’ve put into your graduate studies and we will thoroughly research each question to make sure that you receive the right information as quickly as possible. You’re definitely not a “number”.

Kim Sheetsksheets
Data / Reporting Analyst (3 years)
From: I’m a child of the South. Born in Florida, but have also lived in Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Texas.
Job Duties: My main job duty is make the application process easier for you! Grad School is stressful enough so simplifying the application process can get your graduate career off to a smoother start.
What is your favorite part of your job? I enjoy coming to campus each day and working with the most supportive people I have ever worked with. While I don’t have much direct student contact, I know that what I do each day makes it easier for the students from application to graduation.
Personality Quirk: I’m the best rock star that never was…
Proudest Accomplishment: The respect I have earned amongst my peers
What would you like our readers to know about Graduate Admissions? We REALLY do care about you.

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Thoughts at Year’s End

Hooray for the end of another successful academic year!  Having closed out the semester with Spring 2015 Commencement just last week, it’s a time of celebration looking back on educational accomplishments,  fun memories, and life experiences for both undergraduate and graduate students alike.  The start of a new life chapter is an exciting time, but can definitely be a bit daunting.  Words like “career”, “job”, “income”, “networking”, and “now what” are no longer in the back of your mind, but rather present and accounted for!  If you had a job before graduating, then you’re fortunate, and even more fortunate if that job aligns with your degree’s major.  If you’ve just graduated, have a job but need a new one, or don’t have job at all, then that’s ok too, but now’s the time to leverage your college experience to get that J.O.B.!

First, stay positive, and just like you got through your undergrad or grad courses, you’ll get through this as well.  When I graduated with my undergraduate degree, like it still is today, jobs were scarce, and top-paying jobs, well, those were only in my dreams.  To overcome the career challenges, I stayed motivated, I involved myself in some career seeking activities, I made some well-planned decisions, and I established a career oriented mindset.

  1. Examine your financial situation and reduce your expenses.  Being without a job or having a job that doesn’t pay that well is tough, but you do it because you have to, and that’s respectable.  If relocating for a job is an option for you, then be thinking about saving money to make the move.  Moving can be expensive.  It’s becoming less and less common that employers will help with relocating expenses, while at the same time, expanding your search to a wider geographical range is becoming the norm.
  2. Spend some time networking.  I know people say this ALL the time, with a “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” shortly after, but there is truth to these statements.  Seek out job related conversations with friends, family, and even extended family members to consider all your options.  Attend career fairs, get plugged into the Alumni Association, get on LinkedIn, and even join a local young professionals group.
  3. Don’t put all your eggs in the Networking basket!  If you’re actively seeking a job, you’ll need to be submitting applications on a regular weekly basis.  Get some resume writing tips from Career Services, setup keyword job alerts on multiple job search engines, and diligently practice your cover letter writing.  As one progresses through their career, more times than not, it’s their previous work experiences that gets them the next job.  Your resume should leverage all previous job experiences so that you are presenting that experience in a way that adds value to the next employer.
  4. Consider going back to school.  This may not be ideal if you’ve been looking forward to getting to work and making income, but if you were planning to eventually earn another degree, it might be best to go ahead and get it out of the way, during which time the job market can continue recovering.  If you have student loans and you know that starting payments on those loans isn’t really an option, starting a graduate career would defer your loan payments.  Having said this, don’t jump right into a costly graduate academic program just to do so, but strongly consider what it would take to get another degree, plan accordingly, and make the best decision for your position.
  5. Consider alternative means of income.  If the corporate world isn’t for you, then starting your own business may be an option.  While you may not think of yourself as an entrepreneur, the online resources available for starting your own business, e-business, website, blog, or other means of generating income, are numerous.  Not business savvy either?  That’s where furthering your education, or complementing your undergraduate degree with say a technical certification may come in handy.

All in all, stay positive, engage in some constructive career seeking activities, and be patient.  Job seeking is many times a marathon and not a sprint.  Hang in there, and be persistent.  Congratulations to all the UT Tyler Patriots that that have just graduated and “SWOOP SWOOP”!!

Give us your feedback in the comments below and let us know what activities you’re engaging in, or did engage in, to land that coveted job!

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