Steve Punch, President & CEO

Congratulations – you’re entering a new chapter in your life. Graduating high school is bittersweet. Saying goodbye to friends, memories and your comfort zone may be difficult; however, the next steps are filled with opportunity and excitement. How will you shape your future?

If college, junior college or trade school is next on your list, it’s never too early to get started. This could be a good time to assess your interests by taking a class at a local junior college. Try something fun like theatre, explore your intended major or narrow which type of major you’d like to pursue. Some classes may even qualify toward your degree. You could also conduct research to see which classes you should take next year. Course catalogs are often online at your university’s website.

Get a Job.
Whether you’re off to college or not, this is a good time to find a job. You’re young, ambitious and energetic – so look for something that matches those qualities. Look for jobs that allow a flexible schedule, the opportunity to pick up extra hours and future promotions. It’s important to save as much money as you can now. If you starting college in the fall, you won’t have the extra time to hold a job and you’ll need to rely on what you’ve saved.

If you can’t find a job, consider volunteering. Volunteer experiences can shape your perspective, your career and your future. They also can lead to regular employment. Many local charities need extra hands in the summer and getting involved helps you meet new people and gain job experience. Plus, it’s incredibly rewarding to help others in need.

If you were fortunate enough to receive cash as a graduation gift, you may consider using it to travel. Many organizations offer study abroad or travel groups for young adults. Check out programs at a local college or university. Traveling can open your eyes to new cultures, foods and experiences – things that you’ll never replicate at home. You may even come home with the foundation of a new language!

Whatever you decide – celebrate your achievement! You’ve done well and I wish you continued success.