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Samantha Tomfohr: Life After Graduation

It’s crunch time for many of you college seniors out there, and the stress and excitement can be overwhelming.  Samantha Tomfohr, a recent JMU alumna (and previous HC JMU staff member!), was in the same position this time last year. Graduating with a degree in Anthropology and an Art History minor, Samantha knew that her job search would be difficult. After realizing that she would need to get a Master’s degree and perform graduate research, she decided to take a break from the books, and get any type of job that would support her before going back to school again. After being in the right place at the right time, Samantha landed a job at Harrisonburg’s very own clothing boutique, Duo.
When asked if this was all part of her post-graduate “plan,” she explains how her plan mainly consisted of getting any type of job, so she is very happy where she is now. Although never seeing herself in retail right after college, she is gaining many valuable life skills that can be applied in any work place. She also explains how her management experience and new responsibilities are helping her learn and grow.

She rose from a full-time sales associate to assistant manager to store manager in less than six months! When asked if she sees herself in this field in the future, she said, “Because of my position, I do believe I’ll be in this field longer. I’m learning these great skills, like being a leader, effectively managing people, creative ways for promotion, etc. I’m in a really comfortable place right now with my job. Job searching isn’t easy and I’m happy with where I’m at.”
Job searching was Samantha’s biggest fear as she approached the end of her senior year. She explained how she was nervous that because her major was more general, it would be hard to find a good one. She said that even her friends with nursing and education degrees had trouble finding jobs. “It’s a scary time,” she tells me. She recommends using the resources available on campus to help with the job search. Samantha also emphasized how important a great resume is, and that it is valuable to invest your time and energy into creating one. The Career and Academic Planning center will help you create a resume for the job you are applying for, and Recruit-a-Duke will help stage mock interviews so you are fully prepared for the job force.

Her biggest regret looking back? Not doing enough networking. She spent most of her time on classes and schoolwork and explains how she wishes she worked more and created those networks that could have helped her land a job in her field. She stresses how beneficial it is to have friends, family, and mentors with connections because it would have made the transition from college to the real world much easier. She advises this class of 2012 to “realize that any opportunity is a good one.”
Samantha is currently planning her wedding for this summer, after a 20-month engagement. She and her fiancée still have many goals they want to achieve, but Sam is excited for what is to come in her future!

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