Support group to aid upcoming graduates’ stress

Hannah Hippensteel, features reporter

In an effort to combat stress for fourth-year students looking to graduate and enter the workforce, counseling and wellness staff will conduct a five-week support group via Zoom to combat stress from fourth-year students transitioning from graduation to employment.
Titled ‘Into the Unknown: Getting through a Quarter-Life Crisis,’ the 45-minute group will meet over Zoom on Wednesdays from 2-2:45 p.m., offering a place to address anxieties experienced during the transition out of college.
The group will be co-facilitated by Maggie Morris, a clinical intern for the university, as well as Serena Bohn, a university counselor.
Morris spearheaded the group’s creation to develop her interest in a career as a college counselor. She also has experience in group counseling in a part-time position in Rochester.
Bohn expressed her interest in group facilitation and a mutual understanding of the stress and uncertainty she felt upon her own college graduation.
Morris listed the themes of the group: job searching, anxiety about maintaining relationships, imposter syndrome and fears of falling behind.
“You can feel really alone during this time, looking around and seeing classmates who have strong ideas about jobs lined up,” Morris said. “You can also feel isolated if you’re feeling uncertain or experiencing feelings of being trapped into making the wrong decision.”
Bohn said her role in the group is to offer support “from the passenger seat” as Morris leads.
“We have a general structure to the group with themes, but we want the group to be free-flowing and flexible depending on what the needs are,” Bohn said.

Bohn and Morris hope to have a handful of students present each week to create an ongoing conversation. Sign-up is required and can be completed by emailing Morris at [email protected] go.winona.edu.

Although both women hope the group is helpful, Bohn also mentioned other resources available to students.

“Utilize what’s on campus. Think about things like Career Services or talking to professors; relationships are so crucial,” Bohn said.

Bohn and Morris mirrored the sentiment that students should not feel alone in this process and the importance of seeking out support in whatever way possible.

Morris mentioned much of her planning behind the group was career-focused.

DeAnna Goddard, associate director of career services, spoke to how COVID-19 has shifted approaches to connect with fourth-year students.

“Last spring, the train came to a halt. Graduates were in a

very different place. This spring, we’ve had more opportunities and time to see a new perspective,” Goddard said. “There’s new ways of approaching work and more promise than graduates this semester realize.”

Career Services continues to assist students in preparation for graduation, including resumé rushes, Photo Friday for professional headshots and Mock Interview Monday events.

According to Goddard, there has been a steady increase in participation, particularly in regard to Mock Interview Monday and Photo Friday events.

The university job and internship portal, Handshake, is also a valuable resource, Goddard said.

With this, employers are able to attend virtual career fairs and host webinars posted for those who couldn’t attend, which allows a broader audience to be reached.

Goddard said there is equal importance of helping students both transition out of university life and prepare for the world of work.

This combination offers formal and informal career support.

A message Goddard hopes to give to spring semester graduates is timing and organization.

“Make time to consider opportunities and broaden focus so you can choose the right first opportunity. And never look back—it prevents you from moving forward,” Goddard said.

As a fourth-year student graduating in May, Shelbie Carson, a film studies and creative digital media double major, said she didn’t know about the support group but finds those resources in her own way.

“I find support from my roommates because they know me and my aspirations. Also, Dr. J Paul Johnson is so supportive and kind. He’s helped create networking,” Carson said.

Carson also said the pandemic hasn’t necessarily changed her individual stress levels surrounding graduation.

“There’s no time to feel stressed because we can’t prepare. We adjust,” Carson said.

Overall, according to Carson, the shift to virtual learning has provided her with time for individual self-growth.

She also shared a message for other graduating students.

“Stay true to yourself and figure out how to be your happiest authentically. It makes going through life easier,” Carson said.