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Alumni give advice to IU Bloomington’s Bicentennial Class

May 4, 2020

As Indiana University’s 2020 graduates embark on a new chapter of their lives, Inside IU Bloomington sought out advice from alumni. Here’s what they had to say:

An IU trident design on a mortarboard
Photo by James Brosher, Indiana University

Emily Carter

Degree: Studio art 2003, Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture + Design.

Current role: Founder of The Happy Career and product design lead at FTD.

Advice: “Careers are made inside and outside the office. Efforts made outside of your job are just as important as the efforts you put toward your 9 to 5 – and can sometimes propel you forward.”

Janet E. Foutty

Degree: Bachelor’s degree 1988, MBA 1991, Kelley School of Business.

Current role: U.S. executive chair of the board, Deloitte.

Advice: “The events of the past few months have helped each of you develop a new skill that I think is essential to all leaders: resiliency. My advice to you is to celebrate that resiliency and to foster it in those around you. You are joining our community of Indiana University alumni, who know that collaboration and teamwork are the bedrock of successful people. These values have transcended generations, and now you have an undeniable ability to add resiliency as an irrefutable attribute. The author C.S. Lewis said, ‘Hardships often prepare ordinary for an extraordinary destiny.’ I am confident that you are heading into a future that is truly extraordinary. Now is the time to define that truly extraordinary future that is ahead of you.”

Cat Huynh

Degree: Bachelor of arts in journalism and in communications and culture, 2016, The Media School and the College of Arts and Sciences.

Current role: Creative coordinator at Cashmere Agency.

Advice: “Every grad will experience impostor syndrome (self-doubt, comparing yourself to other people, etc.). It’s a real and normal feeling most of us will experience when we leave our bubbles, but that doesn’t always mean it’s a valid fact. You can persevere through it. Ask for help, lean on people who have your back, and always trust your gut. After you graduate, all the self-help books that you force yourself to read mostly say the same thing, and it is cringe-y but true: To be successful in all aspects, you need to learn to be thoughtful with others, but especially ourselves.”

Charnay Pickett

Degree: Bachelor of arts in journalism, 2015, The Media School.

Current role: Account manager at Hirons.

Advice: “Congratulations, graduates! What you do after this is entirely up to you. The best thing I ever did was release myself from the limitations set by society as well as the limitations I set myself. No dream is too big, and it’s never too late to go after what you want. You are the only person standing in your way, so don’t let you stop you from achieving the great things life has to offer. You are about to embark on a great adventure, so make sure it’s a good one.”

Mary Anne Smart

Degree: Math, Spanish and computer science, 2017, College of Arts and Sciences and Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering.

Current role: Graduate student researcher in University of California, San Diego, Computer Science and Engineering Department.

Advice: “The relationships I formed with faculty, staff and other students at IU helped me immensely with the process of deciding to attend graduate school. I sometimes felt nervous about reaching out to professors or graduate student teaching assistants to ask questions about life after college, but when I made the effort to initiate these conversations, I always found them helpful. Especially during this difficult time, Hoosiers are looking out for each other, and these relationships can be a source of strength.”

Curtis Smith

Degree: Doctor of Musical Arts Composition, 2017, Jacobs School of Music.

Current role: Director of Northern Arizona University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center.

Advice: “Be curious and ask questions about everything, not just your area of expertise. Build emotional intelligence; it will impact your career more than technical competency. Cultivate faith in humanity; the data shows we are trending in the right direction on most fronts. Live on less than you make, avoid debt, and if you have them, pay off student loans ASAP. Save at least six months of living money for a rainy day (or a pandemic), give back generously and invest. Have a core you can turn to during trials. This may be your faith, family, friends, community or something else. Whatever it is, nurture it like you do your technique. I’m quoting this from somewhere, ‘Love others and use things. The opposite doesn’t work.’ Congrats to the class of 2020! Keep innovating!”

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