News - From College to Career: Five Tips from a Recent GC Grad

From College to Career: Five Tips from a Recent GC Grad

From College to Career: Five Tips from a Recent GC Grad

The day after his graduation last May, Arley Cornell ('13) caught a flight to San Diego to begin “life after college” only to discover that life after college bore a striking resemblance to life in college – at least his life at Greenville College where he honed his digital media skills and learned to pursue projects that truly mattered to him.

Even before he graduated, Arley drew accolades as an animator. An animation he produced for his COR 401 class and a motion graphics ad he developed for a design course earned industry recognition. Praise for his creative storytelling continued on the job as he worked for various nonprofits. He is now in that good place where projects come to him.  

Since January, Arley has worked as an animator for Washington D.C.-based InterMotion Media. Prior to this, he engaged his talents and imagination in internships and freelance work that proved remarkably custom-tailored to subjects he valued and skills he enjoyed. He attributes the good fit to an important discovery he made as a student at GC – when the work engages his passions for social justice and beautiful storytelling, it excites him and draws the very best from him. Lesson learned: pursue projects and relationships with organizations that make your heart sing.

Closing in on his one-year anniversary as a GC alumnus, Arley shared five tips that may smooth the transition from college to career for today’s students.

1. Discover what moves you

Arley traces his passion for social justice issues back to the semester he spent in Rwanda as part of GC’s GO ED. Africa opportunity. “There was no digital media benefit from the semester,” he recalls. Still, he considers the opportunity to learn about reconciliation in response to tribal genocide as profoundly rewarding. It set the trajectory for his pursuits as an animator when he returned to the classroom and later when he determined the types of the internships he would seek. 

2. Find others who share your interests

Projects often come to Arley because his interests intersect with causes addressed by certain nonprofits. He points to the internship he won with Invisible Children, the San Diego-nonprofit organization that employed him just after graduation. Invisible Children’s mission is to put a permanent end to atrocities committed by Joseph Kony’s “Lord’s Resistance Army” in several African nations. “I was a good match,” says Arley. “I cared about the cause deeply and felt personally invested after spending a semester in Rwanda.” It helped that his portfolio already contained compelling samples of the kinds of animation Invisible Children needed – freelance work he accomplished as a student.

Arley’s portfolio now contains stories of refugees who have lost everything to civil war, African children who dutifully walk miles each day to secure water for their families, and Rwandan youth who live in a constant state of vulnerability on the streets. He has worked with the United States Institute of Peace, the Anglican Relief and Development Fund, When the Saints, World Hope International and Centre for Champions

3. Seize every opportunity to explore

Clearly the professional preparation Arley received through his coursework has helped him serve his clients well, but he cites the spiritual and personal preparation he received at GC as even more valuable. “I feel like I was equipped to pursue dreams,” he says. “I felt like I was given the space to explore and imagine while being guided by spiritual giants who have wrestled through darker things than I ever will have to.”

4. Know that a degree isn’t a free ride

Successful freelancing requires salesmanship, and Arley believes his work sells itself far more than his degree ever could. This includes work he produced for college classes. “If you can show off how awesome you are with school projects, clients will understand that your talent translates to making content that will help sell their services and products.” 

5. Rehearse your story

One story that Arley has mastered telling in compelling fashion is his own: “If you love what you do and can speak confidently about you being good at it, people will come to you.”

Arley tells his story with ease because he is well practiced in articulating what he can do. After all, he has been crafting his story for a long time, at least since that junior year trip to Rwanda.

“I want to keep telling beautiful stories, because first of all, I firmly believe that nonprofit work needs a facelift,” he says, “but also because nonprofit work is among the most important work in the world. I don't think I'll always work for nonprofits, but I think I'll keep pursuing clients that have great capacity to enrich lives and align this reality with the reality that God intended at the beginning.” 

Hit play on the box below to view Arley’s video about liberal arts education at Greenville College.

Greenville College Liberal Arts Education from Arley Cornell on Vimeo.

This story was published on March 25, 2014

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